MLS Drug Suspension for Conway and Parke

I never intended to make consecutive soccer related posts, but the breaking news out of New York deserves some attention.  For the first time in MLS history, the League has handed down a suspension for use of performance enhancing drugs (the League has had its drug policy for 9 years).    New York Red Bulls Goalkeeper Jon Conway and Defender Jeff Parke were each suspended 10 games after testing positive for using performance enhancing drugs.  Apparently androstatriendione (ATD) and boldenone metabolites were the ingredients at issue in an OTC supplement.  According to Red Bulls officials, both players admitted ingesting the supplement but denied knowledge that the banned substances were an ingredient.

In a League with a 30 game season, the 10 game suspension is significant, especially for a first offense (what would Donald Fehr say??).  In addition, the League has fined each player 10% of their salary.  According to SBI, Conway is in the first year of a four-year contract signed last off-season. His 2008 salary is $110,000.  Jeff Parke’s 2008 salary is just under $57,500, meaning he will be fined just under $5,750 for the violation.”

From a team perspective, the Red Bulls lose two starters with just two games remaining in the regular season with the team fighting for one of the two playoff wild card spots.  From a legal perspective, this dramatic action certainly reflects the League’s stiff drug penalties.  ESPN reported during their broadcast of the Revs/DC game tonight that the investigation of both players lasted over two months.  There is an appellate procedure through the MLS Player’s Union.  Whether the players will pursue this avenue is not yet known.  The League’s press Release is below (courtesy of the Washington Post)

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Union and the League, the Union has ten days to appeal the decision in writing.  Within ten days of receiving the appeal, the League must hold a hearing where the player and/or his designee are in attendance.  The League must then issue a written decision.

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced today that he has suspended and fined New York Red Bulls players Jon Conway and Jeff Parke for violating the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) Policy by testing positive for androstatriendione (ATD) and boldenone metabolites, performance-enhancing substances. Each player is suspended for 10 MLS games, including regular season and playoffs, effective immediately, and each has also been fined 10 percent of his annual salary. During the suspension, the players may not participate in any other competitions. The players purchased and ingested an over-the-counter nutritional supplement containing ATD, a substance that metabolizes into boldenone. Both ATD and boldenone are banned substances under MLS’s SABH policy. The supplement was purchased from a vitamin store that is part of a national chain. “MLS has one of the strictest drug policies in professional sports and holds its athletes both responsible and accountable for what they put into their bodies,” Garber said. “This is an important statement as to the high standards to which we hold our players.”


  1. forza azzuri says:

    Seems like it’s a little excessive to suspend someone for 1/3 of the season for taking an over the counter product. i understand the need for tough standards and strict enforcement/testing, but this is WAY too much of a punishment.

  2. forza azzuri says:

    OK, even more info here on Soccer by Ives.
    What’s most interesting is the following quote from the Red Bulls – “Guter also said that the supplement that led to the positive test for androstatriendione did not have androstatriendione on the list of ingredients.” Guter is the head trainer for the Red Bulls. A big “booooooo” to the MLS on this one.

  3. Ben Berger says:

    I disagree with your thoughts on the severity of the punishment. This was the first time MLS was handing down a punishment for drug use. I think they felt obligated to send a strong message.

    As for Boooo to MLS, I think they set up a phone line for people to contact if they had questions and plus the trainers were accessible.

  4. forza azzuri says:

    agreed, they do have those processes in place and the players didn’t follow them. the fine i have no problem with. but the length of the the penalty is way to extreme for my taste.

  5. Great post! Lovely!

  6. howdy, i never feel in any doing this you help to make very good stage.

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