How do you call something like this news? It’s definitely new, as in we’ve never heard of this specific story before, but everything about it feels familiar. The players named, the shady medical practice, and tons of leaked documents. It’s just another made-to-order PED parable.
This time the story comes from South Florida, a place some have called “ground zero” for what remains of banned substances in pro sports. A guy with a failed anti-aging clinic had internal documents leaked that showed several major MLB players were customers of his. And they weren’t exactly shopping for Olay.
However, of all the big names implicated on the ledgers, there appear to be varying levels of guilt, making it hard to — in the eyes of public opinion, anyway — convict or acquit those named collectively. On one hand, there’s Alex Rodriguez, an admitted steroid user who specifically has the letters “HGH” appear next to his name in a ledger. Then there’s guys like Gio Gonzalez, who have never been connected to performance-enhancing drugs and, aside from proving they paid for SOMETHING at the clinic, the evidence indicates virtually nothing.
And that appears to be the stark division hear: the presumed guilty versus the presumed innocent. When it comes to Bartolo Colon, A-Rod, and Melky Cabrera, we’re not very quick to give the benefit of the doubt. But Gonzalez and Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz? Their lack of a PED history leaves us unsure what to think.
Since we don’t have anything to believe these five guys showed up together, palling around as they got juiced up, and the evidence records them as individual customers, let’s treat them as just that. Let’s look at this news as it pertains to these five players INDIVIDUALLY.
When it comes to Alex Rodriguez, I’m virtually ready to slap the guilty label on right now. As soon as the story from the Miami New Times broke, A-Rod lawyered up and started letting a PR firm do the talking for him. All this from a guy that admitted to using illegal substances between 2001-2003? It’s no surprise that the Yankees themselves aren’t backing their third basemen. All their statement said was, “Yeah, we’re just going to pipe down and see how this plays out.”
Then there’s the part of the ledger that specifically says HGH and Testosterone Creams next to Rodriguez’s name. If I were him, I would have probably snagged a lawyer too because the implications of this are devastating. Not only is it alleged proof that A-Rod ‘roided, it directly contradicts the timeline he himself gave when he said he only used between 2001 and 2003. If the credibility of this information holds up, it could officially destroy Rodriguez’s legacy. Obliterate it. Barry Bonds style.
Speaking of cheating Giants, Melky Cabrera is also named. You might remember Cabrera JUST served a PED suspension for a positive test in August of last year. And now, with the dates given in these documents, we may have our explanation why. According to the Miami New Times report, there are entries dated April 2012 that say Cabrera has “meds”, a “cocktail of drugs including IGF-1”. IGF-1, a hormone used to treat growth failure, has been banned in baseball for quite awhile.
Also suspended this past season was Bartolo Colon. Unlike Cabrera, though, his involvement here is a bit fuzzy. There’s no specific mention of any banned substances, only notes from Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s head, that said Colon had a regular fee of $3,000. Maybe it was illegal stuff, maybe it wasn’t. But since he was already suspended, isn’t it safe to say “does it really matter?” Whether what he bought in Miami was illegal or not, something tripped Colon up along the way in his career.
Then there are the guys who have NEVER been suspended for PED use, Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz. Gonzalez, in particular is a real wild card here.
Not only does he appear on the clientele list, but his father does as well. His father told the Miami New Times that he was there to “lose weight” and his son never used banned substances. Gio himself released a statement saying he had never met or spoken with “Tony Bosch” and he never was given any supplements by him. The strange thing here, though, is that he calls him ‘Tony’. Every official article refers to the man as ‘Anthony’, so if Gio doesn’t know ‘Tony’, why is he referring to him with nicknames?
Gonzalez’s name appears five times in the documents handed over to the Miami New Times, significantly less than Cabrera (14) and Rodriguez (16). However, one specific entry notes Gio dropping $1,000 for an undisclosed purchase. I’m guessing it wasn’t a lifetime supply of multivitamins.
As bizarre as Gonzalez’s circumstances are in the documents handed over, though, Nelson Cruz’s involvement is exponentially more mysterious. The only possible connection to illegal substances is a notation dated from July of last year in which Bosch says he will “owe” Cruz “troches”. The notes later describe these cryptic troches as drug lozenges and the article from the New Times submits that they include testosterone. However, until we know exactly what the troches were, that cannot be confirmed.
If you ask me, it’s not surprising that the least-damning evidence is associated with the guys with a decidedly cleaner past. We don’t exactly yet know what went on at Biogenesis of America, and it’s very possible that these five pro baseball players came there for vastly different reasons. Several of these guys have ties to the Miami area and, for them, this could’ve been nothing more than a local medical practice they visited for some sort of LEGAL treatment.
But we don’t know. We just don’t know. And that’s what leaves us unsure of what to make of all of this so early on.
If I had to say one thing is for sure, it’s that no specific disciplinary action will come of all this. Everything about this story, from what it entails to how it came about, is super shady. There are major chain of custody issues with these evidentiary documents. If Ryan Braun can get off because a urine test wasn’t mailed at the right time, there’s no way Major League Baseball is going to dole out punishments off of sloppy, handwritten notes that were given to a second-rate newspaper.
More than likely, this’ll become just another point of reference in the modern steroid era, like the Mitchell Report or any of the Congressional hearings. If PED’s ever come up again with these guys, we’ll look back and say “Oh, but of course. Just look at what happened in 2013.”
No decisive, palpable change. Just more icky, circumstantial hearsay.
Score another dodged bullet for the Steroid Era for now.
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for MLB updates and other shenanigans.