Updated with statement from Gonzalez, 3:40 p.m.
Major League Baseball announced Monday sweeping and unprecedented 50-game suspensions for 12 players for drug violations. And despite being originally linked to the South Florida clinic that allegedly supplied the performance-enhancing substances, Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was not among the disciplined players. The Nationals and the players’ union had privately been confident that Gonzalez would not be disciplined.
MLB’s investigation found “no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program” by Gonzalez.
“I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name,” Gonzalez said in a statement released by the Nationals. “With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game. This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my teammates, the Lerner Family, Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere.”
In the sport’s largest crackdown on drug use, MLB announced the suspensions after an aggressive investigation into Biogenesis, the now-defunct Coral Gables clinic that provided PEDs to players, and clinic chief Anthony Bosch. A January report by the Miami New Times originally tied Gonzalez, among other players, such as Alex Rodriguez, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz, to Biogenesis.
Ryan Braun was later linked to the clinic by a Yahoo! Sports report and two weeks ago he accepted a 65-game suspension for drug violations. Rodriguez has been banned through the 2014 season and is expected to appeal his penalty, and his suspension was announced in a separate MLB statement.
The other suspended players announced Monday have accepted MLB’s discipline and won’t appeal. Without positive drug tests, MLB investigators gathered evidence to build a case against players, including reported cooperation from Bosch and an associate.
Gonzalez and Danny Valencia of the Baltimore Orioles were the only players found to have committed no violations. Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays, Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics and Yasmani Grandal of the San Diego Padres, who already served 50-game suspensions for positive drug tests, also avoided further discipline.
“As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, Baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.”
Gonzalez, 27, a two-time all-star, is a Miami native and represented by ACES, the agency that has come under fire from MLB for having a handful of its clients tied to Biogenesis. Gonzalez’s clearing is welcome news for the Nationals, who are battling for a playoff spot and whose starting rotation has been depleted by injuries and uneven performances. The left-hander has a 7-4 record and 3.57 ERA over 133 2/3 innings for the Nationals this season, his second in Washington.
Gonzalez was first tied to the clinic and to various substances, including “Zinc/MIC/…and Aminorip” and a testosterone-laden “pink cream,” by the New Times report. Gonzalez, however, has forcefully maintained that he didn’t have any contact with Bosch nor the clinic. He also said he wasn’t a patient of the clinic and has never used performance-enhancing drugs. According to Gonzalez, his father, Max, was in fact the client of Biogenesis, for weight-loss medicine.
When he first addressed the allegations in early February when he reported to spring training, Gonzalez said he was “shocked” by the New Times report and the only reason for his name to appear in Bosch’s records would be his braggadocios dad. Gonzalez has never failed a drug test.
“At the end of the day, I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will,” Gonzalez said on Feb. 12 in Viera.
The head of the MLB Players Association, Michael Weiner, had also publicly thrown his support behind Gonzalez. Weiner told The Post in April he was “confident that Gio shouldn’t face any discipline based on what he might say” in an interview with MLB investigators. Union officials believed Gonzalez’s case was different to other linked players.