CPBL Foreign Players Updates Volume #299

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CTBC Brothers News: Emilio Vargas

On October 4, the CPBL issued a permanent ban on CTBC Brothers’ foreign pitcher Emilio Vargas for drug violations under the league’s Prohibited Substance Testing Procedures and Penalties Act.

Shortly after, the CTBC Brothers released a press statement stating that the team had terminated the contract with Emilio Vargas in accordance with the league’s zero-tolerance policy and contractual regulations.

According to the league, on September 4, a routine random drug test conducted back in August revealed that Emilio Vargas had met the WADA testing standards in all aspects, but there was a minor anomaly detected in the THC category.

As a result, the league arranged another drug test on Emilio Vargas on September 28, which was carried out by Taiwan’s CMU hospital testing lab. On October 3, the second test result came back still showing a positive in the THC category, exceeding the standards.

In the statement released by the CTBC Brothers organisation, the team did get Emilio Vargas to undergo another test at the hospital. Although the third test result came back negative, as a matter of principle, the team will follow the league’s zero-tolerance policy and terminate Vargas’ contract.

Emilio Vargas, the 26-year-old Dominican right-hander, finished his 2023 CPBL season with a solid 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 67 innings. As of today, the Brothers are now left with Jose De Paula, Eric Stout, and Kyle McGowin as their foreign players.

CPBL’s Prohibited Substance Testing Procedures and Penalties Act

Under Article 8, Section 3 of the CPBL’s Prohibited Substance Testing Procedures and Penalties Act, it is stated that anyone who tests positive for drugs in routine tests conducted by the league, domestic or foreign organisations, or foreign judicial authorities will be permanently banned from employment. The drug classifications are based on government regulations.

In the past, there were a few cases which involved players breaching the CPBL’s Prohibited Substance Act. But it is more related to them not finishing serving their suspension in the MLB system.

  • CTBC Brothers 2017 – Kyle Simon
  • EDA Rhinos 2013 – Runelvys Hernández
  • EDA Rhinos 2023 – Jesús Colomé
  • Lamigo Monkeys 2013 – Francisco Cruceta

Taiwan’s Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act

In Taiwan’s Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, marijuana is classified as a category-2 narcotic alongside the likes of amphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, and psilocybin.

Under Article 10, Section 2, persons convicted of using category-2 narcotics shall be punished with a maximum three-year fixed-term imprisonment.

In the past few years, there have been plenty of social movements organised by civil societies Green Sensation, calling for decriminalising cannabis use in Taiwan. The most recent public march was held in April 2023 in Taipei City.

On the political front, the cannabis issue has been spearheaded by the Green Party Taiwan. But with the Green Party being a minor political party with no seat in the parliament, it isn’t making much waves despite their efforts.

As of today, Thailand is the only country in Asia that legalises marijuana.


  1. Do you think foreign players are warned about marijuana use when they are signed by a CPBL team? This article from 2021 says that use of marijuana is rife in major league basketball, hockey and American football, often as a means of pain managment.


    I think minor league baseball players are tested for marijuana, and players have been suspended for use. In the MLB majors, players are only tested for marijuana “for cause,” which likely means that so long as they don’t arrive at the ballpark stinking of marijuana or don’t get arrested for possession, they can consume it on their own time. Thus, it is likely that many MLB major league players use marijuana on their own time.

    I don’t know what the rules are in the Mexican League out of which Vargas came to the CPBL, but the impression I get is that there isn’t much testing for anything in Mexico.

    • I don’t think they know. But again, I never seen a player’s contract before. But I know for sure, teams will be informing agents about that before signing foreign players. I remember a few years ago, there a KBO foreign player was fired by the team because he bought a bong or some sort of inhaling device to Korea.

      I think it just one of those unfortunate cases of different cultural views on marijuana. And Emilio Vargas got caught in the middle of it. Because it is a bit outdated that Taiwan still treats cannabis as a category 2 drug. They should really decriminalise it in my opinion. But I guess it is one of those thing just have do it step by step.

      This is off top of my head, I think a few years ago, the Taiwanese lawmakers already lowered the maximum jail terms for marijuana possession from 5 years to 1 year. I think the trend is heading to decriminalisation, but it just very slow. I think these days, you will only get into serious trouble if you get busted for distribution.

      • Aaron Brooks was released from the KIA Tigers for the vape pen he had bought online had trace amounts of THC apparently back in 2021

  2. The main thing is that foreign players get some warning before they sign that they may be tested for marijuana. Then the players can make their own decisions and live with the consequences of them.


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