Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Gonzalez linked with PED-clinic; are we worried?


Gio Gonzalez may be in a bit of trouble. Photo Joy Absalon/US Presswire via

As announced early on January 29th, 2013, an anti-aging clinic in Miami run by Anthony Bosch has been accused of being a PED factory and the Miami New Times has published an extensive report after reviewing documents, spreadsheets and hand-written customer notes that were obtained by the newspaper from a former employee.

The relevance to the Nationals?  Gio Gonzalez appears in the documentation multiple times, along with his father.  And while the evidence directly linking Gonzalez to specific orders for HGH, Testosterone or Anabolic steroids is non-existant (unless the code “1.c.1 with Zinc/MIC” can be proven to mean a banned substance), generally speaking where there’s smoke, there’s fire with respect to PEDs and baseball players these days.  In James Wagner‘s WP article today on the topic, he found a doctor who speculated that MIC may stand for a combination of three compounds that are used frequently in weight loss routines, and definitely NOT illegal.

Even if Gonzalez is completely innocent, this report automatically besmirches his career.  Which is either a shame or will be justice.  Time will tell.  At least there doesn’t seem to be direct, provable evidence that Gonzalez (or his relations) purchased illegal products, a small light for Nats fans at the end of this particular tunnel.

Of immediate importance to the team; is this going to lead to a suspension?  Doubtful, based on evidence seen so far.  But certainly this should give players pause; what is the reputation of the clinics that I use?  Tom Verducci‘s immediate reaction is that this is a “severe” incident and notes that the new CBA allows suspensions even without positive tests.

The bigger scalp of course belongs to Alex Rodriguez, who the evidence seems to show bought HGH as recently as 2012.   *sigh*   He’s stated that he quit PEDs in 2003.  The report makes him look really, really bad.  For the slugger, at this point in his career and with the statements he’s already made on PED usage, to get caught again would be nothing short of amazing to me (he’s denied it, of course).  The arrogance and stupidity of his getting caught again would be the absolute nail in his public relations coffin.   At least the career HR record that Rodriguez once seems an absolute shoe-in to capture now seems safe; he likely misses most of his season with hip surgery (his age 37 year) and he’s averaged just 110 games and 17 homers the last two seasons.   The likelihood of his hitting 116 more home runs at this point seems nil.  I’m not going to go as far as some national writers though, who are saying they think Rodriguez’s career is over (David Schoenfield in particular).

Some pundits are already predicting that this will be the next Balco.  I think i’ve got PED fatigue.

Written by Todd Boss

January 30th, 2013 at 9:53 am

22 Responses to 'Gonzalez linked with PED-clinic; are we worried?'

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  1. You worry any time a player for a team that you root for gets caught up in something like this – nothing good ever comes out of it. So far Gio has seemed like the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even whose Dad was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is a descrepency between his categorical denial and the ledger, but that could be anything from malicious smearing (unlikely) to his Dad picking something innocuous for Gio while at the clinic to save himself a trip to the local GNC (mentioning who it was for to the person taking the notes and that person dutifully wrote in Gio’s name) (plausible), to Gio lying about being there (obviously troubling).

    It is interesting how the story is being portrayed – on the MLB network last night the broadcasters went out of their way to point out both Gio’s denial and the fact that none of the items that he was on the ledger for purchasing are in fact banned substances. Hopefully this won’t be too much of a distraction for Gio and the team getting ready for Viera.

    John C.

    30 Jan 13 at 11:24 am

  2. The biggest worry for me is that Gio’s performance will undergo a steep drop off this year, which would not only hurt the Nats but give credence to the idea that he really was using banned PEDs.


    30 Jan 13 at 11:49 am

  3. The (baseball) players involved here are Gonzalez, A-Rod, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal. All 6 latino. 3 with previous ties to PEDs. The only trend I see here is that the guys all either came from Miami or live there now.

    So why is Gio seemingly getting a pass so far while A-Rod is getting trashed? Is it because people are actually reading these reports and seeing that Gio’s notes tie him to legal things while A-Rod’s notes tie him to illegal things?

    I am concerned though with the disconnect between Gio saying he’s never met the guy and his name being in the ledger. Lets say you’re buying something for your kid at CVS; do you go out of your way to make sure the pharmacist knows the name of your son? I don’t think so.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jan 13 at 12:08 pm

  4. I’m doubting his performance will drop off frankly. His numbers in 2012 seemed almost exactly in line with what you’d expect from an AL pitcher who was putting up ERAs of 3.10-3.25 and ERA+ of 127-129 moving to the NL, getting to go against slightly weaker lineups and getting to throw against the pitcher spot at least once if not twice a game. His innings were almost identical, his ERA lowered as expected, his total K’s were slightly up.

