Sports Commentary 1/30/13: Balco Comes East
BALCO COMES EAST
The name is Biogenisis, soon to become known as “BALCO East”. It’s a recently closed south Florida clinic owned by Anthony Bosch, the son of the doctor linked to Manny Ramirez when he was suspended by Major League Baseball in 2009 for using illegal performance enhancing drugs. BALCO, you’re certain to remember, was the San Francisco clinic that was famously linked to, among other notable clients, baseball’s all time home run king, Barry Bonds. BALCO was closed down for dealing in illegal P-E-Ds but, while their records indicated Bonds had been a client, there was never enough evidence to discipline Bonds for using illegal substances and he never failed a drug test. In the wake of the closing of Biogenisis a Miami newspaper has obtained what it claims are records from the clinic that includes a list of names linked to purchases of performance enhancers, including HGH. Among the names are some high profile baseball players, including former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon and last year’s All Star game MVP Melky Cabrera. No name, however, is more high profile or controversial than that of rehabbing Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriquez, who has already admitted to using illegal substances for a two year period early in this century. That admission, and the book that closed afterward, cleaned his slate. If enough evidence is turned up to validate this newspaper report A-Rod would be considered a first time offender and could be suspended for 50 games, which, depending on the timing, could be served during his time on the disabled list. Like Bonds, A-Rod has never failed a test, but there is precedence for suspending him if enough evidence is compiled. A list from the clinic, however, if it does exist, would not be enough, even though, as with Bonds, it includes dates, dosages and payments. The Yankees, meanwhile, are reportedly pursuing the avenue of ‘misrepresentation’ as a means of voiding his contract. It’s not a strong case but with $114 million still in play, it’s worth a shot. The NFL didn’t get off drug free on Media Day for Super Bowl XLVII, the doors opening for more than 5,000 credentialed media on the day Sports Illustrated released a story that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who, according to one report, two years ago used an illegal substance to help him rehab from an injury, this year used a substance called deer antler velvet extract spray to speed up his rehab from an injured tricep. “Stupidity”, was Lewis’ response to the line of questioning, but the owner of a clinic claims he provided Lewis with the spray in return for a credit if he used his clinic’s services again. The spray contains IGF-1, a substance banned by the NFL, the same substance that shows up alongside the name of Alex Rodriquez in the supposed records of “BALCO East”, Biogenisis. None of this is good news for Major League Baseball, which finally, just this month, announced a comprehensive testing policy to deal with a scandal of it’s own making that, two decades later, still persists, or the NFL Players Association, which just this week came under congressional fire for blocking HGH testing. There’s at least as much evidence that they all remain in this scandal together as there is against A-Rod or Lewis, and you know what they say. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Right now the smoke is so thick we should have no trouble seeing through it. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.