Four hand-written notebooks that link a pantheon of professional ballplayers — including Alex Rodriguez, the sport’s highest-paid player — to a Coral Gables clinic that allegedly dispensed performance enhancing drugs have rocked Major League Baseball to its foundation.
But there is an anomaly in those notebooks, at least the limited portions reproduced on the Miami New Times website, that could raise questions about their evidentiary value and complicate baseball’s efforts to discipline dopers.
At least two of the notebooks — written in 2009 and 2010, according to the New Times article that revealed their existence — may be problematic because some of the days of the week for the alleged transactions don’t match with the corresponding dates. For instance, a “2009” record might refer to a transaction on Monday Feb. 7, when the 7th of February was a Saturday not a Monday.
The mismatched day/dates do correspond with the 2011 calendar, raising the possibility that the notebooks, or portions, were clumsily backdated.
“The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they related to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate,” Terry Fahn of Sitrick and Co., a public relations firm, said in a prepared statement. (Rodriguez has since switched firms. Berk Communications, which now represents him, declined to comment for this story.)
“I think anyone would call that into question,” said Miami attorney Martin Beguiristain when a reporter pointed out the wrinkle. His client, Carlos Acevedo, was in business with the owner of the clinic that allegedly supplied the drugs. However, Beguiristain wants to make sure the discrepancies do not stem from something as mundane as the handwritten equivalent of a typo.
Chuck Strouse, editor in chief of Miami New Times, said: “The facts in our story and the validity of the records were carefully checked before publication. And this has been confirmed. At least four people mentioned so far have acknowledged affiliation with Biogenesis. These records are the genuine article, no doubt about it.”
MLB is suing clinic owner Anthony Bosch and his associates for intentionally interfering with the players’ contracts, which forbid use of performance enhancing drugs. The civil case is before Circuit Judge Ronald Dresnick in Miami.
The date discrepancy is not the only head-scratching element in the records. Another involves a specific date on which Rodriguez, or his representative, had allegedly been involved in a transaction with the clinic.
Rodriguez first surfaces in the clinic notebooks on Feb. 7, 2009. That, coincidentally or not, is the very day that Sports Illustrated broke the news that Rodriguez had tested positive for steroid use during 2003, the year he was named the American League Most Valuable Player and led the league in home runs. It remains unclear whether the notation signifies a visit, phone call, or other communication from Rodriguez or one of his representatives.
Rodriguez knew that day that his life was going to take a tumultuous turn involving steroids. Two days earlier, on Feb. 5, SI reporter Selena Roberts had approached him as he worked out in a Miami-Dade gym to tell him he had tested positive and would be the subject of a story. He refused to answer her questions.