The Miami New Times opened up a huge new chapter in baseball's battle with performance enhancing drugs exposing a massive BALCO-like drug lab that linked many high-profile players to performance-enhancing drugs. The report indicates that Biogenesis, a lab run by Anthony Bosch, supplied players with various performance enhancing substances. Among those on the list include the highest-paid player in baseball history Alex Rodriguez, and former Phillies prospect and Washington Nationals startingn pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
This report contains very little speculation. The author of the piece, Tim Elfrink, did not name anyone unless he had hard evidence to support what he was saying, presumably to avoid any doubt or any legal action for exposing the names. The newspaper published extensive proof on their website. The baseball player names specificially mentioned were the following:
- Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
- Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
- Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics
- Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres
- Manny Ramirez, free agent
- Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
- Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
The first five are not too much of a surprise; they have either admitted to use or been suspended for use of drugs in the past. But this is the first mention for Cruz or Gonzalez. The report maintains that they have other names in their possession but choose to release only these because they have substantial proof.
To be fair, Gonzalez, the former Phillies prospect traded to the White Sox towards starter Freddy Garcia in 2007, has the least dirt of the names on the list. What they have on Gonzalez is a $1000.00 check written out to Biogenesis and frequent visits to the clinic by Gonzalez's father, Max Gonzalez. Max Gonzalez claims he was simply out to lose weight:
I went to Tony because I needed to lose weight. A friend recommended him, and he did great work for me. But that's it. He never met my son. Never.
Never meeting Gonzalez does not mean that he did not benefit from the clinic. Could he have bought legal supplements from the clinic? Possibly. The evidence is a handwritten note from owner Bosch that read,
Order 1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC/... and Aminorip. For Gio and charge $1,000.
Aminorip is not a banned substance in Major League Baseball. The product's website boasts,
Endurance and body-building athletes require significant quantities of protein to build muscle. AminoRip® provides 100% pure collagen protein in a 1 ounce serving without unnecessary fillers. Since the 15 grams of protein are immediately available upon ingestion, AminoRip® can be taken directly before and after a workout without leaving you feeling full or bloated.
One bottle of Aminorip costs $28.00. That is some mark-up. But Gonzalez himself would seem to indicate that he never even bought legal products from Bosch.
Gonzalez tweeted a response almost immediately after the news broke. He likely knew sooner, since Major League Baseball and teams were notified before the report.
Gonzalez loses a little credibility here; his father admitted a connection to Bosch and the lab and there is evidence that there was a transaction involving him. Gonzalez will have a hard time shaking this connection, particularly since three of the players named - Cabrera, Grandal, and Colon - were suspended by Major League Baseball in 2012 after positive drug tests.
As for Alex Rodriguez, the newspaper has extensive evidence on him. And, the New York Yankees are furious. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, they hope to relieve themselves of Rodriguez after this mess:
Privately, the Yankees are thrilled with this latest mess. For if the allegations first made yesterday in the Miami New Times that detail Rodriguez purchasing banned performance enhancers from 2009-12 turn out to be accurate — or worse — then a portal has been opened for the Yankees to accomplish a goal as large as winning the 2013 World Series because of what it means to their present and near future: Severing ties with Rodriguez and saving as much of the $114 million they owe him over the next five years as possible.
The Miami native Rodriguez admitted to previous steroid use in 2009, but has regularly insisted that he has not used any type of illegal drugs since 2003. The new report links Rodriguez to such substances as recently as 2012.
As one would expect, Rodriguez issued a (sorta) denial, as passed on by Sherman:
The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was eated 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.
"Never treated by" Bosch does not deny that he never received anything that came from that lab. How Major League Baseball treats this will surely be interesting. It would be unprecedented for baseball to void a major league contract; the drug use would simply be subject to the drug policy in MLB.
Nelson Cruz has not said anything as of yet. Stay tuned.
One thing is very clear: whatever boundaries exist in life, people will test them. Some will go too far. That is what it means to be human.