05 June 2013

Will Major League Baseball be able to suspend those connected to Biogenesis?

So you remember that pesky Balco case from way back in the day? If so, that's great because we have found something even bigger. Major League Baseball is preparing to suspend some 20 players that have been connected to Biogenesis of America, a defunct anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables accused of providing illegal performance-enhancing drugs to players. That list includes some notables as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun both of whom have been connected to banned substances before, with Rodriguez admitting it in 2009 and Braun, who became the first player ever to slip out of a positive test last January. The key person in this case is Anthony Bosch, who ran Biogenesis, who reached an agreement with MLB this week to cooperate, and the league believes that said cooperation will provide the league with the information to hand out suspensions, potentially for 100 games in the case of Rodriguez and Braun.

But even with all of that, will Major League Baseball be able to dish out the desired suspensions? I believe that there is reason to be skeptical.

And the reason why I am a bit skeptical about whether the league will be able to dole out the suspensions is due to the Major League Baseball Players Association. The MLBPA has developed into one of the most powerful unions not just in sports, but in the country (which makes it absurd that Marvin Miller has not been elected to the Hall of Fame) and they have the ability to stand up to MLB and force them to pump the brakes. Just look at the Braun case, this is a guy that failed a drug test and yet he was able to get off. It was almost as if you could hear Johnnie Cochran saying this in the background, but it worked.

Also, there are legitimate questions about MLB's deal with Bosch, as pointed out by Michael McCann of SI.  It was not that long ago that MLB was attacking the character of Bosch and labeling him a drug dealer, which he is, but now they are trying to portray him as a trustworthy enough guy in order to base the suspensions around? Just how trustworthy is Bosch? And will the league be solely relying on Bosch's testimony, or is there other evidence that will be put into play? Also, let's not forget that the players involved did not have failed drug tests that MLB is basing their case off of, and the Players' Association will surely note that.

The suspensions themselves are also likely to be challenged by the MLBPA, particularly the 100 game ones. 100 game suspensions are doled out on the second offense of illegal PED usage, but it technically is a first-time offense for Rodriguez and while Braun did have the aforementioned offense, the test was successful challenged and thus his suspension was overturned. You can be sure that the players will strongly fight these reported desired suspensions.

So we are set up for a hearty fight between MLB and the MLBPA on this case, one that is not likely to be wrapped up until next season, potentially at the earliest.

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