Let’s talk professional baseball. Not because it’s in season, but because it’s at the center of the latest performance enhancing drug scandal. In professional sports from baseball to bicycling, PED use seems to have ingrained itself in the very fabric of professional competition. The controversy over PEDs is not one that will ever end as long as athletes are expected to maintain high standards of performance and be given huge sums of money to do so. Even unpaid athletes that perform extraordinarily often receive advertising endorsements which can add up to large amounts of money.
MLB has sued Biogenesis on grounds of scheming to provide players with banned PEDs, which is in violation of their contracts. In a break with their ongoing investigation, the founder of Biogenesis, Tony Bosch, has agreed to cooperate with MLB. He at first refused, but after the league sued him he decided to come forth and speak with league officials in exchange for immunity.
Biogenesis is the latest recipient of MLB’s effort at curbing the use of PED’s in baseball. MLB filed a lawsuit against the defunct clinic and a number of its key players in Florida state court for “intentional and unjustified tortious interference,” or rather, for unlawfully interfering with contracts MLB has with its players by providing them with banned performance enhancing drugs. In the past MLB has concentrated its efforts to stem the use of banned substances by going after the players. It seems MLB is no longer content with policing its own players. It is taking the fight straight to the suppliers. MLB is looking to hold Biogenesis accountable for interfering with MLB contracts by soliciting players to “purchase or obtain, and/or to sell, supply or otherwise make available” banned substances prohibited under the league’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program.
An Uphill Battle
MLB contends that Biogenesis and its operators are responsible for the financial loss MLB will suffer as a result of the loss of players through suspensions and the resulting negative effects on baseball. How they will go about proving that and putting a dollar amount on their financial loss is an uphill battle to say the least. Proving the players bought the illegal substances is one thing, proving they used them and the use led to a financial hit to baseball is entirely another thing.
What this lawsuit does represent is the MLB’s efforts to use subpoena power and the law to get legal access to information that will shed more light into this controversy. Most likely this lawsuit will never go to trial. The league is counting on it to give them access to information they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This will include every document and every person involved with Biogenesis.
The resulting information would not incriminate Biogenesis but would rather be used against the players, trainers, and everyone else affiliated with MLB that is associated with the use of the PED’s. Essentially it will amount to a financial headache and bad publicity for Biogenesis and its key players as a result of being drawn into court.
Ultimately, the biggest effect this lawsuit has will be to put other individuals or entities involved with supplying banned substances to players on notice. Although the MLB uses its own investigations to probe PED use, it is pursuing a new tactic in its efforts to curb that use in its clubhouses.
By: Vincent Imhoff
Vincent Imhoff is a writer and Los Angeles criminal lawyer who acts as a managing partner at Imhoff & Associates, P.C. He earned his law degree at Chicago-Kent College and his undergraduate degree at Lewis University.