SBD/March 25, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Sues South Florida Biogenesis Clinic; Weiner Points To Braun Case

Weiner said MLB was disappointed it lost its case against Braun
MLB took the “unusual step Friday of filing a lawsuit in Florida state court, accusing six people connected to a South Florida anti-aging clinic of damaging the sport by providing various players with prohibited substances,” according to Eder & Schmidt of the N.Y. TIMES. The suit is “one of the more aggressive moves that Major League Baseball has taken in an attempt to combat doping in its game, and it could open the door for officials in other sports to file similar suits against those who they think provided their players with banned drugs.” The suit was “filed against the clinic, Biogenesis of America; a predecessor company called Biokem that operated out of the same office; and six people connected to the clinic.” While legal experts are giving MLB “credit for developing a new strategy through the use of a lawsuit, some are skeptical it will succeed because of the difficulties in litigating such matters” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/23). USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale noted the complaint "charges that Anthony Bosch, in his role as program director of Biogenesis and Biokem, provided performance-enhancing drugs to players, and personally administered the drugs to players at their homes or hotel rooms.” Juan Carlos Nunez, a former employee of agents Sam and Seth Levinson, is charged with having “solicited, sold, supplied, or otherwise made available” PEDs to players from Biogenesis or Biokem. MLB's attorneys believe the suit “has a legitimate claim, and that a judgment that shows interference against the contract, could be extremely beneficial for the sport in the future.” They also could “benefit if those connected to the Biogenesis and Biokem clinics are now forced to fully cooperate with its investigators, perhaps leading to widespread suspensions.” A source said that there are “at least 90 players whose names appear in the Biogenesis clinical records” (USATODAY.com, 3/22).

END GAME? In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt wrote the suit is “being viewed as another attempt by MLB to get cooperation in its investigation of the clinic.” The league “does not have subpoena power and otherwise would need documentary evidence or witness testimony to suspend a player for using PEDs.” MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner on Friday said, "They believe it necessary to enforce their contract with us, the Joint Drug Agreement. The allegations are those individuals interfered with that contract and we'll see where the lawsuit goes.” Weiner said MLB is "disappointed" they lost the case involving Brewers LF Ryan Braun. He added, "But they're professionals. ... We've lost cases that we fought and were disappointed, and players ended up sitting out for 50 games. I expect MLB is going to be professional with respect to all of the players whose names have surfaced in connection with the Biogenesis thing. Ryan is included” (JSONLINE.com, 3/22). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Jeff Blair wrote the suit “seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to extract a pound of flesh from Ryan Braun.” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has “chosen a strange time to pick a fight that is not a legal slam-dunk, a little more than a week from the start of the regular season.” Selig also is “taking a run at the star player on the team his family used to own, the Brewers, in a city in which he still lives, Milwaukee.” Blair wrote what the league “really wants is documentation that will allow it to hammer Braun.” MLB must be “doing boffo business for Selig to be this emboldened” (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/23).
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