One of the worst things to go through in life, is to be accused of something you know you are innocent of. For former Blue Jays player Chris Colabello, this feeling is something he lives with to this very day.
Back in 2015, Colabello had found a new lease of life in Toronto after being picked up off waivers by the Blue Jays. During a season when he played a career-high 101 games, he led the team with a .321 batting average and was fourth with a .886 OPS.
The first baseman/outfielder helped the Blue Jays end their 21-year playoff drought and seemed to have found a new home in Southern Ontario. Then came the fateful date of April 22, 2016, when an announcement came which forever changed his life.
Suspended by MLB
Colabello was suspended 80 games without pay, for violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy, As reported at the time by Sports Illustrated, he had tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
The former Minnesota Twin free agent signing was understandably devastated by the turn of events. As per The Canadian Press via TSN, he released a statement which read:
"On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least expected phone calls of my entire life. I was informed by the Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how? The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I love this game too much! I care too deeply about it."
This suspension all but ended Colabello's baseball career in North America. Despite signing a couple of minor league contracts in Cleveland and Milwaukee after leaving Toronto, he never played in the Majors again.
The Framingham, Massachusetts native has maintained his innocence ever since, although he was rarely discussed in detail what happened. As such, when he recently took to social media to recount the incident, it understandably drew a lot of attention.
It was tough not to feel bad for Colabello, as he described the fallout from what happened. As per X/Twitter, he wrote:
"The effects that getting suspended (for something I would never dream of doing) had on me, are inexplicable. They caused depression and anxiety that made me seek out professional help. They caused a two year stretch in my life where I couldn’t enjoy the game that I have loved as much as I’ve ever loved anything. They caused strain on relationships in my life, and created a burden on my wife and parents that I wouldn’t wish on anyone."
Colabello made the point of adding he wasn't posting on social media to garner sympathy, but to share evidence of his continued pursuit to find the truth. He wrote:
"The documentary I am sharing here - “Doping Top Secret: GUILTY” - touches on how easy it is for subjects to test positive for banned substances, and tests people who get exposed via a simple touch of the skin on their hand, neck, and arm without ever ingesting the drug."
Here is a link to the documentary on YouTube, if you are interested in watching it. (It's narrated in German, but it does has English subtitles.) Colabello continued:
"Now they have published the article confirming what we already knew. It was in fact one of the drugs used for the study, and that each individual who was touched on the surface of their skin by the drug, tested positive for the same “trace metabolites” that we did for up to fifteen days. Here is that research:"
Here is the link to the Analytical Science Journal article, if you feel compelled to review it. It all makes for a fascinating insight into what has been discovered, and while you still can't be 100 percent sure Colabello is innocent, the information cannot be easily dismissed.
A quality person
One thing which was clear at the time the now 39-year-old was suspended, was how much his Blue Jays teammates loved him. This spoke volumes about his character as a player, but even more so, as a person.
It is this character, which drives Colabello to continue searching for the truth, so others don't go through the same pain he has endured over the years. He wrote:
"No innocent athlete deserves to have their reputations tarnished or the sport they love taken away from them. For many of us, the ripple effects went far beyond the obvious financial implications, and fundamentally altered the course of our lives."
As much as Colabello felt at one point he had to get away from baseball, he just can't escape his love for the game. As per Adam Laskaris of dailyhive.com, he currently works with youth baseball players through the Pelotero coaching program and app he co-founded.