Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baseball Faces New Drug Issue, As First Hinted at In This Blog

        By Ross Newhan

        As I wrote in a Nov. 28 blog, Baseball was nervously girding for a new steroid era built around synthetic testosterone, and was negotiating with the players union on a new and tougher testing program aimed at the synthetics. That program--featuring a stiffer synthetic protocol and in season blood testing for human growth hormone--has been in place now for several weeks, but it comes too late to forestall the potential indication of sweeping synthetic use.

     The Miami News Herald, a weekly publication citing information in the personal notebooks of a former employee of a since closed Miami "wellness" clinic, named Alex Rodriguez and five other baseball players as having used or deeply investigated performance enhancing drugs. The notebooks belonged to Anthony Bosch, the director of the since closed Biogenesis clinic. Bosch, according to two baseball sources familiar with the industry's investigation of the Biogenesis and other South Florida clinics, confirmed to me Tuesday morning that Bosch is not licensed to practice medicine in Florida and is the son of Pedro Bosch, who was Manny Ramirez's doctor when Ramirez, then with the Dodgers, was prompted to drop his appeal of a 2009 testosterone suspension when baseball investigators unearthed a testosterone prescription from Pedro Bosch.

     The notebooks belonging to Anthony Bosch portray Rodriguez as a serial drug user despite his 2009 denials, according to the News Herald, and also name Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez and former San Diego pitcher Cesar Carillo. Cabrera, then with the San Francisco Giants, drew a 50 game suspension last year when he tested positive for elevated testosterone and ultimately gave up the National League batting title. The promising Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the 2013 season for a similarly positive test.

    The notebooks, according to the sources I talked to, provide detailed information on doping in several sports, lacerate in depth the last bit of credibility that Rodriguez has tried to sustain and could result in criminal accusations or suspensions. Both Rodriguez, facing the possibility that the already fed up Yankees could attempt to void his longterm contract because of continued drug use, and Gonzalez have denied connections to the clinic.

    Under the Joint Drug Agreement between baseball and the union, the commissioner can enforce disciplinary action against a player for "just cause" where there is a violation not specifically mentioned in the agreement. PED use, purchase and/or prescriptions fall under that umbrella. This promises to be a moving story but should not come as a surprise to readers of the blog.           

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