EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke apologized Saturday night for using a banned substance that led to a 10-game suspension from Major League Soccer.
Parke and starting goalie Jon Conway tested positive for androstatriendione and boldenone metabolites after purchasing and using an over-the-counter nutritional supplement from a vitamin store that is part of a national chain, the league said. Conway also was suspended for 10 games.
In a statement issued by the team before its game against Columbus, Parke apologized to his family, teammates, coaches, friends and fans.
"I do take full responsibility for what has happened and realize that I should have made sure by consulting with the appropriate team staff before taking the supplement," Parke said. "Purchasing an over-the-counter product at a nationally recognized retail chain ultimately led me to where I am today. I can only hope that this can be prevented in the future and be a learning experience for all players."
Parke and Conway are the first MLS players to be suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Parke appeared in 24 games this season, and is second on the franchise list with 132 games played.
Conway has not issued any statement since the league announced the suspensions Thursday. Conway, who was in goal for all 28 matches this season, was replaced Saturday night by Danny Cepero.
Coach Juan Carlos Osorio said the Red Bulls were "all in shock" about the suspensions, especially since the team is fighting for a playoff berth with just two games left in the regular season counting Saturday night.
"There is never a good time for this to happen, but it coincides with probably the biggest game of the season, so I am very disappointed," Osorio said. "They both expressed their remorse, they both said this in a very straight manner that they never intended to risk what we are doing as a team. They never intended to hurt anyone and what they did was a genuine mistake."
Osorio said the team has decided to keep both Parke and Conway from the team for the time being.
"We decided that it was best if they are not around for a while," Osorio said. "And then next week, we will monitor the situation and make a decision."
The players cannot play in other competitions during their 10-game ban and each was fined 10 percent of his salary. Conway makes $115,000 this season, and Parke has a base salary of $57,488.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press