Doctor Defends Stem Cell Procedure On Yankees’ Bartolo Colon

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.

What do you think of Colon’s procedure? Sound off below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Hoyt Pembrooke

    The future of sports and medicine in general in 25 years
    from now these Dr’s will be thought of as early pioneers.
    I would think as an old timer now that in the 1940’s and 1950’s
    many players were taking “Pep pills” aka Amphetamines but
    no one thought anything about it.

  • Ugly Jeter

    I don’t think they can detect HGH. That is one of the problem with taking the Fountain Of Youth!.

  • Randall McMurphy

    With the outrageous money paid to guys who throw and hit baseballs, which by the way blows my mind, it’s no wonder that pro athletes will go to any extreme to keep that $$$ coming in. Send lawyers, drugs, and money! (and doctors too)

  • Tommy C

    If the doctors say they “DIDN’T” use HGH . who are we to argue with them .Test him and get it out of the way. Plus “IF” they did use HGH it was off-season and Colon wasn’t under contract therefore NOT obligated to adhere to the laws of MLB. “ITS MUCH TO DO ABOUT NOTHING”

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