They banged on doors, slipped through guard gates and flashed envelopes stuffed with cash. They hired a peddler of performance enhancing substances, paid for stolen documents and canoodled with a potential witness.
Major League Baseball’s sleuths, most of them former New York City cops, were described by one witness as “goons” with “big muscles” who bullied their way across South Florida in a quest to nail players involved in baseball’s biggest doping scandal.
In their zeal to clean up the sport, MLB investigators have been accused of discarding the rulebook much like the juiced-up ballplayers they were pursuing.
As New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez tries to salvage his career and sullied reputation — the appeal of his 211-game drug suspension was heard this past week in New York — his spare-no-expense legal team has hammered away at the integrity of MLB’s case by accusing baseball’s investigators of “despicable, unethical and possibly illegal” tactics. In their latest gambit, they filed suit last Thursday, alleging MLB waged a vendetta against Rodriguez, its highest-paid player.
Rodriguez, considered a repeat offender of baseball’s steroid prohibition, and others claim MLB’s tactics included filing a “sham” lawsuit against a slew of people who have never donned a major league uniform, masquerading as cops, friends or process servers to gain access to would-be witnesses, and, allegedly, purchasing private medical records that had been stolen in a parking lot smash-and-grab.
“Even if the players broke the rules by using PEDs, that does not excuse baseball’s misconduct,” said Miami attorney Jeffrey R. Sonn, who represents Rodriguez’s cousin, Yuri Sucart. “If you threaten witnesses and offer bribes to cooperate, it trashes the game just as bad as what they say the players are doing.”
Sucart, 51, who lives in South Miami, is on the list of clients of Biogenesis of America, the now-closed Coral Gables anti-aging clinic run that provided professional and high school athletes alike with performance-enhancing drug concoctions. That, plus Sucart’s family connection to Rodriguez and his link to a previous PED episode involving the third baseman, put him on the radar of baseball investigators.
Anthony Bosch, who founded Biogenesis, was a much bigger fish. The 50-year-old, who led people to believe he was a doctor but wasn’t one, initially denied he supplied any athletes with steroids, then changed his story and is now working on MLB’s team. In exchange for his help, MLB promised to pay him an undisclosed sum of money — Rodriguez’s suit claims it is up to $5 million, in monthly installments — to cover his legal fees and other expenses.
It also pledged to put in a good word for him with criminal prosecutors investigating the clinic.
Bosch’s cooperation, buttressed by documents and other evidence MLB purchased or otherwise collected, led Commissioner Bud Selig to suspend more than a dozen players, including two former Most Valuable Players: Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. The players all accepted their penalties except Rodriguez, whose 211-game ban was the harshest punishment. After hearing evidence last week, an arbitrator will decide whether the ban stands.