Steroids Go to High School
Alex Rodriguez hasn't seen a major-league field all season, yet somehow he manages to find his name back in the papers.
The Miami Herald reports that federal authorities have filed criminal charges against Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch and several others connected to the Florida anti-aging clinic at the center of Major League Baseball's biggest doping scandal. Among those charged is Yuri Sucart, Rodriguez's cousin, who's accused of being the middleman who supplied and injected the Yankees slugger with performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez is serving a yearlong suspension from baseball for using banned substances, based largely on testimony and evidence Bosch gave the league in exchange for immunity from MLB lawsuits. In addition, ESPN's Mike Fish and T.J. Quinn report that Bosch had reached an agreement with the U.S. attorney to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids.
According to Bleacher Report, Rodriguez and the dozen other players suspended last year in the Biogenesis scandal were not named or charged, making any further prosecutions against them unlikely for the time being. But MLB could feel the aftershocks from this latest case for quite some time: Quinn reports that the DEA's investigation uncovered players previously unconnected to the clinic. "Names will be revealed. Expect more suspensions," he posted on Twitter.
Those names could spell trouble for a league that likes to think its steroid era has been put to rest. Nobody's making excuses for Rodriguez, who certainly violated baseball's PED rules and is now paying an unprecedentedly hefty price. But if MLB failed to uncover more players, high-profile or otherwise, that federal officials have now connected to Biogenesis, it doesn't exactly dispel the notion that league's pursuit of Rodriguez was a witch hunt. A-Rod was an easy target: the most accomplished active PED-user -- a multiple offender, at that -- who was already easy to hate. Although stars such as Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera were among those suspended in MLB's Biogenesis investigation, several players evaded discipline due to an apparent lack of evidence. The league will have to answer for whomever it might have let slip through the cracks.
What shouldn't get lost in the coming months are the case's implications outside the world of professional baseball. The DEA insists its pursuit of Biogenesis wasn't simply because of its famous clientele; Bosch et al are also accused of pushing PEDs onto coaches and parents of high school and college athletes.
If anything, the Biogenesis case can help raise awareness of the increase of youth PED use. According to the Food and Drug Administration, almost 5 percent of high school boys have used anabolic steroids, a fact made even more disturbing by the role parents play in their children's use. It's one thing to argue about the possible influence a Rodriguez or a Braun might have on impressionable young players who take their heroes' PED use as evidence that doping is required to succeed. It's quite another to have in your cross hairs a group of men who directly supplied these kids with drugs, and the parents and coaches who let it happen.
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