AP FILE PHOTO
New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez takes batting practice before Game 4 of the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers, in Detroit.
An anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., that had been under the scrutiny of Major League Baseball for several months has now been cited in a published report as a supplier of performance-enhancing drugs to a half-dozen players, including the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.
Miami New Times, in a report released Tuesday, said that an unidentified former employee of the clinic, Biogenesis of America, which is now closed, had provided it with medical records from the facility that tie Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Yasmani Grandal to the use of performance-enhancers.
The newspaper accompanied the online article with copies of what it said were handwritten notations from the clinic that list various drugs allegedly distributed to its clients.
Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were suspended in the past year by baseball for positive drug tests. Gonzalez and Cruz have not previously been linked to the use of performance-enhancers. Rodriguez, who is now recovering from hip surgery, has admitted to using performance-enhancers from 2001 to 2003, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers.
In a statement several hours after the report emerged, Rodriguez denied that he had any relationship with the director of the clinic, Anthony Bosch, or that he was ever treated by him.
The statement, issued through a public relations firm, said: “The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Bosch’s patient, he was never treated 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.”
Gonzalez also issued a denial, through Twitter, stating: “I’ve never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will. I’ve never met or spoke with Tony Bosch or used any substance.”
The Yankees, meanwhile, said they fully supported baseball’s drug program and that they would have no further comment until an investigation by the commissioner’s office had concluded.
Although Rodriguez has denied using performance enhancers after 2003, investigators for Major League Baseball have questioned him several times in recent years about possible drug links and in each instance he has maintained his stance. According to two people in baseball, the investigators now plan to question him again, along with the others cited in the Miami New Times report.
Until now, Major League Baseball did not have any documents that linked players using the clinic to performance-enhancers. The investigators, the two people said, will now seek to obtain the records cited by Miami New Times and authenticate them in the hopes of using them as evidence to discipline the players.
Unlike the federal government, baseball’s investigators do not have the power to subpoena documents to compel witnesses to talk to them. They hope to talk to Bosch but have not yet attempted to do so. Their hope is that federal investigators of the clinic, will be able to obtain records and testimony that will ultimately help baseball determine what disciplinary measures may be called for.
Baseball first became aware of the clinic in 2009 when its investigators uncovered evidence that the slugger Manny Ramirez had received a banned drug from the facility. Ramirez was ultimately suspended 50 games for that infraction.
Last summer, the investigators began to take another look at the clinic as they investigated Cabrera after he tested positive. In the course of that investigation they uncovered evidence that an employee for Cabrera’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, had hatched a cover-up scheme to deceive a baseball arbitrator and have the suspension for the positive drug test thrown out.
Baseball officials were angered by the attempt to subvert their drug-testing program and began their own investigation of the employee, Juan Nunez, and the Levinsons. In doing so, the two people said, they uncovered the links between players and the clinic. The officials did not believe that Nunez acted alone and asked the players union, which certifies player agents, to conduct its own investigation.
According to one baseball official, six of the players the commissioner’s office believes were treated by the clinic are clients of the Levinsons.
Rodriguez is not, but the 37-year-old third baseman will undoubtedly become the focal point of the case. He is not expected to return to action from his surgery until July, when he will turn 38. He has become increasingly brittle midway through a 10-year, $275 million contract that has become a burden to the Yankees, and his link to the medical records, if true, will only raise more questions about his future.
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