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MLB Investigates Star Players In Drug Probe

Jun 5, 2013
Originally published on July 3, 2013 10:26 pm
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Major League Baseball is investigating as many as 20 players, including some of the league's biggest stars. MLB wants to know if they used banned drugs from an anti-aging clinic in Florida. That clinic is now closed and the owner is now cooperating with MLB investigators. Two former MVPs, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, are reportedly on the list of players who are being interviewed. ESPN's "Outside the Lines" broke the story last night.

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us now. Tom, what can you tell us?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Well, Robert, as you mentioned, the founder of the wellness clinic in Miami, Tony Bosch, has decided to cooperate with Major League Baseball investigators on this case, after originally denying that he was involved in giving players any banned performance-enhancing drugs.

The players union released a statement today saying, quote, they are, "Major League Baseball is in the process of interviewing players." Every player has been or will be represented by an attorney from the players association. The union has said it would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged these investigations. But, of course, Robert, tons of prejudging going on right now.

SIEGEL: Well, according to the headlines, some players could be suspended for up to 100 games. A baseball season is 162 games, that's a pretty big suspension. Is that possible? How could that be?

GOLDMAN: It is but, you know, we are still a ways away from that. Today, I asked someone very close to the case if we'll see suspensions within the week. The person said no. Some reports say it could be months before baseball even tries to take action against the players. And, as I just said in the statement, the union is all over this. It's the strongest union in sports and there certainly will be challenges if baseball wants to suspend players for large amounts of time, especially since reportedly there are no positive drug results in this case.

So they're saying, you know, there could be these 100-game suspensions. We will have to wait and see.

SIEGEL: And their rationale for the 100 games is 50-plus-50; 50 for the offense of being connected to this Miami lab and then the second 50 for lying about it.

GOLDMAN: That's right. It's basically two punishments in one, as you say. The connection that's shown, even if there's not an actual positive drug test result, there could be what they call a Non Analytical Positive - enough corroborating information that proves their guilt; plus the fact that they lied about it publicly and to investigators, that would constitute a second offense. These would be first and second offenses in one, meaning 100 games.

SIEGEL: Tell us about Tony Bosch and about his clinic.

GOLDMAN: Well, he's not a doctor. He founded Biogenesis, which is a wellness or anti-aging clinic in Miami. Interestingly, Bosch's father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, is probably better well-known. He was involved in the 2009 Manny Ramirez suspension after investigators found that he had written a prescription, the elder Bosch, for a banned substance for Manny Ramirez. And now his son, Tony Bosch, may be in trouble as well.

SIEGEL: This has to be embarrassing for Major League Baseball, which is thought to have the strongest anti-doping program among major sports leagues in the country. What does this do to its credibility, since I gather these dealings with Bosch's lab would have come well after the very, very highly publicized BALCO investigation?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I guess an indication of progress, you know, baseball is considered having the strongest anti-doping policy of the major professional sports. And an indication of progress is when BALCO happened, some 10 years ago, that was flushed out by, you know, law enforcement and dogged media people. Now, Major League Baseball has really led the charge against Biogenesis and is running this investigation and reportedly wanting to come down very strongly on some of these players.

But, you know, Robert, there was supposed to be the steroids era in baseball and, you know, we were supposed to be beyond that. This is evidence - if it's all proved - that we're not beyond it. Maybe we'll never be.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.