Former Red Sox outfielder Marlon Byrd has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Tamoxifen, a performance-enhancing drug, Major League Baseball announced today.
Byrd denied that he used Tamoxifen for performance-enhancing purposes, however. In a statement released by the MLB Players Association, Byrd claimed that, several years ago, he underwent surgery to fix a condition "private and unrelated to baseball." When the unnamed condition relapsed over the winter, Byrd said, he began taking Tamoxifen.
"I made an inexcusable mistake," Byrd said in the statement. "Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance enhancement reasons.
"I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a club win later this season."
Byrd, who had been designated for assignment by the Sox on June 9 to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka, was found in violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. His suspension begins immediately, and will last through Aug. 20.
In 34 games with Boston this season after being traded from the Cubs, the 34-year-old Byrd was hitting .270 with a .606 OPS.
"He played here and he played well," manager Bobby Valentine said. "But I had no indication. I don't think anybody here did.''
Asked if Byrd had been tested during his time with the Red Sox, Valentine said, "I do not know that. But I can tell you, I was just in the training room and they had no idea that he even got found out.''
Byrd had been working with Victor Conte, the infamous founder of BALCO who supplied PEDs to numerous professional athletes and served prison time for conspiracy to distribute steroids in 2005. Byrd was the only professional baseball player still associated with Conte, and their relationship was featured in Feburary on the HBO show "Real Sports," though Byrd said he was just purchasing supplements from Conte.
"There's no need," Byrd said at the time of his affiliation with Conte. "I get tested. Major League Baseball knows they can test guys any time. It's random. I don't have any worries. I don't think Major League Baseball has any worries. Victor's name is what it is, but at some point, everyone is going to have to move on."
Primarily taken orally in tablet form, Tamoxifen is a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer in men and women by interfering with estrogen activity, thereby boosting testosterone levels. It can alleviate side effects caused by steroids.