Major League Baseball is reportedly preparing to seek suspensions for Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and more than a dozen other big leaguers connected to a now-closed Miami-area medical clinic.
The names of Braun, Rodriguez and the others turned up during MLB's investigation into Biogenesis of America, which allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs. Tony Bosch, the company's founder, has been under investigation by the Florida Department of Health, and this week he agreed to cooperate with MLB, ESPN.com reported.
MLB investigators had obtained the names of some 20 major league players connected to the clinic by phone records and other documents. But Bosch's cooperation was considered key to making any suspension stick.
The commissioner's office could seek 100-game suspensions for Braun and Rodriguez, according to the ESPN report, which is the penalty for a second doping offense.
Any major league player who is suspended has the right to appeal to an arbitrator.
If a 100-game suspension is sought, it could be because MLB considers the player’s connection to Bosch one offense and previous statements denying the use of PEDs or a connection to Bosch a second offense.
There is precedent for a double penalty, but not on the major league level. Minor leaguer Cesar Carillo, a close friend of Braun’s, was recently suspended in such a manner. Minor league players are not represented by the players union and don't have rights to arbitration.
Neither Braun nor Rodriguez has been suspended for doping, though Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone during the 2011 postseason. His suspension was overturned by an arbitrator who found that there were chain-of-custody issues with the urine sample that was tested.
Braun, MVP of the National League in 2011, has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez, a three-time MVP in the American League, has admitted to using steroids from 2001-03 but denied using PEDs after that.
Both men played baseball in Miami before entering professional baseball -- Rodriguez in high school and Braun at the University of Miami.
The names of more than two dozen players have been publicly linked to Biogenesis, and USA Today recently reported that at least 90 players are named in Bosch's logbooks.
Braun's name appears on two documents. He has explained that by saying he hired Bosch to work as a consultant on his successful appeal.
Bosch reportedly first drew MLB's attention when Manny Ramirez, then with the Dodgers, tested positive for testosterone. During its investigation, MLB discovered a prescription written by Bosch's father, Pedro, for a different banned substance.
Then, last summer, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal -- all players with Miami connections -- tested positive for testosterone; each received a 50-game suspension.
Among those who could face discipline from MLB, ESPN identified the following players: Braun; Rodriguez; Cabrera, now with the Toronto Blue Jays; Colon, an Oakland Athletics pitcher; Grandal, a catcher with the San Diego Padres; Nelson Cruz, a Texas Rangers outfielder; Francisco Cervelli, a New York Yankees catcher; Jesus Montero, a Seattle Mariners catcher; Jhonny Peralta, a shortstop for the Detroit Tigers; Cesar Puello, a New York Mets minor leaguer; Fernando Martinez, a Houston Astros outfielder; Everth Cabrera, a Padres shortstop; and Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto, both former A's pitchers.
[Updated 6:48 p.m., June 4: MLB declined comment on the ESPN report, citing the ongoing investigation.]
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