MLB suing Florida clinic over banned player drugs
MIAMI — Major League Baseball on Friday sued a now-shuttered South Florida clinic and its operators, accusing them of scheming to provide banned performance-enhancing drugs to players in violation of their contracts.
The lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court seeks unspecified damages from Coral Gables anti-aging clinic Biogenesis of America and its operator, Anthony Bosch. Several other Bosch associates are named in the lawsuit. A phone message left for a Bosch representative wasn't immediately returned, and associates previously have said Bosch is out of the country.
MLB contends the clinic's operators solicited players to use banned substances knowing that would violate their contracts, specifically the drug prevention and treatment program that became effective in 2003. That program, part of baseball's collective bargaining agreement with players, includes a list of banned substances, lays out penalties for violations and imposes testing requirements.
Because of the alleged conspiracy, the lawsuit contends MLB has suffered “costs of investigation, loss of goodwill, loss of revenue and profits and injury to its reputation, image, strategic advantage and fan relationships,” attorneys Allen Weitzman and Matthew Menchel wrote in the complaint.
Although it seeks money damages, the lawsuit also could provide a way for MLB to more deeply investigate Biogenesis and Bosch through depositions of witnesses and subpoenas to obtain documents. MLB was rebuffed in an effort to obtain clinic records from the alternative Miami New Times newspaper, which has published detailed accounts of the alleged player drug use.
Among those implicated are New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. Most have denied the Biogenesis link, although Rodriguez has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career and Colon, Cabrera and Grandal were suspended for 50 games each last year for testing positive for elevated testosterone levels.
The lawsuit also contends that former star Manny Ramirez, who has signed to play for a team in Taiwan, obtained a prohibited substance from Bosch in 2009 that resulted in Ramirez's 50-game suspension by MLB when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The suit marks the first time MLB has gone on the record saying Ramirez tested positive for the female fertility drug HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin.
Elements of the scheme, according to the lawsuit, include use of fake or partial names on drug packages sent to players, visiting players at home or at hotels to personally administer the banned substances and claims made to the players that if used properly the drugs “would not result in a positive test” under the MLB drug program.
Among the banned drugs supplied, the lawsuit said, are testosterone, human growth hormone and human chorionic gonadotropin. The players were told the drugs would increase their strength and help them recover from injuries more quickly.