How Gio Gonzalez Being Cleared of PED Suspicion Impacts Nats' World Series Hopes

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How Gio Gonzalez Being Cleared of PED Suspicion Impacts Nats' World Series Hopes
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez probably never imagined he would be facing PED suspicion before the start of the 2013 season.

Instead of thinking about World Series aspirations, he was forced into making denials.

Gonzalez found himself at the center of controversy when an article published by the Miami New Times last month linked him to a South Florida anti-aging clinic that was allegedly dispensing PEDs to several major league stars.

Gonzalez issued an immediate denial via Twitter:

Now, it appears that Gonzalez did not in fact receive any PEDs or banned substances at all.

Sources told ESPN's Outside the Lines that Gonzalez did receive supplements from Biogenesis, but that none of them were PEDs, nor were they banned substances.

Documents obtained by Outside the Lines seem to support their assertions as well.

It's not only good news for Gonzalez, it's great news for the Nationals.

Gonzalez placed third last year in balloting for the National League Cy Young Award, leading the majors with 21 wins and posting a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg are both being counted on to help lead the Nationals to their ultimate goal

Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann form a tantalizing trio that figures to help lead the Nationals to a second straight NL East Division title and a World Series berth. If successful, it would be the first time a team from the nation's capital has competed in the Fall Classic since 1933.

This news takes tremendous pressure off Gonzalez as he prepares during spring training. He can move forward with the knowledge that his name has been vindicated.

While an increasing number of names continue to be included in connection with Biogenesis and PEDs, Gonzalez, if the sources are credible, is cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, there are still questions that Gonzalez will have to answer before completely moving on.

He indicated in his original denial on Twitter that he had no involvement with Biogenesis or its owner, Anthony Bosch. However, the documents obtained by Outside the Lines show that Gonzalez paid $1000 for substances—just not banned substances.

There will be questions concerning his honesty in his original denial. However, that's still far better than having to answer to the questions that many other major league players are dealing with right now.

The firestorm created by the original Miami New Times article has already cast a pall on several teams. The New York Yankees alone have to deal with two of their stars, Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli, who were linked to Biogenesis.

The San Diego Padres now have three names to worry about—Yasmani Grandal, Everth Cabrera and Fautino De Los Santos.

MLB is still conducting its own internal investigation into the matter, and it's unclear if further punishment or discipline will be handed down at any time in the future. Without actually having access to the documents themselves or getting cooperation from former Biogenesis employees, MLB would have a difficult time doling out punishment of any kind.

But the Nationals likely now won't have to worry about that. They can actually get back to the business at hand without the fear of wondering whether or not one of their star pitchers will be facing disciplinary action.

That in itself is a major relief.

Will the Nationals have a better shot at a World Series title now that Gio Gonzalez's name has been cleared?

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The Nationals put themselves in position this offseason not just to repeat as NL East Division champs. They went out and traded for a leadoff hitter in Denard Span, they signed the best closer on the market in Rafael Soriano and they re-signed one of last year's major offensive components in Adam LaRoche.

The Nationals are in win-now mode—they're not going to be content with just a division title this year.

Having the PED monkey lifted off Gonzalez's back assures that the Nationals can get back to that singular focus of World Series or bust.

Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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