Major League Baseball found a thread, tugged, and unraveled as many as 20 players who are reportedly facing heavy suspensions with ties to a now-defunct Miami-based clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and injured New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are the two biggest names linked to Biogenesis of America, and MLB is seeking a 100-game suspension for both, according to a report by ESPN.
The league adopted a three-strike policy for players who test positive for PEDs, with the first offense costing a player 50 games, and a second offense 100 games.
Rodriguez and Braun, according to ESPN’s sources, made previous denials to the league about PEDs and about any links to Biogenesis, and MLB will now seek 100-game suspensions counting the apparent lies as two offenses.
A third offense, under the current penalty system, would result in a lifetime ban.
In January, MLB and the player’s union came to an agreement to expand its drug testing program, including blood testing for human growth hormone during the season. However the expansion is scheduled to start next season.
Several players who have already been caught and served 50 game suspensions now face a second accusation, and could face a similar fate and loss of millions of dollars like Braun and Rodriguez. Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon, and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal have failed drug tests before and received 50-game suspensions already. A 100-game suspension could be on the horizon for all three players.
The clinic was founded and run by a man named Tony Bosch who agreed to work with MLB’s investigators after making several denials for months and also reportedly spoke to ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
Bosch reportedly handed over documents that linked 20 players to PEDs, and the league could levy suspensions over the next few weeks. Bosch will meet with MLB on Friday, and will provide them with a detailed statement of what he knows.
Other players involved include Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, and minor leaguers Jesus Montero of the Seattle Mariners, and Cesar Puello of the New York Mets. Puello has never made an appearance in the majors, and thus is not a member of the player’s union.
Braun faced accusations of PED use and failed a test last year, though an arbitrator ruled that his sample had been tainted and the league was reportedly incensed that the five-time all-star and 2011 NL MVP didn’t serve a suspension.
Earlier this year, Rodriguez denied PED use after a story in the Miami New Times stated it had handwritten documents from Bosch that implicated the three-time MVP.
The 37-year-old Rodriguez’s name was also leaked from a government survey of players who tested positive for PEDs in a story by Sports Illustrated in 2009. That alleged use took place in 2003 when Rodriguez hit 47 homeruns and 118 RBIs, winning the AL MVP with Texas.
Another tie to PEDs could greatly affect Rodriguez’s status with the Yankees, and several reports suggested the club was already trying to find a way to void the remaining $114 million on his contract. He is currently recovering from hip surgery, and his return to the field is uncertain.