Dr. Purita in ESPN

Bartolo Colon doctor says no to HGH

By Andrew Marchand


NEW YORK — Dr. Joseph R. Purita is willing to take a lie detector test to prove that he did not use human growth hormone in an elbow surgery that may have saved New York Yankees starter Bartolo Colon’s career.


After a New York Times report that Purita has used HGH in similar procedures, Major League Baseball launched an investigation.


“There is no smoking gun,” Purita told ESPNNewYork.com. “I have no qualms talking to anyone. I will take a lie detector test.”


On Thursday afternoon, ESPN New York reached the previously unidentified second doctor on the surgery that took place in the Dominican in April 2010.


Dr. Leonel Liriano said not only would he be willing to share the medical records from the procedure with MLB investigators, but he has video that shows the whole process.


“Tell the major league office, they can come down here, no problem,” Dr. Liriano told ESPNNewYork.com. Colon had the surgery at Clinca Union Medica in Santiago.


Earlier Thursday, Purita, an orthopedic surgeon based in Boca Raton, Fla., said he has used HGH on a lay person but would never utilize it with a professional athlete. Purita said he is ready to cooperate if contacted by MLB.


Colon, his agent, Mitch Frankel, Purita and Liriano have yet to hear from baseball’s investigators. If investigators prove HGH was used, Colon could be suspended.


At this point, that seems unlikely. MLB began its investigation when The Times contacted it about the story, which first appeared online Wednesday night, and no evidence has emerged to contradict Purita’s claim.


Purita treated Colon in April 2010 with a technique that used Colon’s own fat and bone marrow stem cells on Colon’s elbow and shoulder. Purita said HGH was not used.


“There is nothing to hide,” Frankel said via phone Thursday morning. “Bartolo has nothing to hide.”


Liriano added, “We have the records.”


Frankel said he understood why baseball had to do its due diligence.


The procedure was done in the Dominican Republic and there was no charge. Purita said he did it this way because he was working with a medical company called Harvest Technologies, which is based in Massachusetts.


Purita said he believes HGH can help recovery, but he says he stands with the major sports leagues in banning it for athletes.


“There is too much potential for abuse,” Purita said.


Colon, after not pitching all of last year, has been a savior for the Yankees this season. With Phil Hughes on the disabled list with a mysterious arm ailment, Colon has moved into the rotation. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA, and is scheduled to start Friday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.


Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he has “no reaction” to the story and said the Yankees contacted MLB after they became aware of the procedure.


Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.