Former Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia said he will appeal his lifetime ban by Major League Baseball for a third positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, and that MLB essentially took part in a witch hunt against him after he did not provide information that would incriminate another player.
The allegations, which Mejia and his lawyer, Vincent White, leveled during a news conference yesterday in Long Island City, were that after his second test, a league representative told Mejia that failure to disclose the information could lead to a third positive test.
In a statement Friday, MLB denied Mejia’s allegations, calling them “wild” and “unsupported.”
Mejia received a mandatory lifetime ban last month, and though he admitted the first test was accurate, he reiterated Friday that he was not on steroids when he took the final two tests. Though it is a lifetime ban, a player is allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year, and, if approved, can rejoin baseball one year after that.
Mejia said he previously didn’t appeal because he had negotiated an undisclosed deal with the league.
“I’m here to appeal the case because I don’t feel at fault,” Mejia said in Spanish, adding that he tested positive the first time after falling ill and taking something his brother was using. “I felt a lot of pressure [in speaking out against baseball]. It’s not easy . . . Everyone knows MLB, that it’s made up of very powerful people.”
White accused MLB of “dirty cop tactics.”
“Mr. Mejia was told . . . if he did not provide testimony on a particular player they wanted to investigate, they would go out of their way to find him positive a third time,” White said. “You can’t pressure someone and say we’ll take away your livelihood if you don’t give me the people I want. Frankly, he didn’t even have that information. He couldn’t even give them what they want and they were still ready to take away his livelihood.”
Mejia and White said they plan to pursue litigation, along with the players’ union, which White said has hired outside counsel. A representative for the union could not comment, citing the confidentiality provisions in the joint drug agreement between the league and the MLBPA.
“They wanted to pressure him to turn over people that they were more interested in,” White said. “I believe they were frustrated when they did not get that information.”
Asked if they believe MLB manufactured false positives, White said he could not comment because of the confidentiality provisions.
In a statement released hours after Mejia’s news conference, MLB said no league representatives spoke to Mejia about his drug violations and that those conversations must involve a union representative (Mejia alleges that only he and his agent, Peter Greenberg, were in the room with the league representative. Greenberg, who was not at the news conference, did not respond to a request for comment.)
“Sadly, the comments made by Mr. Mejia and his representatives today continue a pattern of athletes hiring aggressive lawyers and making wild, unsupported allegations about the conduct of others in an effort to clear their names,” the statement said. “Mr. Mejia’s record demonstrates that he was a repeated user of banned performance-enhancing substances. As such, per our collectively bargained rules, he has no place as an active player in the game today.”
White further alleges that he has a witness close to baseball who says MLB hired a third-party company to hack into players’ personal social media accounts to find evidence of PED use. White said he hopes what he called new information will hasten Mejia’s return to baseball, and that his testimony during litigation will shed light on the situation.