Blue Jays prospect Griffin Conine, the 52nd player chosen in last June’s draft released a statement in view of the 50 game ban he received for a positive performance-enhancing drug this week via Twitter:
— Griffin Conine (@Griffin_Co9) November 19, 2018
While minor league drug PED suspensions have become somewhat commonplace (90 this year, to date), the Blue Jays are particularly sensitive about the issue. Pitchers Thomas Pannone and Joel Espinal received suspensions earlier this year, and 7 connected with the team’s Dominican complex were found to be in violation last fall.
Conine tested positive for Ritalinic Acid, more commonly known as Ritalin, which is used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperacitivty Disorder (ADHD). Ritalin helps to produce dopamine in the brain, and can help improve cognition and working memory, with a simultaneous impact on impulse control. Because it’s technically a stimulant, Ritalin is banned by both WADA and the USADA, as it is believed to improve endurance and strength.
Athletes who require such medications can apply for a therapeutic use exemption, so that they can continue its use. This past season, 116 MLB players received such an exemption. The use of ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall is highly suspect in some circles.
MiLB players are specifically warned about banned substances, and information is available in every clubhouse. Conine, to his credit, did not deny using Ritalin, and will not appeal the suspension. It’s always interesting to see which players are caught using PEDs. It rarely seems to be the elite prospects – with his draft status, Conine could be seen as one, but his draft stock tumbled over the course of this spring, as he went from Cape Cod top prospect in 2017 and seemingly sure-fire top 10 or 15 choice this year to the middle of the 2nd round. Did he take the meds in order to get back on top of his game, or does Conine have a medical condition that’s legitimately helped by a recognized drug? Either way, he had to have known that it was a banned substance – players are responsible for everything they put into their bodies.
It’s hard to say where Conine would have started 2019. Dunedin is the preferred next step in the progression for college draftees who played in Vancouver, although his line (.243/.314/.430) suggests that some time in Lansing might be the tonic to restore his confidence. He’s set his development back somewhat – 50 games will take him into the end of May/beginning of June before he can resume his career.