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New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway and defender Jeff Parke have been suspended 10 matches each and fined 10 percent of their annual salaries after testing positive for a banned perfomance enhancing drug, MLS announced on Thursday.
Conway and Parke tested positive for androstatriendione (ATD) and boldenone metabolites, two banned performance enhancing substances. They will now miss the remainding two regular season matches and the playoffs, if the Red Bulls qualify.
The suspensions are the longest in MLS history.
“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,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “This is an important statement as to the high standards to which we hold our players.”
According to a league release, Conway and Parke purchased the nutrional supplement with the banned substances from a national vitamin store chain.
Red Bulls managing director Erik Stover released the following statement:
“Jon and Jeff have been valuable members of the Red Bulls organization, both on the field and in the Greater New York community," Stover said. “This is a sad day for our club and our fans.
"We are extremely disappointed that Jon and Jeff have tested positive for a substance banned by MLS’s policy. We have met with both players and they informed us that they ingested an over-the-counter supplement that unknowingly contained a banned substance. However, the Red Bulls support MLS’ policy and believe that performance enhancing drugs have no place in professional sports.”
So what went wrong? It seems pretty clear that Conway and Parke purchased and ingested nutritional supplements that did not meet the strict guidelines of the MLS substance abuse policy. It might seem like a simple mistake, but this is professional sports and there are strict guidelines in place that pro athletes must follow to avoid this very kind of situation.
Conway is in the first year of a four-year contract he just signed last off-season. His 2008 salary is $110,000, meaning he is facing an $11,000 fine for the violation. Jeff Parke’s 2008 salary is just under $57,500, meaning he will be fined just under $5,750 for the violation.
The shocking news puts a major dent into the Red Bulls’ quest for a playoff spot as now the team will have to rely on untested back-up goalkeeper Danny Cepero, while also trying to replace Parke in central defense.
So what will the team look like now? Here’s a lineup we could see on Saturday:
Van den Bergh—–Magee———Richards
What do you think of the news? Does this effectively end the Red Bulls’ playoff hopes? Could it be a blessing in disguise?