Indians’ Marlon Byrd suspended 162 games for drug violation

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Marlon Byrd #6 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field on May 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND– Cleveland Indians outfielder Marlon Byrd has been suspended 162 games for testing positive a second time for a performance-enhancing drug.

MLB officials said Wednesday that Byrd tested positive for Ipamorelin, a growth hormone releasing peptide.

Byrd was suspended for 50 games in 2012 shortly after he was released by Boston. Major League Baseball increased its penalty for a second offense in 2014 from 100 games to a full season.

He released the following statement:

“Today, I have accepted a 1 year suspension by Major League Baseball. Recently, I was notified that I had tested positive for Ipamorelin, a peptide prohibited by the JDA. In 2012, I tested positive for the medication Tamoxifen, which I was using on the advice of a physician for a medical condition resulting from surgery, and I accepted my suspension without challenge. Since that time, I have paid close attention to the substances that are banned by the Joint Drug Agreement, as I had no intention of taking any banned substances. I relied upon a medical professional for assistance and advice with respect to the supplements that I was taking. However, certain supplements I was taking were not on the NSF Certified for Sport list, and therefore, I assumed certain risks in taking them. When I learned that I had tested positive for Ipamorelin, I retained the services of private counsel and an independent chemist to determine the origin of the Ipamorelin test result because I never knowingly ingested Ipamorelin. After an extensive investigation by my lawyers and an independent chemist, it was concluded that the most likely source of Ipamorelin was a tainted supplement. I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and therefore, I have decided for forgo my right to an appeal in this matter and accept the suspension. I apologize for any harm this has caused the Cleveland Indians, Indians’ fans, my teammates, and most importantly, my family.”

Byrd’s lawyer Jay Reisinger said in a statement that the positive test resulted from a tainted supplement. He says Byrd won’t appeal the suspension.

The 38-year-old Byrd signed as a free agent in March with Cleveland, which needed veteran outfield depth because both left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall were recovering from injuries.

Byrd is batting .270 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 34 games. He went 4 for 4 with a homer on Monday night against Texas, and then struck out three times in a loss Tuesday. He spent last season with Cincinnati and San Francisco.

To replace Byrd on the roster, the Indians recalled outfielder Tyler Naquin from Triple-A Columbus.