Major League Baseball has gone through dramatic efforts to ensure that performance-enhancing drugs stay out of the sport, but the league might have finally crossed the line.
Last season, the league handed out 12 different 50-game suspensions for players who had involvement with Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic that had apparently supplied these men with illegal substances. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, who will miss the entire 2014 MLB season due to a ban from the league, received the harshest punishment.
The only problem is that the data the league office used in informing their decision to hand out these penalties reportedly came from a stolen source. Gus Garcia-Roberts of Newsday provides the details:
Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them, according to Florida investigators and an April police report obtained by Newsday.
MLB investigators bought Biogenesis records anyway, and a Boca Raton police detective investigating the theft noted that baseball officials neglected to notify law enforcement officials that they had done so for nearly eight months.
Documents were taken directly out of a car that was broken into in Boca Raton, Florida. MLB then paid two brothers from Long Island and a felon $125,000 for the stolen records, according to the report.
MLB senior vice president of public relations Pat Courtney responded to the allegations by saying, "We have stated repeatedly that we had no knowledge that the documents we purchased were stolen."
While this would make sense in some cases, officials specifically "warned MLB not to purchase the documents" before any transaction took place.
It is hard to tell what effect, if any, this will have on the players hit with suspensions, considering almost all of them have already been served. Notable players like Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Braun were forced to miss time in 2013 due to the evidence found in this case.
However, Rodriguez continues to sit out due to his year-long ban. The third baseman fought hard to appeal the penalty and got it reduced from 211 games, but he is still not accepting his fate. According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, he is also suing arbitrator Fredric Horowitz for having "evident partiality" in the case.
If MLB really did use illegal means to obtain evidence, it could only help Rodriguez's case going forward.
While it remains to be seen what exactly will come of this news, at the very least, this puts the league in the headlines for negative reasons and shines the spotlight once again on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport.