Major League Baseball's investigation into the widening Biogenesis scandal became more complicated Tuesday when four more players, including Brewers superstar Ryan Braun, were linked to the now-defunct Florida clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing substances.
Braun, Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli were named in a report by Yahoo! Sports as being included in handwritten logs of clinic operator Anthony Bosch. Mariners catcher Jesus Montero's name also appears in the clinic's records, the New York Daily News reported.
But it was the inclusion of Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player who last season won an appeal of a positive test when an arbitrator ruled his urine sample had not been handled properly, that created an immediate chatter.
It may or may not be significant that, unlike the previous names that surfaced, there were no specific illegal substances listed next to Braun's name. There was, however, a number which could be interpreted as dollar amounts he might have paid or been billed for undisclosed reasons.
The Miami New Times had previously named Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez and Cesar Carrillo, as well as three players who had been previously suspended for use of illegal synthetic testosterone or other substances: Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.
At that time, MLB confirmed that it had been independently investigating Biogenesis and that it planned to attempt to interview any player whose name surfaced in connection with the lab. The Commissioner's Office released a statement Tuesday night, saying: "We have an active ongoing investigation in Florida. Until that is completed we can't comment on any of the details or information that has surfaced."
Like many of the players who have been named, Braun has a South Florida connection. He played three seasons at the University of Miami before being drafted in the first round by the Brewers in June 2005. While with the Hurricanes, he was a road roommate of Carrillo and also was a teammate of Valencia. Miami strength and conditioning coach Jimmy Goins was also implicated. Rodriguez and Gonzalez both live in South Florida. Gonzalez and Grandal are both reported to have worked out with Goins.
Goins -- along with Rodriguez and Gonzalez -- issued denials last week. Bosch's attorney also said the New Times story was "filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact."
Braun also denied involvement in a statement Tuesday night. It read: "During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant. More specifically, he answered questions about T/E [testosterone to epitestosterone] ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples.
"There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch's work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under 'moneys owed' and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch. I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter."
The Brewers issued a statement late Tuesday night, which read: "Like everyone else, we first learned of this report from the Yahoo! story this evening. At this point, we are not aware of any other details. We understand that Major League Baseball is going through a review process and to that end, we would defer any additional comment to its officials."
Yahoo! reported that it had been given three documents by a former Biogenesis employee with Braun's name attached. One matches a list the New Times posted online with Braun's name redacted and Cervelli and Valencia cut off. Another shows Braun on a line connected to the notation "RB 20-30K." That is similar to how Bosch listed the amounts owed by other players, although, in this case, the number was markedly higher than most.
Added Yahoo!: "Later in the document are multiple mentions of Chris Lyons, one of Braun's attorneys during the 2011-12 offseason when he fought a positive drug test. While Braun never contested the findings of the test, which found elevated testosterone levels in his urine, a 50-game suspension was overturned after chain-of-custody issues arose from the test-taker keeping the specimen in his basement over the weekend instead of immediately shipping it to a testing lab. Braun denied use of testosterone publicly. ... When reached by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday evening, Lyons declined comment.
"The third record is a letter from Bosch that appears to be Juan Nunez, a former runner for the ACES sports agency that represents Cabrera, Cruz and Gonzalez. Though undated, it congratulates 'Juan' on 'the MVP award' – a possible reference to Cabrera's All-Star Game MVP – and continues: 'This smells like the 'Braun' advantage.'"
After winning his appeal, Braun went on to bat .319 with 41 home runs and 112 RBIs last season. He led the National League in home runs and finished second in NL MVP Award balloting to San Francisco's Buster Posey.
It's unlikely that there will be a quick resolution to this process as MLB conducts a complete and thorough investigation. However, it remains possible that penalties could eventually be imposed even in the absence of positive drug tests. Outfielders Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen were suspended in 2007 for "non-analytical positives," and then-Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer was similarly disciplined as a Minor Leaguer the following year.
Valencia also declared his innocence in a statement Tuesday: "As any innocent person would be, I am shocked and troubled that my name is in any way connected to this story. I have never met or spoken to anyone connected with Biogenesis, in fact I had never even heard of this company prior to the New Times' story. I take tremendous pride in the hard work and dedication I put into being a professional baseball player and have never taken PEDs or failed a drug test of any kind during my career. I look forward to fully cooperating in MLB's investigation in any way that I can, and will explore taking legal action if this issue is not resolved in a timely fashion."
It was announced at the Owners Meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., last month that MLB and the Players Association had agreed on expanded drug testing, which would including year-round blood testing for human growth hormone and the establishment of baseline testosterone ratios for all players.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.