Why A-Rod, Other MLB Stars Could Face Suspensions in Wake of New PED Report

Will CarrollSports Injuries Lead WriterJanuary 29, 2013

Oct 16, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez talks to a fan before game three of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.  Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and other major league players, including some like Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez who have not previously been linked to PEDs, could be subject to suspensions in light of an an extensive report by Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times—even without positive tests.

The report, citing medical records, details apparent drug distribution to these players. 

The Miami clinic at the center of the story is run by Anthony Bosch. A report earlier this week in the New York Daily News discussed investigations of Bosch's operation and noted his links to Rodriguez 

Rodriguez and others may face discipline from MLB under a drug testing policy known as a non-analytic positive. In this scenario, a player does not test positive, but documentation and other evidence is strong enough to take it to MLB's drug-testing panel.

There have been past non-analytic positives in MLB, usually relating to HGH deliveries. Jordan Schafer and Rick Ankiel are two that were disciplined under this policy in the past.

Under MLB's current drug testing program, these athletes could be subjected to the same penalties as meted out for a positive test. For Rodriguez, who has admitted to drug use between 2001 and 2003, this would be considered his first offense and he would be subject to a 50-game suspension. Rodriguez is currently rehabbing from hip surgery and while much of his suspension would occur while he is on the disabled list, he would serve the suspension unpaid, costing him about $8.6 million.

The consequences are less clear for several of the athletes named in the documentation were caught in 2012, in line with the dates shown in the Bosch files. Yasmani Grandal, Cabrera and Bartolo Colon all tested positive for exogenous testosterone. MLB may have had knowledge of this investigation, leading to "for cause" tests on these athletes or perhaps led MLB to use more advanced testing on their samples.

These athletes could claim that they have already been punished for their use after a positive test. However, since there are other drugs aside from testosterone detailed in the Miami report, it is unclear whether further punishment, including suspensions of 100 games, is in the offing.

Several critics of MLB's drug testing program have said that players were circumventing testing by using a technique known as "microdosing." The documentation from Bosch does not indicate that Bosch was using this technique. In fact, the drug cocktails that he sold to players appear to include some that are easily detectable. 

It is important to note that MLB and the MLBPA have not commented on this story yet. There is no decision on any possible action against these athletes and they do have the right to appeal any decision.

According to the Miami New Times, detailed records show the type of drugs, the program set up by Bosch and a long list of athletes. While most of these PEDs are known, the notes include many abbreviations that make it unclear what some substances are. In places, Bosch appears to be using available supplements, such as "Aminorip," which is a protein drink.

Others, such as IGF-1, are in a grey area. IGF-1 was once thought to be the active part of HGH, but the cost and efficacy have caused most to move on to other substances. There are several abbreviations that are unclear or unknown in the report. 

Will Carroll has been writing about sports injuries for 12 years. His work has appeared at SI.com, ESPN.com and Football Outsiders. He wrote "The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems" in 2005.