TORONTO – The world of baseball is bracing for another potential performance enhancing drug (PED) scandal following a report Tuesday night from ESPN’s investigative sports program “Outside The Lines,” which reported MLB could suspend as many as 20 players for their alleged ties to a now closed Florida anti-aging clinic.
New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, and Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz are some of the big names in baseball that have been cited in the report.
The report centres around the clinic Biogenesis of America and its founder Tony Bosch, who has reportedly reached an agreement this week to cooperate with MLB’s investigation.
The clinic has been sued by MLB in the past for scheming to provide players with PEDs according to the Associated Press.
All players being investigated could face a possibility of being suspended for 100 games, according to the ESPN report.
“The potential legal ramification of this report are quite complex and far reaching,” David Goldstein, a sports lawyer with Cassels Brock & Blackwell, told Global News.
Goldstein said that under the joint drug agreement between the MLB and the players association a player can be suspended in two ways. The first is for an analytic positive test (a positive drug test for PEDs) or non-analytic positive, where a player does not test positive, but documentation and other evidence shows that a player is using drugs.
“A drug test is a drug test, its results are objective,” said Goldstein. “In this case the (MLB) is relying on a sworn statement from the founder of the Florida clinic. The players union will likely appeal and question the validating and reputation of the founder.”
Goldstein added that there can be several long-term consequences of being associated with PEDs.
“The first and most permanent is effect on legacy,” said Goldstein.
In 2013, baseball stars including Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens were all denied induction into the baseball hall of fame after sports writers failed to elect any candidates due to the era’s association with PEDs.
Association with steroids can also have an effect financially with players losing current endorsements and the potential for new endorsements after they retire said Goldstein.
Jays’ outfielder Melky Cabrera has been suspended in the past for PED violations. In August 2013 he was suspended for 50 games while playing for the San Francisco Giants.
Tuesday night Cabrera returned to AT & T Park in San Francisco, where he was greeted to a chorus of boos as the Toronto Blue Jays lost 2-1 to the Giants.
Following the game, Cabrera told USA Today that he was unaware of the ESPN report or any possible actions by MLB.
“If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it’s up to them,” said Cabrera. “I believe I’ve already served my sentence, especially missing the playoffs. That’s what hurt me the most.”
Baseball stars Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez have also been linked to PEDs in the past.
Braun, who was named the 2011 National League MVP, faced a possible suspension in 2012 after failing a urine test that indicated elevated levels of testosterone. Braun appealed the suspension and it was overturned over concern about the chain of command in the way his urine test was handled.
Video: Ryan Braun addresses latest PED allegations
And four years ago Alex Rodriguez admitted to and regretted the use of steroids in an interview with ESPN.
MLB has struggled to shake its association with PEDs following the Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball, commonly known as the Mitchell Report, after a nearly two year investigation into the use of steroids and human growth hormones among major league players.
Players named in the report included Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and Canadian pitcher Eric Gange.
– With files from the Associated Press
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