July 28, 2014

Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez linked to PED clinic

Gio Gonzalez gets first win in a Nationals uniform at Nats home opener (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Gio Gonzalez gets first win in a Nationals uniform at Nats home opener (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Miami New Times published a report today linking several MLB players and star athletes, including Washington Nationals All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez, to a Miami clinic suspected of peddling performance enhancing drugs. The report cites handwritten notes, purportedly by the clinic’s owner, indicating the athletes by name (or in some cases, by nickname) and which drugs or other substances those athletes received.

All of the athletes were either Miami natives, involved with the university of Miami, or had Miami ties.

Gonzalez’ involvement with the clinic was described in three paragraphs near the end of the report.

“There’s also the curious case of Gio Gonzalez, the 27-year-old, Hialeah-native, left-handed hurler who won 21 games last year for the Washington Nationals. Gonzalez’s name appears five times in Bosch’s notebooks, including a specific note in the 2012 book reading, “Order 1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC/… and Aminorip. For Gio and charge $1,000.” (Aminorip is a muscle-building protein.)

Gonzalez’s father, Max, also appears on Bosch’s client lists and is often listed in conjunction with the pitcher. But reached by phone, the Hialeah resident insists his son has had no contact with Bosch.

“My son works very, very hard, and he’s as clean as apple pie,” the elder Gonzalez says. “I went to Tony because I needed to lose weight. A friend recommended him, and he did great work for me. But that’s it. He never met my son. Never. And if I knew he was doing these things with steroids, do you think I’d be dumb enough to go there?”

Gonzalez issued a flat denial from his official twitter account after the story was released.

“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.”

Nats GM Mike Rizzo, through the team’s P.R. department, issued the following statement at 5:22 pm eastern time:

“The issue is currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball and it would be inappropriate for the Nationals to comment until that review is completed.”

Obviously, more information will have to be accumulated before any judgment can be fairly rendered. Upon inspection of the notes and the products attributed to be provided to Gonzalez, it does not appear that any are actually on the list of MLB banned substances. Another interesting point is that most of the other MLB players listed in the report (Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yormani Grandal) have already tested positive under MLB’s testing procedures and have served suspensions.

These “anti-aging” clinics are a big business. As the New Times report cites,

Last year, U.S. sales of HGH topped $1.4 billion, the AP found — more than drug companies made off penicillin or prescription allergy meds. This despite the fact that endocrinologists estimate fewer than 45,000 people in the nation actually suffer from FDA-approved maladies for the drug.

They’re modern-day witch doctors, preying on the vain and ill-informed. Taking the notes at face value, it could just be a simple case of Gonzalez’ name getting caught up in the muck, guilty by association by the activities of his father. MLB issued a statement saying their investigation unit is looking into the matter.

Until more information is released, all Gonzalez is guilty of is association. These handwritten notes probably wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Without further evidence, none of these players could be convicted of anything in court. But the court of public opinion is a completely different matter, and usually all it takes for one to be presumed guilty is that association.

It will be interesting, as more details become available, to see how this story develops.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards. Previously, he wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network and spent four years in commercial radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams.  Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence.  You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP.

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  1. [...] better days, no doubt. After the Miami New Times published a report in which the left-hander was linked to a Miami clinic suspected of peddling performance enhancing drugs, Gonzalez denied ever using illegal substances. [...]

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