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Marlins C Paulino suspended for positive drug test

- Associated Press - Friday, August 20, 2010

MIAMI (AP) - Saying catcher Ronny Paulino's decision to take a banned substance was "extraordinarily disappointing," the Florida Marlins will begin a top-to-bottom review of the organization and how it educates players on what they can legally take under baseball's rules.

Paulino was suspended 50 games Friday after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance under Major League Baseball's drug policy.

In a statement released by the team, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Paulino said he took a diet pill.

"It is extraordinarily disappointing," Marlins president David Samson said. "And I'll leave it at that."

The Marlins have had four players suspended under the minor league policy this season as well.

Paulino's suspension begins immediately, and since the Marlins have only 42 games remaining, will extend into the 2011 season. The Marlins hosted the Houston Astros on Friday night.

"To control my weight this season, I used a dietary pill," Paulino said in a statement released by the team. "I recently learned that the dietary pill contained a substance banned under Major League Baseball's drug policy. I am ashamed and saddened for disappointing and distracting my family, my teammates, the entire Florida Marlins organization and baseball fans."

Neither Samson nor general manager Larry Beinfest said they had spoken with Paulino, whose belongings were still in his locker as teammates arrived for work Friday.

"It's a tough situation for this whole team, for Ronny," said catcher Brett Hayes, who was in Friday's lineup. "All I heard is that he got banged for 50 games. I don't know what he took. ... All that stuff is scary stuff especially nowadays in sports. I feel for Ronny. It's a terrible situation. He is a great teammate, he's still a great teammate, he's still a good person."

Beinfest was first to hear of the 50-game suspension, then contacted owner Jeffrey Loria, who ordered the team to review its practices on educating players.

"Everything we do, from the Dominican League up to the major leagues," Samson said.

Samson said players at all levels of the organization are taught to look for what's known as NSF certification on anything they choose to ingest. NSF International is a company that gives athletes and consumers another resource to ensure the products they take are clean.

Otherwise, Samson said, it's DNT _ Do Not Take, in Marlins vernacular.

"I don't care if it's a Flintstones vitamin or something in a hypodermic needle," Samson said.

Paulino is batting .259 with four homers and 37 RBIs in his sixth season in the majors. He got off to a solid start this year but has struggled since the All-Star break, hitting .195 with just one home run.

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez called a pregame meeting Friday, just to remind players of the consequences for taking anything illegal.

"I have to say I was surprised," Rodriguez said. "Nobody expected that. It's a very complicated matter, but then again, what happened happened and we have to move on."

Florida (60-60) began the day 10 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and eight back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the wild-card race.

Paulino figures to lose about $272,000 in salary. The Marlins placed Paulino on the restricted list and recalled catcher Brad Davis from Triple-A New Orleans.

"I accept full responsibility and all consequences for this mistake, and therefore choose not to challenge my suspension," the 29-year-old Paulino said. "I was irresponsible for failing to take all precautionary steps in confirming the approval of the dietary pill. Without a doubt, I have learned from my mistake."

Paulino is the second player to be suspended this year under the major league drug policy. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez received a 50-game ban in April for a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance.

Paulino, a native of the Dominican Republic, began his big league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was traded three times after the 2008 season, landing in Florida when the Marlins acquired him from San Francisco for a minor league pitcher.

"This is not behavior we tolerate," Samson said. "This is not how you get ahead. This is, for any kid who is playing baseball and wants to play baseball, you do not become a major leaguer or a better major leaguer by violating policies. You just don't."

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