CLEARWATER, Fla. – Thomas Pannone, a left-handed pitching prospect who had been slated to open the season in the Toronto Blue Jays‘ triple-A rotation, received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, MLB announced Friday.
Pannone tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, also known as DHCMT, the same substance that triggered an 80-game suspension for Chris Colabello in 2016. Like Colabello, he denies knowingly using DHCMT.
“I have never taken a performance enhancing drug in my career,” Pannone wrote in a statement on Twitter. “In an effort to exhaust all options to prove my innocence, I agreed to undergo a three-hour polygraph test administered by an experienced former FBI agent. The test results showed I was truthful, passing with one of the highest scores possible.”
An 80-game suspension would sideline Pannone for the first half of the 2018 season and cost the Blue Jays one of their top depth starters. The 23-year-old posted a 2.36 ERA with 149 strikeouts and 36 walks in 144.2 innings last year, when he split time between two of Cleveland’s affiliates and Toronto’s double-A team.
Pannone says he found out about the results on Jan. 30, and has since spent every day trying to figure out how he could have tested positive.
“I am left deeply troubled and concerned,” he wrote.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins released the following statement in response to Pannone’s suspension.
“I have personally known Thomas as long as he’s been in professional baseball and I have only known him to have exceptionally high character and integrity, so when I heard this news I was extremely surprised. Additionally, when he informed me that he was unaware of how this substance got into his system, I believed him at his word. We will continue to support Thomas and focus on his return to helping this organization after his suspension. Having said that, we feel strongly that the MLB Joint Drug Program has helped the game of baseball and will continue to do so.”
As Arden Zwelling reported after Colabello’s suspension, DHCMT is an anabolic steroid with East German roots that’s been around for more than half a century. It’s commonly known as turinabol and ingested orally.