In an article first reported by Michael Schmidt and Steve Eder of the New York Times, Major League Baseball has taken a new approach to Performance Enhancing Drug use in America’s pastime. The MLB front office has reportedly purchased documentation related to Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in South Florida. It is also being reported that at least one MLB player connected to Biogenesis has attempted to purchase documentation from the anti-aging clinic. According to the report the rational for the MLB purchase of documentation is the lack of subpoena power. If MLB does not purchase the documentation or a player gets to the documentation before MLB then there would be a lack of evidence in any attempt to leverage proper punishment to a player for Performance Enhancing Drug use or capture a complete understanding of the facts surrounding the apparent “East Coast BALCO.”
On January 30th I wrote about the implications of Biogenesis probe and its effect on Alex Rodriguez. It appears the speculation from over two months ago has boiled hot and fast with MLB paying for documents related to the clinic. The original names released in the January piece from the Miami New Times cited numerous high profile MLB players with ties to Biogenesis. The list included stars Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon amongst others. In a separate report by TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN, Ryan Braun’s names is also attached the anti-aging clinic.
To no surprise many of these players have declined the reports claiming they are false. In January Alex Rodriguez released the following statement through a spokesman:
“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true,” said a statement released by Sitrick & Company, Rodriguez’s publicist. “Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate.”
It appears MLB is not willing to take these denials at face value. MLB must feel there is reason to reportedly warrant paying untold dollars for documents. If they believed players and there was no suspicion of guilt then the monetary purchases would not be occurring. In fact, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN, sources close to the MLB investigation have said Alex Rodriguez paid a former clinic employee to make the problem go away. They also state that there is currently no physical evidence to tie A-Rod to the payments but the investigators believe the information to be credible.
Whether the anti-aging clinic did in fact provide Performance Enhancing Drugs to players is still unknown pending an investigation. But there is already perceived damage that will hurt the players being accused of activity with Biogenesis as well as any other athlete that may have crossed the South Florida clinics path. Of the names mentioned in the original pieces by the Miami New Times and ESPN, many are linked to Performance Enhancing Drug use.
Last season Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera were caught violating the league’s substance abuse policy and each was suspended for 50 games. Alex Rodriguez has previously confessed to using PEDs in the past citing pressure from the record contract he signed with the Texas Rangers. Ryan Braun had been suspended by MLB for PED use only to have it overturned on appeal. I talked about the Braun appeal in the past as well. Is it a coincidence that these players with ties to the South Florida anti-aging clinic have previous connections with PED usage?
So what does all of this mean? Is this the story of the day that will fade away? Things seem to be different this time around. MLB has broken new ground in an attempt to rid America’s pastime of PED use. MLB has also filed a lawsuit in Florida against multiple people connected with Biogenesis accusing the defendants of damaging baseball through the delivery of PEDs to MLB players. The league appears resolute to get to the bottom of this case and levy the proper punishment to each player found to be guilty of PED use. In the past, MLB has grown frustrated with their inability to garner documentation used by the federal government or other agencies in their pursuit of PED using players. With the current story unfolding MLB is making an attempt to rid the sport of these issues even if it comes at a monetary cost. One concern in any legal action is the payment to individuals for documentation. Would this damage the credibility of anyone that might become a witness since they profited from assisting MLB? It is by no means illegal but it would not be the first time a level of perceived monetary gain influenced the opinion of a witness or whistleblower.
Without question we have not heard the end of this story and as the facts are released, court cases progress and issues are resolved we will all learn more about who did and who did not get an assist from Biogenesis. Will MLB ever rid baseball of PED use? Of course not. But at least they appear to be taking a more serious stance than the other major sports in an attempt to clean up the sport for the youth of today and tomorrow while preserving the hallowed numbers of baseballs past.