In an effort to obtain documents and evidence that could be used to build a case against players allegedly connected to a South Florida clinic that reportedly provided performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball on Friday sued Biogenesis, its former chief, associates, a former employee of agency ACES and a former college teammate of Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun.
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who was named in records from the clinic cited by the Miami New Times in a January report, has vehemently denied visiting the now-defunct Coral Gables anti-aging clinic, knowing its chief, Anthony Bosch, or using PEDs. Gonzalez was among a handful of players, including Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera, linked to the clinic.
No current major leaguers, including Gonzalez, were named in the complaint filed Friday morning in Miami.
While unclear if MLB’s legal maneuver will work, it’s the latest, and most creative, attempt by the league to push ahead with its investigation of the clinic, linked players and ACES, which represents Gonzalez and several other players named in the report. In the discovery and exchange of documents of a case, MLB could obtain documents needed to dispense 50-game suspensions. The New York Times on Thursday night first reported MLB’s intentions and the plans to file the lawsuit.
MLB doesn’t have subpoena power and has leaned on federal officials in the past to help with investigations of drug use in the sport. League officials also don’t need a positive drug test to hand major league players a 50-game suspension, and if enough evidence is gathered to convince an arbitrator that a player used or possessed a banned substance, punishment can be doled out.
MLB states in the complaint that the league suffered “substantial damages” by the defendants including “costs of the investigation, loss of goodwill, loss of revenue and profits and injury to its reputation, image, strategic advantage and fan relationships.” According to the complaint, the defendants caused “intentional and unjustified tortious interference” with the contracts between MLB and the players’ association.
While MLB’s complaint cites these as reasons for the lawsuit, it’s could be hard to prove in court and seems logical that officials are seeking documents related to Biogenesis. The New Times recently declined not to honor MLB’s request and hand over documents from the clinic used in its report.
The named defendants, according to the complaint, solicited major leaguers to buy and obtain PEDs despite knowing they were prohibited from using the substances, and tried concealing the identities of the players.
A message left Friday for Bosch’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
Braun, who had a positive drug test overturned last year because of a chain of custody issue, was linked to Biogenesis by Yahoo Sports! and is said to be a main target of the investigation along with Rodriguez. Marcelo Albir, who played with Braun at the University of Miami, was listed among the defendants and, according to the complaint, allegedly was involved in the distribution of banned substances to major leaguers. According to several media reports, Detroit Tigers minor leaguer Cesar Carrillo, also a teammate of Albir and Braun, was suspended 100 games for his connection to Biogenesis and lack of cooperation in the investigation. Braun has said his attorneys used Bosch as a consultant during his appeals process and has “nothing to hide.”
Two days after the New Times report surfaced on Jan. 29, Gonzalez was drug tested and, according to him, passed it. A late February ESPN report, citing two sources, reported that Gonzalez had not purchased PEDs from the clinic. Citing a document, ESPN reported that Gonzalez had paid $1,000 for dietary supplements of questionable efficacy. Gonzalez’s father, Max, told the New Times in its original report that he bought supplements from Biogenesis.
Thought this seems to back Gonzalez’s claims of innocence, MLB officials are still investigating Gonzalez’s involvement along with the other players named in the Biogenesis records. League officials still view his status in the investigation the same as the other linked players.
Internally, the Nationals still feel confident that Gonzalez will avoid a 50-game suspension.