The race is on: Which side will buy the most/most important Biogenesis documents? Major League Baseball, or the unidentified player/players who don't want the potentially incriminating information in league hands?
The story of the Miami-based anti-aging clinic, reputed to be a distributor of performance-enhancing drugs, has taken a fun and intriguing turn. A New York Times story says the commissioner's office has paid a former employee of Biogenesis for documents related to the case, while at least one player linked to the clinic has bought documents from a former clinic employee for the purpose of destroying them.
MLB already had filed suit against the clinic, and those who have worked for it, because of the damage baseball says it has done to the sport's reputation. Both management and player sides obviously feel there is enough value in the Biogenesis information — which hasn't yielded any major league suspensions so far — that is worth paying money to control it.
This is turning into a "Bourne" movie, without assassinations. That we know of. The N.Y. Times reports:
[B]aseball has now provided payments to former employees of the clinic who have cooperated with the sport’s investigators. The payments were for the time they provided to the investigators, the two people said, and, in each instance, were not believed to have exceeded several thousand dollars.
(Emphasis ours.) Well, if that's all. It's nuisance money for an industry worth who knows how many billions.
The thing is, if the documents baseball buys are anything like what's already been published in the Miami New Times, and elsewhere, they still might not do MLB any good in punishing those players linked to the clinic. They include Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz and Yasmani Grandal.
MLB also asked the New Times to hand over documents it had, but was refused. And even if MLB were to get its hands on these documents, so what? The New Times has published its stories. Yahoo! Sports, the Times and others have published theirs. The information, presumably, has been out there. And yet none of the major leaguers linked have been punished.
The only person MLB has been able to "get" so far is Cesar Carrillo, a minor leaguer less able to defend himself. MLB has actual power over minor leaguers when compared with major leaguers — who have entered into a collective bargaining agreement that already includes a process for punishing drug offenders.
If MLB tries to suspend a player using the vaguely incriminating Biogenesis evidence — at least as the public undertands it so far — it's only setting itself up to be overruled by an arbitrator, as it was when Braun overturned a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test in 2011. Imagine the scenario:
"Yeah, we suspended Braun again based on evidence we bought."
Some judge is going to love that.
Conversely, there's at least one player who's not taking any chances and apparently buying evidence in order to suppress it. For the relatively small amount of money spent in this pursuit, it might just be worth the effort to prevent MLB from dragging this out. And it is, like when they drag a lake, searching for a dime to drop on somebody.
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