Major League Baseball is gathering and reviewing information regarding Tuesday's report in the Miami New Times that linked at least seven Major Leaguers to performance-enhancing substances via a recently closed clinic in Miami, but also expressed confidence that the developments demonstrate the scope of the sport's anti-doping efforts.
The newspaper said that records it obtained connect the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez, the Rangers' Nelson Cruz and others to Anthony Bosch, the former owner of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. In the cases of some, Bosch's handwritten notes indicated that players obtained human growth hormone and other substances from him.
"We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances," MLB's statement read in part. "These developments, however, provide evidence of the comprehensive nature of our anti-drug efforts. Through our department of investigations, we have been actively involved in the issues in South Florida. It is also important to note that three of the players allegedly involved already have been disciplined under the Joint Drug Program. ... We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information. We will refrain from further comment until this process is complete."
The New York Daily News reported on Saturday that Rodriguez had been advised by Bosch, who is reported to be under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Florida authorities for possible illegal distribution of drugs, including human growth hormone and testosterone.
According to the New Times, a weekly publication, other Bosch clients included A's pitcher Bartolo Colon, 2012 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Melky Cabrera of the Blue Jays and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal. A seventh player, Cesar Carrillo, pitched for the Padres in 2009 and finished last season in the Tigers organization. According to the Daily News, as many as 20 players could be involved.
Cabrera, Colon and Grandal tested positive for PEDs last year and were suspended, while Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used PEDs while playing for Texas from 2001-03 but has insisted he hasn't used them since.
Tuesday's report said that Bosch's notes list the players' names and the substances they received. The newspaper said several unidentified employees and clients confirmed that the clinic distributed such substances.
A spokesman for A-Rod released the following statement: "The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story –- at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez –- are not legitimate."
Gonzalez tweeted: "I've never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will. I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substance provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie."
The Rangers released a statement regarding Cruz: "The Rangers were contacted late last week by Miami New Times regarding the story posted this morning. At that time, the Rangers contacted Major League Baseball on that inquiry. The team will have no further comment."
The Yankees also released a statement: "We fully support the Commissioner's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. This matter is now in the hands of the Commissioner's Office. We will have no further comment until that investigation has concluded."
A source confirmed a USA Today story that said Rodriguez, who is expected to miss at least the first half of the regular season while recovering from left hip surgery, could face a suspension without a positive test. The source stressed, however, that this can apply to any player linked to PEDs. Outfielders Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen were suspended in 2007 for "non-analytical positives" when it was learned that they purchased human growth hormone and steroids. Braves outfielder Jordan Shaefer, then a Minor Leaguer, was similarly disciplined the following year.
MLB announced last month expanded testing that will include in-season blood tests for human growth hormone and the establishment of baseline testosterone readings for all players that will make it easier to spot irregularities.
At the time, Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, noted that the use of synthetic testosterone has become an increasing concern in recent years. The Daily News reported that it's believed players may use patches, rubbing creams or gels containing fast-acting testosterone on the palms, wrists, elbows and underarms.
Continued the MLB statement: "The recommendations of the Mitchell Report have once again played a critical role in Major League Baseball's ongoing efforts against performance-enhancing drugs. MLB implemented all of the recommendations made by Sen. Mitchell in 2007, several of which emphasized the significance of installing proactive investigative services.
"The establishment of our department of investigations has represented a critical advance in these comprehensive efforts. In the years since its formation, DOI's work has proven pivotal to bringing to light information regarding the use of performance-enhancing substances. Furthermore, DOI has built strong working relationships with federal and local law-enforcement authorities. These relationships are crucial because only law-enforcement officials have the capacity to reach those outside the game who are involved in the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
"Vigilance remains the key toward protecting the integrity of our game. We have the best and most stringent drug-testing policy in professional sports, we continue to work with our doctors and trainers to learn what they are seeing day to day and we educate our players about the game's unbending zero-tolerance approach. We remain fully committed to following all leads and seeking the appropriate outcomes for all those who use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances, which have no place in our game."