(Adds details from lawsuit, background)
By David Adams
MIAMI, March 22 (Reuters) - Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit on Friday against the owner of a Miami-based anti-aging clinic alleging that he damaged the sport by providing banned performance-enhancing drugs to half a dozen professional baseball players.
The lawsuit filed in Florida state court in Miami referenced articles published in January and February by a weekly Miami newspaper. In the articles cited by the lawsuit, the Miami New Times identified several players that it said had allegedly been sold human growth hormone, testosterone and anabolic steroids by the clinic’s owner, Anthony Bosch.
The lawsuit noted that the Miami New Times “published what it claimed were excerpts from handwritten records maintained by Defendant Bosch while he was affiliated with Biokem and/or BioGenesis, which the Miami New Times stated it had received from a confidential source.”
The clinic, Biogenesis of America, and Bosch, as well as five others including two former business partners, are accused in the lawsuit of “interference” with MLB’s drug prevention and treatment program under which players are contractually banned from using performance-enhancing drugs.
The lawsuit also named as a defendant Juan Carlos Nunez and said he served as a link between the clinic and several players. Nunez could not be reached for comment.
Bosch’s attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, did not return calls for comment.
“Each of the defendants participated in a scheme to solicit Major League Players to purchase or obtain, and/or to sell, supply or otherwise make available to Major League Players, substances that the defendants knew were prohibited under MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the lawsuit said.
None of the players alleged by the Miami New Times to have been involved with Biogenesis were mentioned in the lawsuit. All have previously denied any association with Bosch or Biogenesis.
The MLB Players Association union declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Among the players named in the Miami New Times report were New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. They have both previously denied the allegations.
“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him,” Rodriguez said in a statement released in January by his publicist. “The purported documents referenced in the story - at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez - are not legitimate.”
Also in January, Gonzalez denied the allegations against him on his Twitter account. “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 substance,” he tweeted at the time.
The lawsuit accused Marcelo Albir, a former University of Miami baseball player, and Paulo da Silveira, who was described in the lawsuit as a “self-proclaimed chemist”, of having provided drugs to Biogenesis. Neither Albir nor da Silveira could be reached for comment on Friday.
The filing asks for “monetary damages and other relief resulting from defendants’ tortious interference with MLB’s contractual relationships.”
The defendants damaged baseball due to the “the costs of investigation, loss of goodwill, loss of revenue and profits, and injury to its reputation,” the lawsuit said. (Editing by Toni Reinhold)