Doctor Defends Stem Cell Procedure On Yankees’ Bartolo Colon
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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — One of the doctors who assisted in a stem cell procedure last year on Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon that is being scrutinized by Major League Baseball denied that the treatment involved the use of banned substances.
Dr. Leonel Liriano said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that his medical team consulted with Colon’s agent and lawyers in New York before beginning the treatment in Colon’s native Dominican Republic.
Liriano is the medical director for U.S.-based Regenocyte in the Dominican Republic. The company specializes in the use of stem cells for regenerative therapy.
“We didn’t use human growth hormone with Bartolo,” Liriano said. “It was a totally clean process in which we did not use anything out of place or regulated by the major leagues.”
The New York Times first reported the procedure on its website Wednesday night.
Liriano said the 37-year-old Colon, the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, was treated in April 2010 with a procedure designed to regenerate tissue in his shoulder and elbow. The treatment took place in the city of Santiago, about 90 miles north of Santo Domingo.
Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon in Boca Raton, Fla., told the Times that he flew to the Dominican Republic to assist with the treatment. Purita also acknowledged using HGH in similar procedures before, but denied using it in Colon’s case.
HGH is banned by Major League Baseball.
The Yankees notified MLB upon learning of the procedure. League spokesman Pat Courtney told the Times that it is “looking into it.”
Colon has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees this season.
After spending last season out of the major leagues, the former Los Angeles Angels ace agreed to a minor league deal in February. Colon pitched well in spring training and earned a spot in the starting rotation, which he’s solidified with a few strong performances and the nagging injury to fellow starting pitcher Phil Hughes.
Colon is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven games this season.
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