MLB Suspends Players Linked to Biogenesis PED Scandal

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 04:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers bats and flys out to centerfield in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum on August 4, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Alex Rodriguez headlines a large list of players suspended by Major League Baseball in connection to the Biogenesis scandal.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 4:35 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

From David Waldstein of The New York Times

ARod has officially filed his formal appeal to the 211-game suspension, according to 2 people familiar with case. Game on!

— David Waldstein (@DavidWaldstein) August 7, 2013

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UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 6, at 3:15 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

MLB Public Relations revealed Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal:

Alex Rodriguez of New York Yankees suspended 211 Regular Season Games through 2014 season. ...

Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.

MLB Public Relations provided more details behind the decision:

Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.

MLB Public Relations also confirmed the suspensions Rosenthal previously reported: 

MLB issued the following discipline today for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program in relation to the Biogenesis investigation. Players receiving 50-game suspensions without pay for their violations of the Program are:

• Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo;
• San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera;
• New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli;
• Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz;
• Padres pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League;
• Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, who is currently of the roster of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League;
• Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League;
• Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League;
• Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto;
• Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta;
• New York Mets outfielder Cesar Puello, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League; and
• Mets infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.

MLB Public Relations then provided insight into the remaining players linked:

Norberto’s suspension will be effective immediately once he signs with another Major League organization. All other suspensions are effective immediately. None of the players will appeal their discipline.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, all of whom already have served 50-game suspensions as a result of their violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program stemming from their connections to Biogenesis, will not receive additional discipline.

Major League Baseball’s investigation found no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez or Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia.

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UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 5, at 12:35 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

From Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

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UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 5, at 12:25 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

From ESPN's Todd Wills

Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz has decided to accept a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Monday for his connection to the Biogenesis case, according to a report by

... Cruz has also changed agents as he's no longer with the ACES group and is now represented by Adam Katz, who's with Wasserman Sports, a source told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. 

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UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 5, at 9:55 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

From Quinn:

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UPDATE: Wednesday, July 31, at 3:10 a.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo

The New York Daily News provides the latest on potential suspensions:

Major League Baseball officials told union leaders during a meeting at the Players Association’s midtown Manhattan offices on Tuesday that they plan to suspend Alex Rodriguez and eight other players who allegedly obtained performance-enhancing drugs from a South Florida anti-aging clinic.

The report also names players who are likely to avoid punishment:

Not all of the players linked to Biogenesis in media reports face discipline, sources have told The News. Two former Yankees—Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera and Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon—will not be punished because they already have been suspended as a result of their links to Biogenesis and its owner, self-styled “biochemist” Anthony Bosch.

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UPDATE: Tuesday, July 30, at 7:45 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan provides an update:

The vast majority of players implicated in the Biogenesis investigation plan on accepting suspensions of at least 50 games, major league sources told Yahoo! Sports, with a notable exception: New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez continues to hold out in spite of threats from Major League Baseball to ban him from the game.

Faced with a litany of evidence including text messages to Biogenesis clinic founder Tony Bosch promising to send money in exchange for performance-enhancing drugs, upward of a dozen players are expected to agree to suspensions offered by the league within the next 72 hours, sources said.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, is obstinate in his plans to appeal any suspension despite what one source deemed “overwhelming” evidence tying him to extensive performance-enhancing drug use as well as interfering with the league’s investigation into Biogenesis, the south Florida wellness clinic at the center of the latest PED controversy.

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UPDATE: Tuesday, July 30, at 5:00 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

CBS' Jon Heyman provides an update on the Biogenesis situation:

MLB is working with all the affected players and appears likely to suspend or have an agreement to suspend the other Biogenesis-linked players who have never previously been suspended for 50 games, though it's remotely possible one or two others could get more than 50. Word is, though, that three players on the Biogenesis dockets -- Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon, Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal -- aren't expected to be punished further as they are apparently considered to have done their time with suspensions served for failed tests in 2012.

A-Rod is the headline-grabbing name, but the other players with 50-game bans looming are Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Norbeto Martin.

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UPDATE: Monday, July 22, at 2:25 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

CBS' Jon Heyman has the latest on MLB possibly suspending players linked to the biogenesis scandal:

Alex Rodriguez, who once appeared on his way to breaking baseball's all-time home run record, is all but assured of a Biogenesis-related MLB ban being levied against him -- quite possibly more than the usual 50 games for first-time offenders -- people familiar with the case say.

Rodriguez is expected to be one of up to 15 or so players to receive suspensions by MLB when they are announced, possibly within a couple weeks. All the suspensions could be announced simultaneously.

Ron Berkowitz, Rodriguez's publicist, declined comment on the investigation...

...Any Biogenesis-related suspension based on so-called "non-analytic positives" (not triggered by a positive test) is subject to appeal -- though the likelihood now is that suspension announcements would be made before any appeals. Players union chief Michael Weiner told the New York Daily News, speaking generally and not necessarily about A-Rod, that appeals aren't necessarily automatic, explaining that in cases where the evidence is overwhelming the player might simply accept a suspension.

