(USA Today) -- Major League Baseball, which has been investigating the link of performance-enhancing drugs to players with South Florida ties for much of the last year, may be faced with its most significant doping case since the BALCO scandal rocked the sport one decade ago.
All-Stars Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, pitcher Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays, along with other MLB players and athletes in other sports, were strongly connected to performance-enhancing drug use in an investigative report by the Miami New Times.
The report revealed records from Biogenesis, a South Florida clinic, that indicated players received illegal substances from Anthony Bosch, the head of the clinic, who is already under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The New Times investigation into Biogenesis and Bosch cites interviews with six customers and two former employees as well as patient files and other documents it received from a Biogenesis employee before it closed last month.
The report indicates the players received human growth hormone, testosterone, specially-designed drug cocktails and other performance-enhancing substances from the clinic.
MLB has turned over all of its information gathered in South Florida to Drug Enforcement Agency officials in hopes the DEA can utilize its subpoena power, a high-ranking MLB executive told USA TODAY Sports. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the investigation.
Tuesday's New Times report ensnares several players strongly tied to PED use in the past, along with some new faces.
Most notable: Rodriguez, a two-time MVP and the game's highest-paid player who in February 2009 admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003.
The New Times report suggests his pattern of doping continued well after his confession, even into the 2012 season. It states that Rodriguez received human growth hormone, testosterone and other substances from Bosch.
In a statement obtained by the New York Post, Rodriguez strongly denied any relationship with Bosch.
"The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true," the statement read. "Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story - at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez - are not legitimate.'
Gonzalez, Cruz and Cabrera are represented by agents Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES Inc., which still is under investigation by MLB for their role in Cabrera's positive drug test.
Gonzalez denied any involvement with Bosch or performance-enhancing drugs in a statement released through his agent.
"I've never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, and I never will. I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie," said Gonzalez, who finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting after winning a career-high 21 games in 2012.
Former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca testified to MLB investigators that the Levinsons had knowledge and assisted in obtaining performance-enhancing drugs, but MLB has been unable to gain further confirmation from other players, who have been unwilling to talk, according to two baseball officials with direct knowledge of the investigation. They spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
There are no players, however, actively being investigated by baseball, according to the MLB executive.
"We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances,'' MLB said in a statement. "These developments, however, provide evidence of the comprehensive nature of our anti-drug efforts. Through our Department of Investigations, we have been actively involved in the issues in South Florida. It is also important to note that three of the players allegedly involved have already been disciplined under the Joint Drug Program.
"Vigilance remains the key toward protecting the integrity of our game. We have the best and most stringent drug testing policy in professional sports, we continue to work with our doctors and trainers to learn what they are seeing day-to-day and we educate our players about the game's unbending zero-tolerance approach. We remain fully committed to following all leads and seeking the appropriate outcomes for all those who use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances, which have no place in our game.
"We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information. We will refrain from further comment until this process is complete."
Indeed, many of the players named in the New Times report were known dopers. Both Cabrera and pitcher Bartolo Colon received 50-game suspensions for positive testosterone tests in August 2012, and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, a University of Miami product, will start the 2013 season serving a 50-game suspension for testosterone use.
All those players, along with Gonzalez, a Miami high school product, have strong ties to South Florida. The report, citing Bosch's personal notebook obtained by the Times, connects all of them to Biogenesis:
- Rodriguez's relationship with Bosch is documented in 2009 and 2012 and also cites the name of Yuri Sucart, Rodriguez's cousin. Rodriguez identified Sucart as his source of performance-enhancing drugs in his 2009 admission of previous PED use.
- Colon, who drew scrutiny for a controversial stem-cell procedure that aided his 2011 comeback, was charged $3,000 a month for Bosch's services as of June 2012, two months before he was suspended;
- Cruz, an All-Star outfielder and the 2011 ALCS MVP, was to have "meds" delivered by Bosch on a trip to Texas and was to receive infusions from Bosch in May 2012;
- Cabrera allegedly received a "cocktail" of drugs in December 2011 and received a supply of drugs to last him from April 2012 to May 2012, shortly before taking the drug test that resulted in his suspension;
- Gonzalez was cited five times in the log books and paid Bosch $1,000 for a package of supplements, including a muscle-building protein.
Bosch initially came under scrutiny in 2009 when the New York Daily News reported his clinic provided a prescription for a female fertility drug to All-Star slugger Manny Ramirez, who served a 50-game suspension that year for testing positive for a similar substance.
When reached by New Times on Jan. 27, Bosch only said, "I can't really say anything to you," and indicated his attorney would be in touch.