Biogenesis baseball scandal

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The Biogenesis baseball scandal broke in 2013 when several Major League Baseball (MLB) players were accused of obtaining performance-enhancing drugs ("PEDs"), specifically human growth hormone, from the now-defunct rejuvenation clinic Biogenesis of America.[1] After an ex-employee annoyed over missing back-pay revealed clinic records that were "clear in describing the firm's real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs",[2][3] MLB sued six people connected to Biogenesis, accusing them of damaging the sport by providing banned substances to its players.[3] In July, thirteen involved players received lengthy suspensions of fifty or more games (nearly a third of a season).

Clinic history[edit]

Biogenesis of America was a health clinic briefly operating in Coral Gables, Florida, specializing in weight loss and hormone replacement therapy.[4] It was first registered in state corporation records in March 2012,[5] and was founded by Anthony Bosch (also listed as the program director).[5][6] His father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, was listed as the medical director, and Bosch's younger brother, attorney Ashley Bosch, was listed as managing member.[5] Porter Fischer was listed as marketing director.[7] Several employees quit in the fall of 2012 after they were not paid,[5] and the clinic closed months later in December 2012.[3]

Accusations and investigation[edit]

On January 22, 2013, the Miami New Times obtained documents from former Biogenesis employee Porter Fisher which it said linked three players – Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colón and Yasmani Grandal – who had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2012 to the clinic. Additionally, the paper said several star players including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Nelson Cruz could be tied to the clinic. The paper, however, refused to hand the documents over to Major League Baseball (MLB) authorities.[8]

The Florida Department of Health, and MLB, both targeted the clinic's owner, Anthony Bosch, each separately taking action against him.

In March, MLB sued Bosch, and his business partners, Carlos Acevedo, Ricardo Martinez, Marcelo Albir, and Paulo da Silveira in an attempt to obtain information. The suit alleged that the six had "actively participated in a scheme ... to solicit or induce Major League players to purchase or obtain PES (performing-enhancing substances)".[8] Subsequently, the MLB claimed to have found evidence that a representative of Rodriguez had purchased his medical records. It then paid a former Biogenesis employee for documents.[8]

In April, Bosch received a complaint from the Florida Department of Health for practicing medicine without a license. The complaint urged him to sign a cease and desist agreement.

In May, Bosch agreed to work with MLB investigators in exchange for his name being removed from the lawsuit.[8] MLB conducted a large number of interviews with players it believed may be connected with Biogenesis in June. Every player interviewed was supplied legal counsel by the Major League Baseball Players Association.[8]

In August, Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, announced that Bosch intended to plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to distribute testosterone.[9]

Player suspensions[edit]

On July 22, 2013, MLB suspended Milwaukee Brewers player Ryan Braun for the remainder of the 2013 season (65 games and the postseason) for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic. Braun, who lost $3.25 million as a result, did not appeal the suspension. ESPN reported that Braun decided to "strike a deal" with MLB after being presented with the evidence against him.[10] Braun had previously tested positive for testosterone in December 2011, but maintained his innocence and ultimately avoided suspension for that violation on a technicality that his test sample had been improperly handled.[11]

On August 5, 2013, Alex Rodriguez was suspended through the 2014 season (211 games at the time of the decision), but was allowed to play in 2013 pending his appeal of that decision. An arbitrator later upheld the suspension in January 2014, after being allowed to play in the 49 games between the decision and the hearing, technically reducing the suspension to 162 games, representing the entire 2014 regular season and postseason. Twelve other players connected to the Biogenesis case agreed to 50-game suspensions without the right to appeal: Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Nelson Cruz, Fautino de los Santos, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Martínez, Jesús Montero, Jordan Norberto, Jhonny Peralta, César Puello, and Jordany Valdespin. Cabrera, Cruz, and Peralta were All-Stars in 2013.[12] Rodriguez, who received the longest suspension of all the players linked to Biogenesis, was punished for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years" and "for his attempts to cover up those violations and obstruct a league investigation", according to MLB.[8] The 13 player suspensions are the most to be imposed simultaneously in the history of organized baseball, the previous record being Kenesaw Mountain Landis' banning of eight players for life for throwing the 1919 World Series.[8]

Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colón, and Yasmani Grandal each had previously been suspended in 2012 and served 50-game suspensions and another suspension would have been double jeopardy.[8] Two players mentioned in Biogenesis documents, Gio Gonzalez and Danny Valencia, were cleared of any wrongdoing.[12]

List of suspensions[edit]

