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June 5, 2013

Bizball

Suspensions May Loom for Players Connected to Biogenesis Clinic

by Maury Brown


Major League Baseball may seek to suspend as many as 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, as part of the investigation into the Miami-area Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, according to a report by ESPN. The league has been pursuing legal avenues, including a lawsuit against Biogenesis, Biokem, Tony Bosch of Biogenesis, and others, seeking damages. That and other pressure may have finally taken a toll on Bosch as, according to the ESPN report, he is ready to cooperate with MLB investigators in exchange for their dropping the case. With Bosch testifying against players, the league could begin the suspension process “within the next few weeks.”

Should all the players be suspended, it would mark the largest number of suspensions for performance-enhancing substances in the history of professional sports. In 2005, the first year of mandatory drug testing, MLB suspended 12 players between April and November of the year, the largest amount of suspensions at the major-league level to date. At the time, first-time suspensions against the joint drug agreement between MLB and the players’ union were only for 10 games. Since then, the number of games a player can be suspended for has increased dramatically to 50 for a first violation, 100 for a second, and a potential permanent suspension from both MLB and minor-league baseball for a third.

But, according to the ESPN report, the league could seek “100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun, and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players' connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.” This would seem to be in violation of the current drug agreement. If the league were seeking two suspensions tied to the Bosch testimony, the league would have to seek a first suspension for a violation (50 games), then a second suspension for denying PED use to league investigators while the first suspension was under appeal (100 games). If that were the case, the players would get not 100, but 150 games in total suspensions.

As part of the drug policy, if the league pursues any suspension, the MLB Players Association has the right to file a grievance (and in this case, it most assuredly will) based on the fact that the league would be seeking suspension not for a positive drug test, but rather with “non-analytical” findings via testimony from Bosch. Reports have alleged that he supplied substances such as testosterone and hGH that appear in notes obtained through investigative reporting, initially via the Miami New Times. With an appeal, the grievance is heard before an arbitration panel that consists of a representative from Major League Baseball (most likely MLB’s Executive Vice President, Economics & League Affairs, Rob Manfred), a representative from the MLBPA (most likely Executive Director Michael Weiner) and the “panel chair” who is deemed to be neutral. That arbitrator, who is selected by both sides, is currently Fredric Horowitz, who replaced Shyam Das.

It’s important to note that Das was fired shortly after ruling in favor of Ryan Braun in his case to get his 50-game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone rescinded due to mishandling of his collected urine sample. At the time, league officials were furious at Das’ ruling and talked of taking the matter to court. At the time, it was the first time ever that a suspension had been overturned (shortly thereafter, Eliezer Alfonzo of the Rockies had his 100-game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone rescinded), and the latest joint drug policy sees those loopholes closed.

Still, the league has never forgotten “the one that got away,” and the fact that Braun’s name is linked to notes by Bosch adds to speculation that Biogenesis was the source of the synthetic testosterone allegedly provided to the former NL MVP.

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Related Content:  Alex Rodriguez,  Ryan Braun,  Steroids,  PEDs,  Biogenesis,  HGH

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