One of the biggest scandals to rock Major League Baseball is playing out in a Miami-Dade courtroom, as the heavyweights of America’s favorite pastime try to squeeze the owners of a South Florida doping clinic – and a former University of Miami pitching coach – into identifying some of the major icons in sports who have used performance enhancing drugs.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Dresnick denied a motion on Wednesday to toss out a lawsuit filed by Major League Baseball, which claims that the owner of a Coral Gables anti-aging clinic furnished steroids and other drugs to as many as 20 players, including Yankees’ superstar Alex Rodriguez.
The clinic owner, Anthony Bosch, and his business partners are accused by the League of interfering with the players’ contracts, which prohibits them from taking PEDs. One of Bosch’s former business partners, Carlos Acevedo, tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to persuade the judge to toss out MLB’s lawsuit, claiming that because the player’s association isn’t party to the suit, it’s impossible for the League to prove interference.
MLB last week offered Bosch a deal to drop him from the suit and, in return, Bosch agreed to spill the names of minor and major league players who were clients of his now defunct clinic, Biogenesis and its predecessor, Biokem – both of which operated from a Coral Gables office front across the street from the University of Miami from 2009 to 2012.
Rodriguez, along with UM alum Ryan Braun, left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jimmy Goins, the UM’s baseball team’s former strength and conditioning coach, are among several others who have been identified with the clinic. All have denied any involvement with banned substances.
Goins himself filed lawsuits last week against UM, Biogenesis and Bosch for misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract and other offenses. He also sued several newspapers, including the Miami Herald, Miami New Times and The New York Times for defamation.
MLB is also investigating Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo, UM’s former pitching coach, who they have tried to depose in an effort to obtain information about players who were clients of the clinic. Collazo has been a part of South Florida baseball circles for 30 years and filed a counter motion to quash MLB’s subpoena, arguing that he should not be forced to give a statement because he has never solicited business or served as a conduit for the clinic. The lawsuit, his lawyer says, is between the clinic and the MLB, not his client.
“My client doesn’t want to be looked upon as a rat,’’ said Collazo’s lawyer, S. Antonio Jimenez.
MLB filed its lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in March, naming Bosch, Acevedo and four others of conspiring to induce players to breach their contract obligations by enabling them to use substances that are dangerous and prohibited under their contracts. The suit also said that the defendants tried to conceal the players’ identities by using alias’ and/or initials.
Acevedo’s attorney, Martin Beguiristain, said MLB’s lawsuit is so vague that it’s clear that they are using it as a tool to get leverage, not justice.
“It’s like saying you’re charged with murder because you killed somebody without telling me who you killed,’’ Beguiristain said.