Pirates All-Star Starling Marte banned 80 games for PEDs


REUTERS -- Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Starling Marte has been banned 80 games for violating Major League Baseball's policy against performance-enhancing drugs, the league said on Tuesday.

Marte, a two-time Gold Glove winner who last year played in his first All-Star Game, tested positive for nandrolone, MLB said in a statement.

The suspension of the 28-year-old Dominican, who has been with Pittsburgh since his MLB debut in 2012, is effective immediately.

Marte apologized and promised to learn from his mistake.

"Neglect and lack of knowledge have led me to this mistake with the high price to pay of being away from the field that I enjoy and love so much," Marte said in a translated statement.

"With much embarrassment and helplessness, I ask for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in my work and have supported me so much."

MLB's policy on performance-enhancing drugs calls for an 80-game ban for a first offense, 162 games for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third offense.

Players who are banned under the PED policy are ineligible to participate in that year's postseason.

Marte, who was signed to a six-year, $31 million contract extension in 2014, was batting .241 through the first 13 games of the 162-game regular season.

Last year, he led the Pirates with a .311 batting average and 47 stolen bases.

"We are disappointed that Starling put himself, his teammates and the organization in this position," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement.

"We will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break."

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Keating.