August 6, 2007
Albany - South Georgia Peanuts manager Wally Backman lashed out at the South Coast League's drug policy after two of his top players have been suspended for violating that policy.
Backman is questioning the integrity of the testing procedure and the integrity of the League's medical director who is in charge of administering the tests.
The suspended players are outfielder Doc Brooks and infielder Joey Hooft who both are appealing their suspensions.
Wally Backman pulled out a bottle during a press conference Monday afternoon at the Paul Eames Complex.
Backman said "This is what they took. It is dietary supplement. It is Niacin."
And according to South Georgia Peanuts manager Wally Backman Niacin is was got both outfielder Doc Brooks and infielder Joey Hooft ten game suspensions for failing a drug test administered by the South Coast League two weeks ago.
Backman said "This is a legal substance that you can take."
The problem Wally Backman says is the way the South Coast League conducted its test.
Backman says players weren't allowed to tell what type of supplements or medication they had been taking which the reader of the test would take into account when determining the results.
Backman also says samples were not sealed in front of the players and that there was nothing random in the selection of players from some teams.
Backman says that players from the Bradenton Juice have told him that their trainer Robert Desantis asked them for the names of 15 players from that team who would pass a drug test.
Desantis is also the South Coast League's Medical Director.
Wally Backman said "Robert Desantis did not do his job properly and and that is a fact."
South Coast League president Jamie Toole defended Desantis and said the tests were given to players on a random basis.
Toole says Desantis is no longer working for the Bradenton team since it has been playing all of hits home games on the road this season.
Toole says Desantis has told him that Niacin would not show up as a masking agent.
But last week, Desantis told the Aiken South Carolina Standard that a masking agent is usually a diruetic that acts as a cleansing agent in urine.
Which is what Doc Brooks niacin bottle claims its product does.
Backman reading from from the Niacin bottle said "May cause a temporary flushing reaction. So basically it flushing your system.'
Other Peanut players tested were also taking Niacin.
Backman says he has been told those players passed the test because they didn't eat any food shortly after ingesting the supplement.
Both Brooks and Hooft will appeal their suspensions to try to clear their names.
A failed drug test is the last thing Doc Brooks needs after he was suspended earlier this year for 50 games for violating baseball's substance abuse policy.
Wally Backman said "I believe him. I have know Doc for a long time. He made mistake one time. It is unfortunate. And he is probably the best player in the league."
And the fact that the two players suspended are two of the best on the Peanuts staff has not gone unnoticed by their manager.Backman said "I don't know if a witch hunt is the right word. We always seem to have the problems here. We always seem to have the biggest things come about." Backman wants both players re-tested.
If that happens, the Peanuts manager is confident both will pass with flying colors.
South Coast League president Jamie Toole says the league hopes to have more information about the Peanuts drug testing issues later this week.
Toole added he was not happy with Backman's statement Monday and indicated the manager, who has been suspended three times already this season, may face further disciplinary action.
Doc Brooks is at home in Phenix City Alabama.
Joey Hooft the Peanuts say will not be available to comment until tomorrow.
Tampa Bay at Detroit 7:05 p.m.
Cleveland at Minnesota 8:10 p.m.
Oakland at Texas 8:35 p.m.
Boston at L.A. Angels 10:05 p.m.
San Diego at St. Louis 7:05 p.m.
Chi Cubs at Houston 8:05 p.m.
Milwaukee at Colorado 9:05 p.m.
Washington at San Francisco 10:15 p.m.