Weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun this week reported that current Nippon Ham Fighters manager Tsuyoshi Shinjo was Japanese pro baseball’s positive doping case zero, according to the team’s chief executive in 2006, when the outfielder tested positive for amphetamines.
The timing of Shinjo’s announcement on April 18, just a few weeks into the season, was peculiar, and the article suggests that the two were related.
The article quotes Takeshi Kojima, then the team’s official representative to Nippon Professional Baseball, as confirming the positive test as well as NPB’s chaotic approach to the beginning of its testing regime.
Because NPB and the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association agreed that those testing positive in 2006, the first year of testing, would neither be named or punished. Of the 105 players tested that year, Shinjo was apparently the only who tested positive.
“The party that was really confused was NPB,” an official source said. “If it was a stimulant, then it would possibly develop into a criminal case. (Lame duck) commissioner Yasuchika Negoro indicated that it ought to be taken to the public prosecutors, and if then secretary general Kazuo Hasegawa had gone to consult with the Metropolitan Police, it would have brought a response from Section 5 of Tokyo’s Organized Crime Task Force.”
In the end, the Fighters and NPB decided after a 90-minute discussion to keep it in house. Kojima related the subsequent conversation he had with Shinjo, in which the player said he’d occasionally taken greenies in MLB and had sometimes taken them on a day game following a night game.
Kojima said Fighters players had been required to submit all the supplements they took to the team’s medical staff for evaluation, but Shinjo had not done so. The player said he had lacked the necessary caution and apologized for his transgression.
Greenies were not illegal in Japan but required a prescription, and were considered controlled substances in NPB’s doping regime because of their adverse health effects.
Two days after the article ran, the magazine reported that Shinjo had yet to meet the media.
Even before NPB teams shackled reporters in order to “prevent viral transmission” teams have been known to proscribe any number of topics, and the Fighters in the past have proved no more liberal in this regard than other teams, so I wouldn’t be surprised if reporters have been barred from asking Shinjo about it.