MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers all-star leftfielder Ryan Braun quickly stepped forward with an explanation Tuesday night after a report linked him to a Miami clinic alleged to have sold performance-enhancing drugs to several baseball players.
Yahoo! Sports reported it obtained three documents from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that contained Braun’s name, and said Major League Baseball would investigate the link to the 2011 National League most valuable player.
But, unlike the earlier Miami New Times report that cited several players including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Yahoo! Sports said Braun’s name was not listed next to any specific PEDs.
Braun, 29, issued a statement explaining the link to Anthony Bosch, who operated the now defunct clinic. Braun said his lawyers were doing research to aid the appeal of his positive test for elevated testosterone after the 2011 season, which was overturned by an arbitration panel over chain-of-custody issues.
“During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant,” Braun said. “More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio (testosterone to epitesosterone) and possibilities of tampering with samples.
“There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘money’s owed’ and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch. I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”
Braun referred to multiple mentions in the Biogenesis logs to Chris Lyons, one of the attorneys on his defense team, as well as the coded “RB 20-30 K” next to his name on one of the documents. That code was interpreted to mean $20,000 to $30,000, though there was no mention to what that sum of money pertained.
News of Braun’s supposedly confidential positive test leaked after the 2011 season along with his appeal of a looming 50-game suspension. Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in his favor after hearing that collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. kept Braun’s urine sample in the basement of his home over the weekend after saying he could not find an open FedEx office on a Saturday evening.
MLB issued a press release after that ruling saying it “vehemently” disagreed with Das’ judgment. MLB officials later exercised their right to fire Das as the sport’s independent arbitrator, and worked with the players’ union to tighten the collection language in the joint drug agreement to assure there would be no further chain-of-custody disputes.
When the Miami New Times broke the Biogenesis link to baseball players last week, it listed Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, Cesar Carrillo, Yasmani Grandal, Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz as players receiving PEDs from Bosch at the clinic. Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were suspended for 50 games by MLB after testing positive for elevated testosterone during the 2012 season.
Rodriguez and Gonzalez quickly issued statements saying they had no link to Bosch, though a later report said the clinic operator directly injected Rodriguez with PEDs.
Braun’s name was not mentioned in the Miami New Times report. But, in addition to Braun, Yahoo! Sports named Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Baltimore third baseman Danny Valencia as being on the clinic’s logs. Miami New Times editor-in-chief Chuck Strouse told Yahoo! Sports the newspaper chose not to include all of the names of major-league players in Bosch’s ledger because it couldn’t confirm enough details to link them to PED use.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin issued a statement after the Braun report surfaced, saying, “Like everyone else, we first learned of this report from the Yahoo! story this evening. At this point, we are not aware of any other details. We understand that Major League Baseball is going through a review process and to that end, we would defer any additional comment to its officials.”
Braun likely will get the chance to live up to his pledge to cooperate with any inquiry. MLB is conducting its own investigation into the Biogenesis clinic and has requested that the Miami New Times turn over all of its documentation. MLB is not ruling out further punishment of players beyond suspensions already levied.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said the commissioner’s office was aware of the Braun report but would have no comment on it.
“We have an active investigation ongoing in Florida,” said Courtney. “Until that is completed, we can’t comment on any of the details or information that surfaced.”
Upon seeing Braun’s explanation for his name being in the clinic’s logs, MLB investigators are certain to ask his attorneys to provide proof that Bosch was used merely as a consultant for his appeal, including dates and forms of payment. Such proof would back Braun’s claim that he has nothing to hide.
Investigators also will seek to interview Bosch regarding his reported link to all of the players, not just Braun.
Beyond that, MLB is said to have a keen interest in the University of Miami connection to Biogenesis. Braun played for Miami for three years before being selected in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Brewers.
The Miami New Times report prominently mentioned Jimmy Goins, the strength and conditioning coach for the Miami baseball team. Goins subsequently denied any connection to Bosch or PED distribution.
Carrillo was identified by Yahoo! Sports as Braun’s road roommate at Miami and Valencia also played for the Hurricanes during that period.
Beyond the MLB investigation, federal agents reportedly are interested in examining the clinic’s records and could pursue legal action. The federal government has shown interest in such prosecutions in the past, most famously in the cases of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Before word of Braun’s positive test in October 2011 leaked, he was voted the NL MVP. That season, he batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases in 150 games for the Brewers, who won the NL Central crown.
Under intense scrutiny and pressure to prove he needed no banned substances to succeed, Braun put together a 2012 season that was equally impressive, batting .319 with a league-leading 41 homers, 112 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 154 games.
Braun finished a distant second in the MVP race to San Francisco catcher Buster Posey after some debate about whether his overturned drug test would be counted against him by voting baseball writers.
Appearing at the “Brewers OnDeck” fan event two Sundays ago in Milwaukee, Braun talked about how nice it was to have a peaceful offseason after dealing with leaked reports of his positive drug test the previous winter.
“It’s just nice to be able to relax, to have a regular schedule, a regular routine, know exactly what I’m getting myself into,” Braun said that day. “More than anything else, it’s far more relaxing.”