Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun's name is in records of the Miami-area clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a rash of baseball players, and Major League Baseball will investigate the link to the former MVP who tested positive for illegal synthetic testosterone during the 2011 postseason.
Three of the Biogenesis clinic records obtained by Yahoo! Sports show Braun's name. Unlike the players named by the Miami New Times in its report that blew open the Biogenesis case, Braun's name is not listed next to any specific PEDs. Braun said his attorneys retained the clinic's operator, Anthony Bosch, as a consultant during his appeal for the positive test.
"I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch," Braun said. "I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter."
MLB is investigating the Biogenesis clinic and Bosch to determine the breadth of his alleged PED dispersal throughout the sport. The league could pursue punishment through non-analytical positives – evidentiary links to players without positive tests – and one source said it will not limit the potential discipline to those whose names are surfacing for the first time, meaning those who have faced suspensions in the past could again be tried.
Braun is on a list that includes Alex Rodriguez,Melky Cabrera and Cesar Carrillo, who the New Times reported received PEDs from Bosch. Also on the list are New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia, who weren't listed near PEDs either. The record matches a document the New Times posted with Braun's name redacted and Cervelli and Valencia's cut off.
"Following my foot injury in March 2011, I consulted with a number of experts, including Biogenesis clinic, for legal ways to aid my rehab and recovery," Cervelli said in a statement. "I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by MLB.''
In a statement, Valencia denied involvement with the clinic and said he would cooperate with MLB's investigation.
"I am shocked and troubled that my name is in any way connected to this story," Valencia said in the statement. "I have never met or spoken to anyone connected with Biogenesis."
Why Braun's name was sandwiched among three alleged users' was not explained by his statement. He referenced his presence on another document, which lists his name along with "RB 20-30K" – explained by Braun's statement as "a dispute over compensation for Bosch's work." Later in the document are multiple mentions of Chris Lyons, one of Braun's attorneys during the 2011-12 offseason when he fought the positive test. When reached by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday evening, Lyons declined comment. David Cornwell, another of Braun's attorney's, has worked with baseball and football players facing suspensions for PEDs.
"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 [testosterone-to-epitestosterone] ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples."
The nature of their previous relationship is unclear. Sources questioned why Braun, who retained doctors with intimate knowledge of drug testing as experts in his arbitration case, would use Bosch, who was portrayed by the New Times as a rogue chemist and anti-aging guru who passed himself off as a doctor even though he had no medical degree.
While Braun never contested the findings of the test, which found elevated testosterone levels in his urine, a 50-game suspension was overturned after chain-of-custody issues arose from the test-taker keeping the specimen in his basement over the weekend instead of immediately shipping it to a testing lab. Braun denied use of testosterone publicly.
The early portion of MLB's investigation has focused on the web of connections to the University of Miami, where Braun attended college. Carrillo, a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers organization, was Braun's road roommate for three years. Jimmy Goins, a strength-and-conditioning coach at the school and alleged client of Bosch's, worked with Braun during his three years at Miami. Goins has denied a connection to Bosch.
At least two others implicated by the New Times – Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal – have worked with Goins. Grandal, Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, all listed in Bosch's records, were suspended by MLB after testing positive for testosterone this season. MLB is considering pursuing further discipline against them, particularly if the league can acquire records that tie players to PEDs on different dates than their positive tests.
Two league officials met with New Times editors in Miami on Monday hopeful the newspaper would turn over the documents, which would aid an investigation and potential arbitration hearings if the league were to pursue suspensions. While the newspaper did not give the records to MLB, it is still considering doing so, according to two sources.
Braun's acknowledgement of the documents' veracity could quell speculation, including from some accused players, of the legitimacy of the records.
The third record is a letter from Bosch that appears to be to Juan Nunez, a former runner for the ACES sports agency that represents Cabrera, Cruz and Gonzalez. Though undated, it congratulates "Juan" on "the MVP award" – a possible reference to Cabrera's All-Star Game MVP – and continues: "This smells like the 'Braun' advantage."
Braun's name does not appear in the document on the New Times' website.
The players as well as Bosch issued blanket denials in the aftermath of the New Times report. Rodriguez said in a statement he was never treated by Bosch and "(t)he purported documents referenced in the story – at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez – are not legitimate." Rodriguez also denied an ESPN.com report that Bosch had personally injected him.
In a statement, Gonzalez said: "I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances provided by him." Attorneys representing Cruz said: "To the extent these allegations and inferences refer to Nelson, they are denied."
Bosch's attorney said the New Times story was "filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact."
Braun has eight years and more than $130 million remaining on his current contract. He finished second in NL MVP voting last season after hitting a league-leading 41 home runs.