Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Steroid Era Rolls On, and Who Believes the Denials Anymore?

      By Ross Newhan

      Baseball's steroid era plods on--synthetics, human growth hormone, deer antler spray--and the only way to slow it, as I wrote to stiffen the penalties, as many players have supported in calls and letters to their union.

     The names of fourteen players--led by Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun (whose explanation seems to challenge belief)--have emerged from the notebooks and records of Tony Bosch, a clinician at the now closed Biogenesis Clinic in South Florida, and it is believed there are more names to come.

     It's another major hit to baseball, whose investigators are scouring the Miami area and meeting with editors of the Miami News Times, a weekly publication that broke the initial story, in an effort to obtain any and all material that the News Times retains.

     The investigators are also following two tracks.

    One leads to the University of Miami, where the strength and conditioning coach, Jimmy Goins, is alleged to have ordered performance enhancers from Biogenesis.

    Four of the 14 players whose names have been revealed to this point---Braun, Baltimore second baseman Danny Valencia, San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal and Detroit minor league pitcher Cesar Carrillo--played at Miami, and Rodriguez has donated about $4 million to the program. The university is conducting its own investigation.

    The second track leads to Seth and Sam Levinson, whose firm, ACES, represents five of the 14 players identified to this point. The Levinsons released a lengthy statement denying any dealings with Bosch and Biogenesis, insisting they would never advise a player to try a PED or condone the use of a PED.

   However, the Bosch notes, according to material that has surfaced so far, contain the names of  Goins and a former Levinson employee, Juan Nunez, who may have provided Melky Cabrera with the enhancers that led to a positive test and his 50 game suspension with the San Francisco Giants last year.

   Much of Bosch's notes take two forms:

   --Either outlining the PEDs that were provided and/or injected a player (and when), such as in the Rodriguez situation...

   --Or denoting money apparently paid or owed Bosch, whose father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, wrote the prescription that got Manny Ramirez suspended in 2009.

   Rodriguez, through his crises management firm, has denied any involvement with Bosch or his clinic and accused baseball of conducting a "witchhunt" designed to drive him out of the game.

   In the case of Braun, the figure $14,000, is listed by his name, and the Milwaukee outfielder has said in explanation that last year, when his lawyers were researching an appeal of his 50 game suspension as the result of a positive test for elevated testosterone--an appeal he won based on a technicality in the handling of his urine sample--his attorneys were familiar with Bosch and hired him as a consultant. One of the attorneys, David Cornwell, has since, in reaction to the Braun statement, said that he had no previous knowledge of Bosch, and the question lingers, even if there was previous knowledge, why they would hire an alleged clinician from a clinic with which Braun insists he has never had any dealings rather than a doctor or expert familiar with chain of custody issues?

    The beat goes on, and there is no predicting how this will play out for any of the 14 named so far.

    Two, Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, drew 50 game suspensions last year for positive tests, and Grandal, the promising Padres catcher, will miss the first 50 games of the upcoming season because of a positive test.

    It is clearer than ever that this remains an era without end, and if more evidence of that is needed, Curt Schilling supplied some on yet another front Thursday, another situation that baseball has said it will investigate.

   Schilling, retired since 2009, said that while battling a shoulder injury with Boston in 2008, an employee no longer with the Red Sox, suggested he try a banned supplement.

    "It was embarrassing to me because that is something I wouldn't do and because other people were present and heard him," Schilling said, adding to the embarrassment that is the daily reading material provided by Tony Bosch.       

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