Josh Hamilton Reportedly Relapsed With Cocaine And May Face A Lengthy Suspension

It appears that Josh Hamilton has tripped in his uphill climb to stay sober. The Angels outfielder lost four years when he was a top prospect in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system due to heroin, alcohol, and cocaine addiction, but he turned his life around and became an inspirational figure and a five-time All-Star with the Texas Rangers.

Now, however, all of Hamilton’s progress hangs in the balance as reports indicate that he may be facing discipline from the league after a meeting at the commissioner’s office on Thursday.

If these reports are proven true, it wouldn’t be Hamilton’s first known relapse. In 2012, Hamilton acknowledged that he had a few drinks in the off-season, coming clean of his own volition just like he has in this instance. He also had a similar relapse in 2009.

According to FOX’s Jon Paul Morosi, Hamilton’s past is fair game when considering the length and level of his punishment. Hamilton’s past infractions occurred when he was a minor leaguer, but he was reinstated at then-commissioner Bud Selig’s discretion in 2006, so this could be complicated and lengthy.

Hamilton’s suspensions added up to just shy of two years from 2004 to 2006.

Here’s a bit about baseball’s drug policy from MLB Trade Rumors.

The JDA [Joint Drug Agreement] does include provisions for players who have been suspended for one year after more than four violations of their individualized treatment program. It provides that the commissioner may impose discipline “consistent with the concept of progressive discipline,” seemingly suggesting a more advanced punishment than those already levied. Of course, circumstances such as the time that has passed could presumably also factor in to the decisionmaking process, and it is not clear whether those provisions would hold sway in this case.

Would a year or more away from the game and the everyday structure of being a pro athlete make sense for a recovering addict who came clean on his own and reportedly did not fail a drug test?

One could argue that, beyond the financial ramifications, such a punishment wouldn’t be helpful for Hamilton. A lengthy suspension would be, first and foremost, an effort to use Hamilton as an example. But after a decade spent rebuilding his life and his career, doesn’t Josh Hamilton deserve to be more than a cautionary tale? Isn’t he the realistic and human face for a model recovery despite, and also because, of his mistakes? To me, the best thing for Josh Hamilton, and anyone who has drawn inspiration from his struggle, would be to see him rise up from this. Making that harder and elongating this process helps no one.

(Source: CBS Sports)