Major League Baseball may suspend a number of players, including marquee names like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, over the next few weeks for their ties to a Miami-based supplement clinic that has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
According to a report on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Tony Bosch, founder of Biogenesis of America, an anti-aging clinic that is currently shut down, agreed to cooperate with MLB's investigation into whether the clinic supplied a number of players with banned substances. According to ESPN, in exchange for Bosch's cooperation, MLB plans to drop the lawsuit it filed against him in March, provide personal security for him and help him with any other charges brought against him by law enforcement agencies.
Major League Baseball had been investigating Bosch since 2012, when three players with ties to Bosch were suspended for elevated testosterone levels. Over the past few months, several news outlets obtained documents that allegedly tie a number of MLB players to Biogenesis and Bosch. The players were listed under pseudonyms or nicknames in records the company kept that tracked what substances – human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids – each player was given.
Braun, a Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won the 2011 National League MVP, was given a 50-game suspension in October 2011 after failing a drug test, but the suspension was overturned by an arbitrator after Braun challenged the method in which his urine sample was handled. Braun's name appears on documents kept by Biogenesis and ESPN says Bosch is expected to tell MLB he provided drugs to Braun.
Braun issued a statement about the report Tuesday after the Brewers' game against the Oakland Athletics.
"The truth has not changed. I don't know the specifics of the story that came out [Tuesday], but I've already addressed it, I've already commented on it, and I'll say nothing further about it," Braun told MLB.com.
Rodriguez, the New York Yankees' injured third baseman, has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in the past, telling ESPN in 2009 that he used drugs during his time with the Texas Rangers, a period in which he won the American League's MVP award.
"I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful," he told ESPN.
Players besides Braun and Rodriguez that might face discipline include Everth Cabrera, Melky Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal, Fernando Martinez, Jesus Montero, Jordan Norberto, Jhonny Peralta and minor-leaguer Cesar Puello.
The ESPN report says Gonzalez could be exonerated because the Washington Nationals pitcher purchased substances from Bosch that are not banned by MLB.
Melky Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were each suspended last season for 50 games after they tested positive for elevated testosterone levels.
"I don't know anything about [the report]," Cabrera told USA Today. "This is the first I hear of it. If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it's up to them."
ESPN also says the MLB could look into New York Yankees' second baseman Robinson Cano for possible connections to Bosch's clinic. The spokeswoman for Cano's foundation, Sonia Cruz, was listed in Biogenesis documents and MLB officials are looking into whether she might have been a conduit for Cano.
The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement Wednesday, saying it has been working with MLB throughout the course of its investigation into Biogenesis.
"The Players Association has every interest in both defending the rights of players and in defending the integrity of our joint program. We trust that the Commissioner's Office shares these interests," MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said in a release.
Dr. Gary Wadler, an associate professor of medicine at Hofstra University Medical School and a former official with the World Anti-Doping Association, called the possible suspensions "distressing" and "not terribly surprising."