Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. suspended 80 games for performance-enhancing drugs

·Writer
·6 min read

Just as he was nearing a return from a wrist fracture, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was suspended 80 games Friday after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance.

The suspension is effective immediately.

MLB's full statement:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The suspension of Tatis is effective immediately.

Minutes after the suspension was announced, the Padres released a statement saying they were "extremely disappointed" by the news and hoped Tatis "will learn from this experience."

“We were surprised and extremely disappointed to learn today that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game suspension without pay. We fully support the Program and are hopeful that Fernando will learn from this experience.”

The suspension will cause Tatis to miss the remainder of the 2022 season, in which he has not played an MLB game, plus as many as 32 games next season. He will also be ineligible for this year's postseason.

Few, if any, MLB suspensions for PEDs have been as shocking as Tatis, who was positioned as one of the league's brightest young stars on an ascending team brimming with talent. The cover athlete of "MLB The Show 21," Tatis has hit .292/.369/.596 with 81 home runs and 52 stolen bases in 273 career games.

For all his brilliance, though, Tatis' career has not been without frustration for the Padres. He had so far missed all of 2022 after fracturing his wrist in a motorcycle accident during the offseason. When asked when the accident occurred, he famously said "Which one?"

Tatis, who signed a 14-year, $340 million contract extension ahead of the 2021 season, was finally nearing a return from that injury, having played four games on a rehab assignment entering Friday, but now his season is officially over.

Fernando Tatis Jr. responds to suspension, blames ringworm medication

In response to his suspension, Tatis released a statement claiming he "inadvertently" took a medication containing Clostebol to treat a case of ringworm. The shortstop acknowledged he should have checked to see if the medication contained a banned substance and apologized to the Padres and the rest of baseball.

The full statement:

I have been informed by Major League Baseball that a test sample I submitted returned a positive result for Clostebol, a banned substance. It turns out that I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm that contained Clostebol. I should have used the resources available to me in order to ensure that no banned substances were in what I took. I failed to do so.

I want to apologize to Peter, AJ, the entire Padres organization, my teammates, Major League Baseball, and fans everywhere for my mistake. I have no excuse for my error, and I would never do anything to cheat or disrespect this game I love.

I have taken countless drug tests throughout my professional career, including on March 29, 2022, all of which have returned negative results until this test.

I am completely devastated. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than on the field competing with my teammates. After initially appealing the suspension, I have realized that my mistake was the cause of this result, and for that reason I have decided to start serving my suspension immediately. I look forward to rejoining my teammates on the field in 2023.

Fernando Tatis Jr.'s PED suspension is a shocker. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Fernando Tatis Jr.'s PED suspension is a shocker. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Fernando Tatis Jr. not the 1st MLB player suspended for Clostebol

Clostebol is a synthetic androgenic anabolic steroid that has popped up in MLB before.

Past MLB players to be suspended after testing positive for the drug include Dee Strange-Gordon and Freddy Galvis. Like Tatis, both players denied taking the steroid intentionally, with Galvis saying he had no idea how the drug ended up in his urine sample and Gordon claiming he was unaware of ingesting it.

Of course, the "I didn't know I was taking a banned substance" defense, even for a drug that has such a history, means little at the elite levels of professional sports, where players are expected to run every medical drug they take past team doctors to avoid this exact situation.

A devastating blow for the Padres

For about 10 days, it was hard to not be excited about the Padres.

Already among MLB's most dynamic teams, San Diego sent shockwaves through the sport when they acquired Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, one of the few young players that can match Tatis' stardom, at the trade deadline in an exchange for an enormous haul of prospects.

With Soto aboard, the Padres were expected to form one of the most feared hitting trios in baseball with him, Tatis and third baseman Manny Machado once Tatis was back from his wrist injury, but that dream has now been moved to 2023. Tatis and Machado, both under contract through at least 2028, aren't going anywhere, but the team has only two more years of team control remaining with Soto after this year, unless he signs an extension.

For a team that has already traded away so many prospects to build a contender that can square off against the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers, losing its face of the franchise for a postseason is about the worst news it can get.

Padres GM does not sound pleased with Fernando Tatis Jr.

Few in the Padres organization are going to be as frustrated with this development as general manager A.J. Preller, who has been aggressively pursuing moves to surround Tatis with talent for years.

Speaking with reporters after the news broke, Preller issued a number of biting quotes questioning Tatis' maturity, referencing the suspension and motorcycle accident.

From The Athletic's Dennis Lin:

"I think we're hoping that from the offseason to now, that there would be some maturity. And obviously with the news today, it's more of a pattern and something we've got to dig a little bit more into. I'm sure he's very disappointed but at the end of the day, it's one thing to say it. you have to start by showing it with your actions."

And Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

"I think what we need to get to is a point in time where we trust. ... Over the course of the last six or seven months I think that's been something that we haven't really been able to have."

Not exactly what you want to hear about the 23-year-old to whom you are paying $340 million through 2034.