US pitcher becomes first to fail baseball drug test in Japan


Sat, Aug 11, 2007 - Page 20

A US pitcher has become the first player ever to fail a drug test in Japanese baseball.

The commissioner of Japanese professional baseball announced yesterday that Rick Guttormson of the Softbank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League tested positive for a banned substance and has been suspended for 20 days.

Japanese baseball officials said a post-game doping test on July 13 revealed Finasteride in Guttormson's system.

Finasteride was in a hair-growing agent Guttormson had been taking for two years. It is not performance-enhancing but is banned because it can be used as a masking agent.

"This is extremely regrettable," Japanese baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro said. "We have been very nervous about the issue of doping and we'll need to step up our efforts."

The commissioner's office also fined the Pacific League club US$63,000.

Guttormson, a 30-year-old right-hander, is 5-6 this season.