NEW: Major League Baseball says it lost revenue and "goodwill" due to clinic's actions
NEW: The league says Biogenesis "intentionally" led players to try to defy its rules
The clinic allegedly supplied performance enhancing drugs to athletes, including baseball stars
One player who reportedly got such drugs, Alex Rodriguez, has denied such reports
Major League Baseball on Friday sued a South Florida clinic Biogenesis of America and several men associated with it for flouting its drug prevention program by allegedly providing performance enhancing substances to players, the pro sports league said.
According to reports and the MLB suit, filed in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, the clinic reportedly supplied banned performance enhancing substances to a number of current and former pro baseball players such as ex-Boston Red Sox Manny Ramirez.
“We believe we have a legitimate legal claim against the defendants, and we intend to pursue it vigorously,” said Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of economics and legal affairs.
A phone call placed Friday night by CNN to Bosch’s lawyer was not immediately returned. Previously, CNN has been unable to reach those involved in the clinic. And after the New Times story broke, a CNN crew went to the Coral Gables, Florida, address of the Biogenesis clinic and found its offices vacant.
The 14-page complaint names Biogenesis, its predecessor and six individuals – among them its program director Anthony Bosch, others at the company, someone who worked at a sports agency, a former University of Miami baseball player and a “self-proclaimed chemist” who supplied substances.
The accused, according to Major League Baseball, solicited players, supplied them with drugs and offered dosage recommendations in order not to test positive for banned substances under the league’s program.
“(The defendants) knowingly and intentionally caused and/or induced … players to breach their contractual obligations under MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the complaint said.
The complaint did not specify how much money it is seeking, beyond that it’s more than $15,000. But it insists the league rightfully deserves to be paid given what BioGenesis and its affiliates have done to the sport.
“MLB has suffered damages, including the costs of (the) investigation, loss of goodwill, loss of revenue and profits and injury to its reputation, image, strategic advantage and fan relationships,” the league alleges in its complaint.
After a surge in home runs in the late 1980s and 1990s – highlighted by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa racing to break Roger Maris’s single-season home run record in 1998, followed three years later by Barry Bonds breaking the new record – Major League Baseball came under a cloud amid allegations it hadn’t done enough to recognize, and combat, the use of performance enhancing substances.
The league, in conjunction with its players’ union, in recent years has beefed up its drug testing programs and penalties. A number of top-level and minor league players have been suspended as a result, like Ramirez who was suspended 50 games in 2009.
Biogenesis became part of this story publicly in late January, when the Miami New Times reported that more than a dozen professional baseball players and other athletes were named in records kept over several years by the clinic.
CNN was unable to independently obtain the documents the newspaper said it based its reporting on. And New Times reported earlier this month that it refused Major League Baseball’s request for records that contributed to its story.
One of those players named by the publication is Alex Rodriguez, a 37-year-old New York Yankee who ranks fifth in home runs in major league history.
Shortly after the New Times article came out, ESPN.com published a story quoting unidentified sources as describing how Bosch allegedly went to Rodriguez’s waterfront Florida mansion when summoned and injected the star player with performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs.
Rodriguez’s camp subsequently released a statement denying any connection to the Biogenesis’ clinic’s owner while disputing the aforementioned reports.
“The purported documents referenced in the story – at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez – are not legitimate,” the player’s public relations agent said.