Major League Baseball will seek drug suspensions for about 20 players, including former Most Valuable Players Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, because of their connections to a Miami-area clinic, ESPN reported.
Tony Bosch, founder of the Biogenesis of America LLC clinic accused by MLB of providing players with banned performance-enhancing drugs, reached an agreement this week to cooperate with league investigators, ESPN said, citing two unidentified people familiar with the case.
MLB may seek 100-game suspensions, the penalty for a second doping offense, because the players’ connection to Bosch is one offense and previous statements to league officials denying any such connection or the use of banned substances would be a second offense, ESPN said.
Spokesman Pat Courtney said in an e-mail that MLB had no comment on the ESPN report “as we are in the midst of an active investigation.”
Michael Weiner, executive director for the Major League Baseball Players Association, said the union has been in regular contact with the office of Commissioner Bud Selig regarding the Biogenesis investigation.
“They are in the process of interviewing players and every player has been or will be represented by an attorney from the players association,” Weiner said today in a statement. “The commissioner’s office has assured us that no decisions regarding discipline have been made or will be made until those interviews are completed. It would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged those investigations.”
Biogenesis is being sued by MLB for allegedly helping players obtain banned drugs and damaging the sport’s reputation. Baseball’s suit says the now-shuttered clinic induced players to violate contractual obligations.
The Miami New Times reported in January that it had obtained medical records from Biogenesis linking banned substances to players including the Yankees’ Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers.
Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP, and Cruz have denied the allegations. Rodriguez said in February 2009 that he took banned substances from 2001-03 when he was with the Rangers.
Braun, the National League’s MVP in 2011, said in February that he consulted with Bosch while defending himself against doping charges last year. Braun, 29, a Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, avoided a 50-game drug suspension when he won an appeal against MLB by arguing that his urine test sample had been mishandled.
ESPN reported this year that Rodriguez received injections from Bosch at the player’s Florida home. Rodriguez, 37, said in a statement following the Jan. 29 New Times report that he wasn’t a patient of Bosch and was never treated or advised by him. Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Rodriguez, said Rodriguez had no comment on the most recent report.
Rodriguez, who hasn’t played this season following hip surgery, ranks fifth on the MLB career list with 647 home runs.
“It’s in MLB’s hands,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a televised news conference today. “My focus is not on what MLB is investigating. I don’t want to get caught up in that because they’re going to handle it. Alex is in Tampa getting ready and that’s what we want him to do.”
MLB investigators have had Biogenesis records listing about 20 players for more than a month, ESPN reported, and have been waiting for confirmation from Bosch that the documents are accurate. Bosch is expected to begin meeting with MLB officials within a week and suspensions could come within two weeks, the network said.
Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, both of whom served 50-game drug suspensions last season, also were among the major leaguers cited by the New Times as having connections to the clinic.
Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli released a statement in February saying he consulted with Biogenesis following a foot injury in March 2011 and that “I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by MLB.”
In exchange for his cooperation, ESPN reported, MLB would drop the lawsuit against Bosch and report his help to law-enforcement agencies that might be considering charges against the former clinic operator.
Minor-leaguer Cesar Carrillo was suspended for 100 games in March based on the second-offense rule because officials had Biogenesis documents containing his name and he denied having any connection to Bosch or the clinic, ESPN said. As a minor leaguer, Carrillo wasn’t entitled to the appeals process that would be available to major-league players.
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