Major League Baseball on Wednesday accused Los Angeles Dodgers star Justin Turner of "emphatically" ignoring safety protocols by celebrating his team's World Series victory despite testing positive for Covid-19.
In a sternly worded statement, the league said Turner now faced an investigation into his behavior following Tuesday's World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington, Texas.
The Dodgers third baseman was dramatically withdrawn from the game in the eighth inning after authorities learned he had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the day.
However, despite being told to immediately isolate from the rest of the Dodgers dugout, Turner later joined players on the field to celebrate the franchise's first World Series victory since 1988.
"Upon receiving notice from the laboratory of a positive test, protocols were triggered leading to the removal of Justin Turner from last night's game," a league statement said.
"Turner was placed into isolation for the safety of those around him. However, following the Dodgers victory, it is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols ...
"While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner's decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.
"The Commissioner's Office is beginning a full investigation into this matter and will consult with the Players' Association within the parameters of the joint 2020 Operations manual."
Major League Baseball said the Dodgers were tested late Tuesday and again on Wednesday with the Rays. Travel back to their home cities will be determined by "appropriate authorities," the league said.
- No symptoms -
Turner did not enter the field at the moment of the Dodgers' victory, but appeared later for a team photo. He removed a facemask and sat alongside Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Later, Turner was seen on the field clutching the World Series Commissioner's Trophy and kissing his wife.
In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, Turner later said he showed no symptoms of the disease.
"I feel great, no symptoms at all," Turner said. "Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can't believe I couldn't be out there to celebrate with my guys!"
US reports on Wednesday said the drama unfolded after the laboratory responsible for processing players' coronavirus tests discovered -- after game six was under way -- that a sample provided by Turner earlier in the day was inconclusive.
Analysis of a second sample was expedited, returning a positive case that was discovered late in the game, prompting Turner's withdrawal from the field.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged afterwards that Turner's appearance on the field might not have been "good optics."
"Justin wanted to come out and take a picture with the trophy, and did," Friedman said. "With or without that, a lot of people he interacted with would be in the contact tracing web."
Turner's teammates, meanwhile, had been perplexed by his inability to fully celebrate the win.
"To take it away from him is gut-wrenching," Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said. "That man more than anybody deserves to take a picture with the trophy. Have his famly around, enjoy this moment."
The final weeks of the MLB post-season had taken place with teams based in protective "bubbles" in California and Texas in order to ward off the threat of coronavirus.
Turner's case was the first since teams entered their respective bubbles at the end of a regular season shortened to 60 games following disruption caused by Covid-19.