E.A. Sports Today

Blanchard on hold

[corner-ad id=2]Former JSU standout set to serve 50-game suspension, eager to make amends



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Coty Blanchard was having his best year in pro ball. There was talk of him making the all-star game again.

But all those ambitions were put on hold late Tuesday night when the former two-sport star at Jacksonville State was given a 50-game suspension for violating minor league baseball’s substance policy in what should serve as a cautionary tale regarding the use of over-the-counter nutritional supplements.

Blanchard, a 15th-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, tested positive for amphetamine use. Fran Blanchard, the player’s father, said Wednesday team officials didn’t say “exactly what it was” his son tested positive for, just “a banned substance.”

The elder Blanchard told East Alabama Sports Today the only thing Coty told him he was taking was a pre-workout drink called “Assault,” which he obtained through a General Nutrition Corp. (GNC) retailer. He will be eligible to return to the full-season Single-A Bowling Green Hot Rods July 28.

“It was this pre-workout drink and he didn’t think anything about it,” Fran Blanchard said. “They had a random drug test that hit them all. He got the information yesterday he tested positive and he couldn’t believe it. He said the only thing I’m taking is this supplement.”

Coty Blanchard was traveling between Bowling Green and the Rays’ Port Charlotte, Fla., training facility Wednesday and couldn’t be reached for comment. His father spoke with him for about an hour Wednesday and said his son told him he was anxious to put this chapter of his career behind him and eager to make amends.

“I’ve flown under the radar this whole time, now my name is out there for the wrong thing,” Blanchard said his son told him. “But it’s out there. All I can do is let (the Rays) see I’m the first one on (the field) and the last one off and good things are going to come from me.”

Coty Blanchard is the 51st player suspended this season for violating the terms of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension comes without pay, costing him approximately $3,000 over the term, but the missing at-bats and game action is more costly for a player on the rise. He will be able to practice and work out during the suspension, but not play.

He was sixth in the Midwest League in hitting with a .314 average and 18 RBIs in 39 games playing second base, third base and the outfield. He recently hit his first full-season Single-A home run.

Blanchard said they feared the team might release him, but the family was encouraged by the Rays’ support.

“He met with their boss this morning and they told him, ‘Coty, of all the people you’d be the last (they’d have thought involved with this),’” Blanchard said. “They said they appreciated his honesty and we will not look at you any different when you come back from the 50 games. We want you to come back the player that left. That’s what he’s taking from this.”

The player asked about appealing the suspension and Blanchard said his son was told “it’s not worth it. Just go down and do what you’re supposed to do and we’ll see you on July 28.”

Fran Blanchard, a former Jacksonville State receiver who now uses supplements to support his current training regimen, said he and his son talked as recently as the Christmas holidays about supplements and checking their use with the team trainers.

He said former trainer James Skidmore often cautioned JSU athletes about supplements because, the elder Blanchard recalled being told, “you don’t know what derivatives of a certain substance may be in there to test you positive.” He said Skidmore would regularly admonish him about the energy drink Red Bull.

“I know there are a lot of naysayers who’d like to think there was something out of the realm with Coty’s 175-pound frame, but that’s not the case,” Blanchard said. “It was just Coty making a poor decision. He said there have been other guys who were taking the same supplement, but he tests positive for it.

“It’s his fault for (not) taking it to his trainer. This is what happens. For all the guys who think you don’t need to consult with your trainer here’s a kid who’s becoming the poster child for ‘take five minutes and take it to your trainer.’”

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