NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s No. 2 executive testified that the sport wasn’t concerned if the head of a Florida clinic distributed performance-enhancing drugs to minors because MLB’s sole interest was his relationship with players under investigation, a person familiar with the Alex Rodriguez grievance hearing told The Associated Press.
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred testified this week and was asked by Rodriguez’s lawyers about documents indicating Biogenesis of America founder Anthony Bosch had given PEDs to high school students, the person said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the testimony is confidential.
Manfred said he assumed, based on documents in MLB’s possession and media reports, that Bosch had distributed illegal substances to minors, but he never asked Bosch about it. Manfred also said MLB was interested only in possible criminal activity involving players, the person said.
Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB’s investigation, and 14 players were suspended this summer.
Rodriguez drew the harshest penalty, a 211-game suspension announced Aug. 5. The players’ association filed a grievance to overturn the suspension of the New York Yankees third baseman. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has presided over eight days of hearings, with the case to resume the week of Nov. 18.
Federal and Florida authorities have begun investigations of the now-closed clinic.
As part of a June 3 agreement between Bosch and MLB, part of which was read to the AP, MLB promised to inform federal and state law enforcement agencies of Bosch’s cooperation and its value in ridding baseball of PEDs.
Manfred accused the person familiar with the grievance of mischaracterizing his testimony and of violating a confidentiality order.
“What I testified to was that our sole obligation was to determine whether players had violated the Basic Agreement and the Joint Drug Agreement and the enforcement of laws,” he said by telephone Saturday. “Baseball has been a leader through its support of the Taylor Hooton Foundation in preventing steroid abuse by young people, and we are proud of our track record in that regard.”
The Daily News reported Saturday that Rodriguez paid $305,000 for evidence, an allegation denied by a spokesman for the three-time AL MVP. The newspaper said Rodriguez and his representatives confirmed the payments during testimony.
Citing an unidentified source familiar the proceedings, the News reported Rodriguez and his surrogates spent the money to purchase evidence that included videotapes, documents and affidavits.
“It’s not true and as usual not only are certain parties leaking information but they are leaking false information,” Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said in an email to the AP.
Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis associate who gave the Miami New Times documents last winter that sparked Major League Baseball’s investigation, said in July he turned down MLB’s $125,000 offer for evidence but he did receive $5,500 in cash.