LEAD: Yomiuri infielder Gonzalez suspended for doping

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TOKYO, May 26 (23:08) Kyodo


Nippon Professional Baseball said Monday it has handed Yomiuri
Giants infielder Luis Gonzalez a one-year suspension due to doping

NPB's drug test conducted in late April found that Gonzalez had
taken stimulants clobenzorex, amphetamine and parahydroxyamfetamine,
which are on the list of banned substances in Japanese baseball.

Yomiuri said the same day that the Central League club plans to
release the 28-year-old Venezuelan shortly.

''This is a big setback for sporting circles and what we need to
do is to handle the matter properly in order to prevent something
like this happening again,'' acting Japanese baseball commissioner
Yasuchika Negoro said.

Gonzalez denied that he has intentionally taken any banned
substances and claimed that the punishment is too harsh.

According to NPB, there was a positive case among the samples
collected after tests were conducted following an April 30 game
between Yomiuri and the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome. It turned out
on May 20 that the sample which proved positive was Gonzalez's.

NPB held a hearing with Gonzalez on Saturday, in which he
claimed he did not take any of such substances, any tablets or any
other things suspected to contain banned substances.

NPB decided to suspend him for one year, effective Monday, at an
anti-doping special committee held earlier in the day.

''We want to believe that he did not take those substances
intentionally but we plan to sever ties with him,'' Yomiuri club
representative Hidetoshi Kiyotake said. ''It's a shame because our
front office has repeatedly spoken to the players about doping and we
deeply apology to our fans.''

Gonzalez is the second player to receive a suspension for doping
after NPB began full-fledged drug tests last year.

Last August, Softbank right-hander Rick Guttormson was suspended
for 20 days for the use of finasteride, which was contained in the
hair-growing agent he had been taking for about two years.

Gonzalez, a former Colorado Rockies player who joined Yomiuri in
2007, hit .307 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 32 games this season
before being removed from the top-team roster on Friday. He has a
.283 career average, five homers and 29 RBIs in Japan.

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