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Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Updated: April 30, 10:53 AM ET
Sources: Braves' banned prospect didn't test positive for HGH

ESPN.com news services

Jordan Schafer, the Atlanta Braves' prospect suspended for 50 games for human growth hormone use, did not test positive for HGH. Rather, he was suspended after major league baseball probed anecdotal evidence of HGH use by Schafer, two sources familiar with Schafer's case told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Human growth hormone is a banned substance under the current drug-testing agreement between the owners and players, but the sport, like other professional sports leagues in the U.S., does not test for HGH.

But Major League Baseball does have the authority within the agreement to pursue specific information about possible violations. Schafer is the first casualty of MLB's new Department of Investigations, sources familiar with the case told ESPN's T.J. Quinn.

Two sources said Wednesday that Jordan, regarded as Atlanta's future center fielder, received the growth hormone from someone close to him but outside the organization, and that a player who had previously violated MLB's anti-doping policy informed baseball officials that Schafer was using the all-but-undetectable drug.

Both sources said Schafer did not receive HGH from an online pharmacy, and that his name had not surfaced from a law enforcement investigation, as previous players had.

The investigations department was created shortly after the release of George Mitchell's report on baseball's steroid history, which suggested that MLB create the unit as a way of actively pursuing doping violations.

While MLB does not test for HGH and the World Anti-Doping Agency uses a blood test it believes to be viable, no athlete has ever failed it. Schafer's suspension was the result of a "non-analytical positive," meaning MLB was able to establish that he obtained or used HGH through other means.

The 21-year-old Schafer, picked third by Atlanta in 2005, led the minor leagues with 176 hits and ranked third with 49 doubles. He also had 15 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 136 games. He came into spring training as the Braves' No. 1 prospect.

This spring in Grapefruit League games, Schafer hit .316 and had a .421 on-base percentage. Braves manager Bobby Cox was quoted as saying Schafer could play center field now despite his relative inexperience, which includes no games above Class A before this season.

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn was used in this report.