So far, the most notable moment of the Rockies season was when management traded Ubaldo Jimenez, the best pitcher in team history. And now we have another notable -- but not positive event -- with which to mark the season: Mike Jacobs, first baseman for the Rockies' Triple-A team, has become the first professional baseball player to test positive for human growth hormone (HGH), a performance-enhancing substance banned by baseball. He has been suspended for fifty games by Major League Baseball and released by the Rockies.
The New York Times first reported the positive test and quoted a spokesman for the World Anti-Doping Agency as saying Jacobs was the first professional athlete in the United States to test positive for HGH. Other athletes, such as Rockies pinch hitter Jason Giambi, have been linked to the drug, but no one has tested positive for it since the test was created in 2004 -- until Jacobs.
"A few weeks ago, in an attempt to overcome knee and back problems, I made the terrible decision to take H.G.H.," Jacobs said in the statement. "I immediately stopped a couple of days later after being tested. Taking it was one of the worst decisions I could have ever made, one for which I take full responsibility."
Jacobs, who is 30, has played in more than 500 games in the Major Leagues for the New York Mets, Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals. He was having an impressive year for the Sky Sox, posting a .293 batting average and hitting 23 home runs, although he hadn't yet been called up to the Rockies. He had been hoping to get a shot and, if he had, he might not have been busted. The Majors don't test for HGH, while minor league baseball began blood testing last year. The New York Times also reported that Jacobs is just the eighth person to test positive for HGH worldwide.
The Rockies released a statement on the positive test:
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"We were very disappointed to learn that Mike Jacobs had been suspended after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The Colorado Rockies have long been committed to eliminating the use of performance-enhancing substances from the game of baseball. We have fully supported the adoption and implementation of the Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association joint drug prevention and treatment program."
While MLB tests for other performance-enhancing drugs, the players union was able to block a blood test for HGH on the basis that it is unreliable and an invasion of player privacy. As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL will be testing its players for HGH this season.
Jacobs may have put the nail in the coffin on his attempt to return to the Majors and, while he is the first professional baseball player to test positive for HGH, he is far from the first player to be associated with it. Notable baseball players accused of taking it outside Giambi, who is said to have purchased the drug while with the Yankees, include:
- Andy Pettitte: Admitted to taking HGH to recover from injuries, but before baseball's drug-testing policy was in place.
- Eric Gagne: The former closer built like an NFL linebacker was one of many who ex-Met clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski claims to have sold HGH to.
- Rick Ankiel: Pitcher-turned-outfielder named by the New York Daily News in 2004.
- David Justice: Prominent outfielder for several teams during the 90s is said to be one of Radomski's clients.
- Roger Clemens: One of the best pitchers of all time also had his personal trainer, Brian McNamee, testify against him before Congress. Clemens was in the second day of a perjury trial to determine if he lied about taking performance-enhancing drugs when the judge declared a mistrial.
- Chuck Knoblauch: McNamee claims to have injected the former Twins second baseman with HGH.
- Mark McGwire: Admitted in 2010 to using steroids, then HGH. Anyone who watched the home run derby here in 1998 wasn't surprised.