NEW YORK — Although rumors have been swirling for a couple weeks now that Major League Baseball could be close to handing down punishment in the Biogenesis case right after the All-Star break, the head of the players association said Tuesday morning it’s more likely baseball’s biggest doping scandal since BALCO likely won’t be resolved until the winter.
Union executive director Michael Weiner said he expects MLB — which has built its case on phone records, receipts and other information provided by Anthony Bosch, the founder of the Miami-based anti-aging clinic — to present its findings to the players association “within the next month.”
Miami native Alex Rodriguez, a three-time league MVP, and former University of Miami standout Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, and three current All-Stars among the 20 or so players being investigated.
“It’s going to take some time,” said Weiner, who is battling an inoperable brain tumor and using a wheelchair because he can’t move his right side. “We will have discussions about it. Then, we will have cases go to hearings, maybe as soon as September.
“When all the interviews are done we will meet with the commissioner’s office and we’ll try to work something out. Our players that deserve the suspensions, we’ll try to cope with their suspensions. Our players that don’t deserve suspensions, we will argue that they don’t deserve a suspension.”
Perhaps the most interesting comment from Weiner on Tuesday is that the commissioner’s office isn’t bound by the terms of the joint drug prevention and treatment program, which calls for 50- and 100-game suspensions and a lifetime ban for three failed drug tests.
Because the players involved in the Biogenesis case did not fail tests and are being investigated for “non-analytical” reasons, Weiner said, “in theory, [the players] could be suspended for five games or 500 games, and we could then choose to challenge that.”
Weiner said the union will push for suspensions to remain confidential until the players’ appeals before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz are complete.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who spoke with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before Weiner did Tuesday, said baseball is committed to getting the Biogenesis investigation done right regardless of the time frame or the potential impact on teams — a sign Weiner’s words could prove true.
Selig said the only thing he can say about the investigation is it is “thorough, comprehensive and it’s aggressive.”
Selig, who plans to step down as commissioner after the 2014 season, wants stiffer penalties than the ones currently in place and expects it to be a major issue in the next collective bargaining agreement. He said players want it, too. Weiner said he expects to have it worked out in early December before negotiations begin.
Selig reiterated that the Tampa Bay Rays, who have 14 seasons left on their use agreement at Tropicana Field, have a stadium and attendance problem that needs to be dealt with and warned his patience is running thin.
“It is beyond disappointing,” Selig said of the Rays, who rank second to last in the majors in attendance despite posting a 55-41 record in the first half of the season and sitting just 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Red Sox. “Look at their club in the major leagues, and it’s competitive and is averaging 18,000 people a game. That may have been OK in 1956, but it’s not OK today.”
With Minnesota (2014) and Cincinnati (2015) set to host the next two All-Star Games, Selig said competition is strong to host future All-Star Games in new stadiums. The Marlins, who opened their new ballpark last season, are obviously interested.
Selig said baseball plans to stick with alternating the host of the game between American and National League cities from year to year, meaning the earliest Miami could host is 2017. The Nationals, who opened their new park before the Marlins, are also pushing to host the All-Star Game.