Without throwing a pitch or swinging a bat, Tony Bosch has grabbed the baseball headlines this week. On Tuesday night, Bosch, who ran the now-defunct clinic called Biogenesis in Florida, agreed to cooperate with Major League Baseball’s investigation of players alleged to have acquired performance enhancing drugs. Mike Fish, who helped break the story for ESPN’s Outside the Lines, joined Bill Littlefield.
BL: Why did Tony Bosch, who had previously denied doing anything illegal, suddenly agree this week to cooperate with Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis Clinic?
MF: Major League baseball brought a civil lawsuit against Tony Bosch. The Florida Department of Health is also considering action against him as are possibly some criminal charges from South Florida. Basically, baseball has agreed in conversations with Mr. Bosch’s attorney to drop the civil lawsuit and also indemnify him and speak on his behalf if there are any criminal charges brought against him. I suspect he was kind of pushed into a corner, if you will, by Major League Baseball and their investigative unit and his attorney has seen that as perhaps the best way out of this.
BL: There has been lots of discussion of possible suspensions for the 20 or more players allegedly associated with Biogenesis. Assuming Bosch’s testimony implicates players, can those players be suspended absent positive drug tests?
MF: Yeah, they can. There’s a clause in the drug agreement they have that talks about nonanalytic positive tests. In other words if they have documentation or evidence of a player being involved with performance enhancing drugs they can be suspended. Assuming they have the proper evidence — if they have records documentation and confirmations from Bosch and perhaps other associates that this is transpiring — they can make that case obviously the [MLB] Players Association would challenge that, so it may end up in arbitration, and it could be a drawn out process.
BL: How soon is Major League Baseball likely to announce suspensions?
MF: Well it would only be a guess. We’re talking now about Tony Bosch meeting with Major League Baseball and sharing information, and sharing documents. Major League Baseball obviously’s attempting to get confirmation from those documents, be it phone records, credit card receipts, shipping records, and all that kinda stuff. You’re looking at some very important stuff here in the grand scheme of things. You’re looking at baseball contracts for players, in some cases — be it A-Rod or Ryan Braun — that are tens of millions of dollars. So to just unilaterally suspend them is gonna be very difficult. And for baseball to take that action they’re going to need to make sure they have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed. And then I’m sure the Players Association will seek whatever recourse they have, so it’s gonna be months.
BL: It may be premature to talk about the potential of the Biogenesis case to create the biggest scandal of MLB’s so-called “steroid era,” but have the people talking about it that way got it right?
MF: Potentially they do, yeah. If we’re talking 20-plus players, and we don’t know if there are more players whose names haven’t been reported yet, but if indeed baseball sought to suspend that many that obviously would be unprecedented. The other thing that’s really important to point out here is that this case is different. If you go back to BALCO, go back to Kirk Radomski — the former Mets clubhouse attendant — which are two of the two of the prior major cases in which both brought up a whole lot of names, both of those were precipitated by involvement from law enforcement. Law Enforcement is not involved yet. At this point, it’s been entirely driven by Major League Baseball and its investigative unit. That’s what makes it kinda interesting.