Weiner also suggested appeals could possibly go into next year.

Rodriguez had targeted Monday for his return to play for the Yankees, but an MRI revealed a Grade 1 left quad strain, setting him back. By rule, he must sit for five days before beginning a new rehab assignment, though there's no guarantee he'll be back then.

'I don't think he's going to beat the suspension back to the field,' one person connected to Rodriguez said...

...Sources who have spoken to Rodriguez say the Yankees third baseman is expecting a suspension, though he hasn't said that publicly.

MLB people declined to comment, except to say its investigators are going where the evidence takes them.

MLB appears to be readying bans which likely will be based on the drug-test failure standard:

First offense: 50 games
Second offense: 100 games
Third offense: Lifetime ban

Article 7A of the Joint Drug Agreement suggests the 50/100/life standards can be used for test failures or players who 'otherwise violated the program.'

Not only that, but Heyman's report says that the evidence against Rodriguez will be more than just testimony.

"MLB has receipts, checks, the whole nine yards," a person with ties to an investigated player said.

"He's looking at a lengthy suspension," another player-connected source said about A-Rod.

As for how long the suspension might be, Heyman expands on the possibilities.

If MLB can possibly prove drug ties before and after his MLB interviews denying involvement, it's possible he could get 150 games. While it would seem to be difficult to imagine a lifetime ban within one ruling, 150 games away could effectively end the career of a player with two bad hips who turns 38 on July 27.

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UPDATE: Tuesday, July 16, at 2:48 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), players facing suspensions probably wouldn't serve them immediately:

The baseball players' association says any suspensions resulting from the sport's latest drug investigation likely won't be served until next year if the discipline is challenged before an arbitrator.

Union head Michael Weiner says he expects Major League Baseball will notify the union of its plans for penalties in the next month, and the union will maintain that any discipline should not be announced until after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz upholds a ban.

Weiner says that because of the time needed to prepare and hold hearings, the case of any player challenging a penalty won't be decided during this season.

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UPDATE: Saturday, July 13, at 10:41 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

New York Daily News reporters Bill Madden and Teri Thompson detailed the latest development on A-Rod's situation:

Lawyers for Alex Rodriguez, now aware of the extent of Major League Baseball’s case against the Yankee third baseman and in a possible attempt to cut their client’s potentially massive losses, are engaging in internal discussions about brokering a plea deal with MLB to reduce A-Rod’s looming drug suspension, three sources familiar with baseball’s investigation into Anthony Bosch and the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal have told the Daily News.

According to the sources, a 150-game suspension might be the best that could be expected for Rodriguez, who is rehabbing from hip surgery with high Single-A Tampa and was chastised by the Yankees Saturday for failing to report to the team’s complex for Friday night’s game following a four-and-a-half hour meeting with MLB officials who outlined their case against him. 

According to another source, Rodriguez’s meeting with MLB ended at about 4 p.m., and a clearly shaken Rodriguez then met with MLB Players Association reps for an hour and a half to discuss what had been outlined by MLB officials. When Rodriguez didn’t show up at the Yankee complex, GM Brian Cashman then tried to reach the three-time AL MVP, who told him that he “just couldn’t make it.”

Meanwhile, an A-Rod spokesman told The News Saturday night in reference to a possible plea deal that “nobody from Alex’s team has made any such comments, and as we have said before, we are respecting the process and following the procedures as outlined in the joint agreement."

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UPDATE: Friday, July 12, at 12:55 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford

ESPN's Darren Rovell supplies a startling detail about MLB's possible intentions for A-Rod and Braun:

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Original Text

According to T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN, these players are likely to be suspended for their connection to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal. 

However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that MLB officials say the ESPN report is premature and nothing has been decided as of yet:

Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch has fully cooperated with the MLB investigation, reportedly handing over incriminating documents that link the players to his PED clinic, according to Quinn and Fish.

Per ESPN's report, Braun refused to answer any questions about the scandal in a meeting with MLB officials on June 29.     

Alex Rodriguez will meet with MLB officials on Friday to answer questions about his alleged connections to the Miami clinic, according to a staff report from the New York Daily News

Both Braun and Rodriguez could potentially face 100-game suspensions—the penalty doled out to players for a second offense. The argument for the longer suspensions, per ESPN's report, would be that the pair of sluggers committed multiple offenses by receiving the drugs and then lying about it.

Rodriguez's use of PEDs between 2001 and 2003 will also be a topic of conversation during Friday's meeting, per the New York Daily News. The report also states that Rodriguez's $100 million deal could be in jeopardy if the third baseman is suspended.

Should A-Rod opt for the physically unable to perform list, he would be guaranteed the full amount of his contract upon retirement. 

Sources close to Rodriguez believe he has formulated a defense that will exonerate him from the scandal. The three-time American League MVP is currently playing for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate.