The chances of Alex Rodriguez being suspended as part of the Biogenesis
investigation aren't that high, but that could change.
When the story broke and it was deemed the “East Coast BALCO” by the press, some laughed. They probably aren’t laughing now.
Last night ESPN reported that Tony Bosch, the man at the center of Biogenesis, the Miami-area anti-aging clinic that reportedly has become a boutique where as many as 20 MLB players got synthetic testosterone and possibly hGH, has decided to turn informant to the league. In exchange, the league will drop their lawsuit against Bosch and try to prevent any federal investigation against him. The league won’t be able to guarantee any federal investigation won’t occur, but Bosch appears to have been worn down, even though MLB’s lawsuit against him, Biogenesis, and others, is weak.
Today on Baseball Prospectus, I break down the technical aspects of the suspension process based on the latest Joint Drug Agreement between the league and players. The story talks about the players that could be suspended, the amount of financial cost to players (and savings to clubs) could be involved, and how the MLBPA will react.
After the story was published, Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA released the following statement:
“The Players Association has been in regular contact with the Commissioner’s Office regarding the Biogenesis investigation. They are in the process of interviewing players and every player has been or will be represented by an attorney from the Players Association. The Commissioner’s Office has assured us that no decisions regarding discipline have been made or will be made until those interviews are completed. It would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged those investigations.
The Players Association has every interest in both defending the rights of players and in defending the integrity of our joint program. We trust that the Commissioner’s Office shares these interests.”
As mentioned in the Baseball Prospectus article, the league will have an uphill climb getting the suspensions past the appeals process on just the word of Bosch. At the heart of it, Bosch will be portrayed as someone simply looking to get out legal hot water.
Where the suspensions might gain some traction ties into the number of players involved.
According to multiple reports, a total of 20 players could be potential Biogenesis clients. If all the players were suspended, it would mark the largest number of drug-related suspensions in the history of professional sports, and eclipse the most MLB players suspended in one year. Currently, that number is 12 players in 2005, the first year there was mandatory drug testing in Major League Baseball.
The biggest names allegedly linked to Biogenesis are Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. Those players aren’t likely to simply cave if Bosch testifies that he supplied PEDs to the players. Where matters could change would be with some of the lesser-known players allegedly involved.
Yasmani Grandal of the Padres may be one such player. Grandal just got done completing a 50-game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone, and a second or third suspension related to the Biogenesis case would have profound implications. For a second offense, Grandal would see a 100 game suspension. A third suspension could mean possible permanent suspension from the league. At the very least, a player has to wait an entire year to apply to be considered for reinstatement and moved off the restricted list for a third suspension of the drug policy, but there’s no guarantee that would happen as it’s tied to the Commissioner’s Office. In that, a player could see permanent banishment from not only MLB but Minor League Baseball.
A player such as Grandal could add credibility to any testimony that Bosch has. He or others could corroborate information in interviews with Bosch, and therefore make a more compelling and credible case on the league’s side. The league is already looking to interview other associates of Biogenesis to bolster their case. If other players were to turn, it could make a suspension for Rodriguez and/or Braun—the two “big fish” implicated— more likely.
There’s a lot of “what ifs” to consider, which makes the idea of any quick resolution to the suspension process in the case seem unlikely. What is certain is that Bosch appears ready to cooperate, something federal investigators could not get out of Barry Bond’s trainer Greg Anderson in the BALCO case from beginning in 2002. From that standpoint, Bosch is similar to the Roger Clemens case with Brian McNamee. The difference was McNamee was the lone witness in the case against Clemens. If MLB is able to pull in not only Bosch, but other Biogenesis associates, and possibly one or more players being implicated, then MLB’s case to uphold any suspensions in a grievance become much stronger. It will be several weeks before any of this fully unfolds, so stay tuned.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.
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