By: Rich Bergeron
Major League Baseball is gearing up to suspend at least 20 players for up to 100 games according to recent reports by ESPN regarding a Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed performance enhancing drugs to multiple major leaguers. The now-defunct clinic run by Anthony Bosch is being investigated by MLB officials and could wind up being the target of a federal government probe before the dust settles. Bosch reportedly consulted with attorneys and gathered documents for a sit down last Friday with MLB representatives, though there have not been any reports detailing exactly what he had to offer.
Yankee Alex Rodriguez and Brewer Ryan Braun top the list of players with purported connections to Bosch, but the scandal also implicates additional players with some reportedly referenced in Bosch’s records under code names. Braun also is adamant that he only consulted with Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic for advice regarding a positive drugs test he successfully appealed, which is a claim Bosch himself confirmed.
Bosch apparently decided to cooperate with MLB officials due to bounting debt from legal fees resulting from a tortious interference lawsuit filed against him by the league. Players implicated could sit out for as much as 100 games if they previously gave dishonest answers about using PEDs and Bosch can confirm they were using banned substances.
ESPN reported last week that discussions between Bosch and MLB were put on hold while Bosch’s lawyers spoke to the U.S. Attorney’s office to get a sense of what sort of criminal legal penalties Bosch might face. Before he would agree to a deal, he reportedly sought assurances that MLB could help mitigate any criminal charges that may result.
Major League Baseball became aware of Bosch’s potential link to PEDs in 2009, and officials have had access to a list of 20 names connected to Bosch and Biogenesis for over a month. Recent reports suggest that as many as 25 players could wind up in serious trouble if Bosch can pinpoint exactly what banned substances they used and when.
Bosch’s connection to this growing scandal exploded last summer after Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandall were slapped with 50-game suspensions for testing positive for excessive testosterone levels. ESPN dug into the positive tests and asked MLB officials about a potential connection to Bosch, so MLB launched a full investigation. Minor league player Cesar Carillo also wound up in hot water when he denied having any connection to Bosch or Biogenesis despite being confronted with documented evidence to the contrary. He already received a 100-game suspension, but at the minor league level there is no appeals process. Major leaguers implicated in the scandal will most likely file lengthy appeals and fight any huge suspensions through arbitration, which is why MLB officials have been treating this investigation with special care.
In addition to Bosch, the league’s investigators are also interviewing associates and colleagues of Bosch, other witnesses to the PED program operating through Biogenesis, and players themselves. In this situation a player will not escape punishment by not testing positive for any banned substance. The league would be enforcing a policy that outlaws the mere possession or attempt to possess such substances. Any players who at any point denied connections to Bosch and his clinic could also be ensnared by other records being sought through subpoenas like phone and shipping records.
Players who may face suspensions currently include: Ryan Braun (Brewers), Everth Cabrera (Padres), Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Bartolo Colon (Athletics), Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Fautino de los Santos (Free Agent), Yasmani Grandal (Padres), Fernando Martinez (Astros), Jesus Montero (Mariners), Jordan Norberto (Free Agent), Jhonny Peralta (Tigers), Cesar Puello (Mets), and Alex Rodriguez (Yankees). More names could be added to the list upon corroboration from Bosch and other evidence confirming his confessions.
When the dust settles this could be one of the most widespread PED cases to ever impact major league baseball, and it could have a significant effect on Hall of Fame inductions in the future when these players retire. Unfortunately, any records set by these players while under the influence of banned substances aren’t likely to be erased. One of two outcomes is likely to follow in the wake of the epic player suspensions that will come out of this case: either more players will shy away from using banned substances for fear of being named and shamed, or players who do choose to cheat will become way more careful about who and what they work with to achieve their baseball goals through PED use.