Retired All-Star Lee Sung-Yong admits to doping, retracts a day later

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A rather bizarre story is brewing regarding former Hyundai/Nexen first baseman Lee Sung-Yong. Lee played in the league for 18 seasons, winning four Korea Series Championships with the Unicorns, before finally retiring after the 2011 season with the Nexen Heroes. Lee is currently working for cable TV broadcaster XTM as a baseball announcer.

Lee recently appeared on a talk show in which he claimed that he used a stimulant during his playing career, but he did not mention any specific drug by name. He said it gave him energy, made him feel good, allowed him to concentrate, and even made the ball appear bigger. Less than 24 hours later Lee issued a statement claiming that his comments made during the talk show were false, and that he only said them to make the show more entertaining. He added that he had seen foreign players who regularly used the drug, but he had not used it himself.

The KBO will not investigate, claiming that it will be impossible to prove without hard evidence.

More coverage from Yonhap News: Ex-baseball player retracts comments on stimulant use

So, what exactly is going on here? I have a hard time believing that a baseball player would admit to something like this just to make his appearance on a talk show more entertaining, especially someone who is still very much in the public eye, as a TV announcer. Did he think people wouldn't notice this, and then panicked when the story hit the internet? Did he actually use the drugs? Does it matter? I just don't know what to make of this story. The KBO didn't start testing for drugs until 2007. Were players using performance enhancing drugs before then? Probably, but it's hard to tell to what extent. There have been statements from retired players in the past, but usually of a more anonymous nature, such as "I saw some (unnamed) players using steriods," etc. Foreign players have often taken a lot of the blame for drugs in Korean baseball, and we see Lee doing the same with his retraction. Current KBO policy is that all foreign players must submit to drug tests, while Korean players are randomly tested.