Alex Rodriguez
NameTeamPositionLengthNotes
Rodriguez, AlexAlex RodriguezNew York YankeesThird baseman162 gamesOriginal suspension was from the date of decision until end of the 2014 season (balance of 2013 season, 49 games at the time of the original decision, and the 2014 season for a total of 211 games). Suspension was appealed during the 2013 season, and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz upheld the suspension for the entire 2014 season including playoffs. Under a new 2014 MLB rule regarding suspensions for drugs, all suspensions include playoffs.
Braun, RyanRyan BraunMilwaukee BrewersOutfielder65 gamesSuspension includes violations of the CBA
Cruz, NelsonNelson CruzTexas RangersOutfielder50 games2013 All-Star
Cabrera, EverthEverth CabreraSan Diego PadresShortstop50 games2013 All-Star
Peralta, JhonnyJhonny PeraltaDetroit TigersShortstop50 games2013 All-Star
Bastardo, AntonioAntonio BastardoPhiladelphia PhilliesPitcher50 games
Cervelli, FranciscoFrancisco CervelliNew York YankeesCatcher50 gamesOn disabled list at the time of suspension
Valdespin, JordanyJordany ValdespinNew York MetsOutfielder50 gamesIn the minor leagues at the time of suspension
Montero, JesúsJesús MonteroSeattle MarinersCatcher50 gamesIn the minor leagues at the time of suspension
Puello, CésarCésar PuelloNew York MetsOutfielder50 gamesIn the minor leagues at the time of suspension
Escalona, SergioSergio EscalonaHouston AstrosPitcher50 gamesIn the minor leagues at the time of suspension
Martínez, FernandoFernando MartínezNew York YankeesOutfielder50 gamesIn the minor leagues at the time of suspension
de los Santos, FautinoFautino de los SantosFree agentPitcher50 gamesLast played in San Diego Padres farm system[13]
Norberto, JordanJordan NorbertoFree agentPitcher50 gamesLast played in Oakland Athletics farm system[14]

Appeals[edit]

All of the suspended players, with the exception of Rodriguez, reached agreement with the League on the length of that suspension, and as part of that agreement waived their contractual right to appeal it to an arbitrator.[12] Rodriguez was the only player who appealed his suspension. His appeal was heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who succeeded Shyam Das as baseball's designated arbitrator in 2012.[15][16] Das was removed from his position as baseball's long-time arbitrator as a direct result of his overturning Braun's original 50-game suspension for PEDs.[15][16] Horowitz ruled the original suspension from time of ruling until the end of the 2014 season would stand (though technically reduced from 211 to 162 games since he was allowed to play the 49 games between the ruling and the appeal), leaving Rodriguez's career in limbo.[15]

Rodriguez was allowed to play while his appeal was heard.[12] The Players Association said it agreed with his decision to appeal, adding "We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement."[12]

Reactions[edit]

MLB commissioner Bud Selig remarked "We conducted a thorough, aggressive investigation guided by facts so that we could justly enforce our rules ... we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do."[8]

The other players involved all agreed to deals that included a waiver of the right to appeal.[12] Cruz blamed a gastrointestinal infection for his drug use and remarked that faced with the weight loss from the infection he was unsure he would be physically able to play and "made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error."[8] An emotional Cabrera said he had taken a banned substance for four days in 2012 to aid in injury recovering before stopping because "I realized it wasn't necessary. My heart and my conscience was killing me."[12] Peralta remarked "I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension."[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schmidt, Michael S.; Eder, Steve (April 11, 2013). "Baseball Pays for Clinic Documents Tied to Doping Case". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ Elfrink, Tim (June 18, 2013). "MLB Steroid Scandal: How Porter Fischer Exposed the Coral Gables Clinic". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on June 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Elfrink, Tim (January 31, 2013). "A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Colon arrives to A's camp, doesn't address media". USA Today. February 11, 2013. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d Fish, Mike; Quinn, T. J. (January 28, 2013). "MLB investigating region in PED war". ESPN. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ Quinn, T. J.; Gomez, Pedro; Fish, Mike (June 4, 2013). "MLB seeks to suspend A-Rod, Braun". ESPN. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Crony: Bosch met A-Rod at ALCS". ESPN. June 19, 2013. Archived from the original on June 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players suspended in Biogenesis PEDs scandal". The Guardian. August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  9. ^ Lacques, Gabe (5 August 2014). "Tony Bosch to plead guilty; 9 others charged in PED bust". USA Today. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ryan Braun suspended rest of year". ESPN. July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  11. ^ Belson, Ken; Schmidt, Michael S. (February 23, 2012). "Braun Wins Appeal on Positive Drug Test and Avoids Suspension". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "MLB suspends 13, including A-Rod". ESPN. August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  13. ^ MiLB.com
  14. ^ BaseballReference.com
  15. ^ a b c "Expect Arbitrator To Reduce Alex Rodriguez's Suspension To 150 Games Or Less". Forbes. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2013-08-09. 
  16. ^ a b "Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to decide Alex Rodriguez's fate". Newsday.com. 2013-08-05. Retrieved 2013-08-09.