Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Biogenesis Investigation far from over

By Dustin Copening

Social media has transformed the way that sports fans and the media react to big news stories. It’s placed an amazing amount of information just one click of the mouse or tap of the smartphone screen away. Such was the case yesterday evening when a tweet from T.J. Quin from ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” set off a wave of frenzy on Twitter that was still rippling this morning.  

Rangers fans and the entirety of baseball have been holding their breath since Nelson Cruz and 19 other players were linked to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic for purchasing PED’s in this Miami New Times report in late January. Now the news had broken that MLB will be seeking suspensions on the 20 players the public knows about, and probably more.

The legion of Rangers faithful that populate Twitter every game night were thrown into a panic. First Kinsler, then Beltre, and now this? Olt can’t possibly be expected to play RF after just returning to Round Rock from his rehab in Arizona. You can’t move Kinsler or Profar to a new position mid season, can you?With the immediacy of information comes the immediacy of overreaction.

Some form of sanity began to sink in this morning though, as the work of Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark’s appearance on “Mike and Mike” circulated and quelled some fears that a suspension of the players involved was imminent. Too much murkiness still surrounds the situation. What is clear is that this is not a slam dunk case, even with the cooperation of Tony Bosch.

Here’s what we know about the owner of the now defunct Biogenesis of America:
  • He started peddling PED’s because he was broke. He at one time owed at least $20,000 to one ex-wife and $32,000 to another in unpaid child support. He foreclosed on the home he purchased with his first wife, leaving $184,000 unpaid. He failed to repay a $65,000 investment made in one of his first failed businesses. The lady who invested in Miami Med Management Consultants came up with the money by taking out a mortgage on her house.
  • Even after the apparent success of Biogenesis, Bosch continued to rip people off. While his business was generating $25,000 per month, a former secretary claims to have worked there for two months without receiving a single paycheck, and that other employees went unpaid during that time. A client who became an investor and part-owner in the clinic became suspicious about the validity of the business when Bosch, “started being really squirrely about money.”
  • Bosch constantly bragged about providing PED’s to Alex Rodriguez, and he kept detailed logs on his professional athlete clients. Some by hand and others on a computer. Despite this mountain of data and braggadocios behavior, no one has yet to come forward and place Bosch and anyone named in the documents in the same place at the same time. One former employee says athletes were never seen in the office.
  • Bosch is not a licensed physician, and was not licensed to practice medicine in Florida while his clinic was open. He also publicly stated to ESPN that he didn’t, “know anything about performance enhancing drugs.”

In short, Tony Bosch’s credibility as a witness is as flimsy as any other drug dealer who decides to flip on his clients to save his own rear. Which is all that this sudden spark of honesty is about.
MLB has agreed to drop their lawsuit against Bosh, cover any financial or personal liability due to his cooperation, provide a security detail to physically protect him, and call him a really swell guy if the state or federal government decides to bring charges against him.

Bud Selig will need more than the word of a known swindling scoundrel and his boxes of notes if he plans to back up the suspension of several members of the most powerful labor union in America. Such an arduous task takes gobs and gobs of time.

The investigation into these alleged violations began long before the story broke in the Miami New Times. Major League Baseball started looking into connections between Bosch and players as far back as last summer, and became frustrated enough with the course of events to pay $5,000 to a former Biogenesis employee for information when the New Times refused to turn over their evidence (another credibility concern). Even after the league meets with Bosch for several days starting this Friday, they will have the job of corroborating the evidence he provides so that the case can stand up to the scrutiny of the appeals process.

In order to strengthen their case, MLB’s investigators are attempting to gain cooperation of two to three more people involved in Bosch’s operation. It should surprise no one if it takes several more weeks or months to accomplish this.

And now the MLBPA has issued a statement confirming that they will indeed defend every player involved in the investigation vigorously, and that the Commissioner’s Office has vowed not to make any disciplinary decision until every player named is interviewed. That’s a lot of face time that will need to be squeezed in most likely on player off days. Especially if the number of players involved climb from 20 to 40, and before the appeals process even begins.

What if MLB tries to skip the 50 game suspension and jump to 100 games for players like Cruz, who have no previous violations but have denied involvement with Biogenesis? It’s an option that is available to the league, but requires concrete evidence that the player purchased PED’s with the absence of a positive test. Rest assured that there is no receipt for HGH in existence with Nelson Cruz or Jhonny Peralta’s names on them. Connecting the dots to a purchase from Tony Bosch will take even more time.

Ultimately the Commissioner will find the evidence he needs to send a resounding message to everyone involved that cheating will no longer be tolerated. There’s too much smoke for the fire not to exist somewhere. In the meantime, Nelson Cruz and the other 19 players will continue about their business. The cloud over their heads will follow them around, but the final resolution is still a long way off.

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