    The things I’d be worried about him being able to repeat are his BB rate lowering, his whip lowering substantially, and keeping his homers down. All three of those stats were career bests in 2012. Was that because he came to a new pitching coach with a new approach? Possibly.

    But you’re right; if he struggles out of the gate, there’s a very easy “lazy narrative” available. My personal pet peeve; the lazy baseball writer narrative.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jan 13 at 12:12 pm

  5. I also doubt Gio’s performance will drop off much, although a slight regression seems inevitable unless he keeps lowering his BB rate.

    The categorical denial that he ever met the guy is indeed a bit troubling. If all Gio did was buy a perfectly legal supplement from the clinic he should have said that instead. I think he is getting a pass for now not only because he hasn’t been directly linked to a banned substance but because he is such a likable guy, unlike A-Rod who is legendary for being a first class a-hole. People (and reporters) love to see the cocky jerks get their comeuppance, but are willing to give a pass to the guy who they’d “like to have a beer with.”


    30 Jan 13 at 2:24 pm

  6. Totally true (on why Gio gets a pass while others do not).

    What would be really funny is if there’s ANOTHER guy named Gio Gonzalez, in Miami, who was visiting this clinic because he weighs like 300 lbs and wanted to lose some weight, and all those orders were for him. That’s what i’d like to see happen.

    In fact! Why isn’t this the approach all these guys take? It isn’t like they signed on with any identifiable information, like a SSN or a credit card number right? Why not recruit another guy with the same name and blame it on him. haha.

    Seriously though, that’s why all these cases are always he said-she said. There’s no photographic evidence, no signatures on a delivery slip. Nothing could stop a guy from just assigning fake names to all his customers (unlikely as you said). But really; you have to wonder about the intelligence of these clown athletes who keep getting caught.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jan 13 at 2:36 pm

  7. Totally agree that there’s a risk to denying he ever met this guy (which his dad claimed first, on his behalf). If Gio or his dad are lying about that, it’s easily provable. And like Nixon said, it’s the lie that gets you. If Gio’s caught in a lie about something as simple as knowing the guy, no one will believe he didn’t also take PEDs.


    30 Jan 13 at 3:34 pm

  8. I wonder what the team thinks here. For example, if Gio fessed up to Rizzo that he was taking, does the team purposely disclose this information to MLB and thus guarantee a suspension? That seems directly contrary to the team’s benefit.

    Todd Boss

    30 Jan 13 at 3:49 pm

  9. This “evidence” could not hold up in court. Handwritten notes, unable to ascertain the writer. There’s no credibility to the “evidence”. The notes could be what’s purported by the article, or they could be the scribblings of a delusional faux pharmacist.

    I’m not defending anyone named in the article. I am of the belief that all professional athletes take some sort of performance enhancing drug, even if that’s limited to caffeine. I’m just saying that Gonzalez didn’t test positive for anything last season that we know about and the evidence in this report is sketchy at best and wouldn’t hold up in any court of law.

    Dave at DSP

    30 Jan 13 at 4:21 pm

  10. Todd Boss

    30 Jan 13 at 4:22 pm

  11. I am late to the dance, but I share bdrube’s original concern that, one way or the other, this could affect Gio’s performance (that might not be exactly what bdrube meant, but it is where my thoughts went). I mean, the guy is not exactly known for having ice water in his veins in the best of circumstances. Even if he is totally innocent and this is all just a case of mistaken identity (let’s use Todd’s example and call that one FatGio – see what I did there: NatGio/FatGio?), it will likely linger in the news for a good part of the season, and even an innocent guy can feel the heat and distraction of public scrutiny. Then you get into the vicious cycle of the lazy narrative, more pressure and attention, and so on. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but I put it at a non-zero risk.

    But I get back to the discussion we had a few weeks ago: what is a PED? Why are some drugs banned and others not? I’ll have to search this out on the web when I get some time, but with the repeated news, you would think that some national outlet would tackle this issue from ground zero. Even MLB would benefit by us fans understanding the distinctions better, and why something is banned and something isn’t.


    30 Jan 13 at 5:14 pm

  12. So, I checked Major League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program, and I can’t find anything on why some drugs are Prohibited Substances and others are not. The stated purpose of the policy is to educate the players on the risks, and to prevent the use of banned drugs. Plenty of lists of what is and isn’t on the list, and the procedures around testing. Just nothing on how they came to the decision of what’s in and out (at least that I could find in there). And a check of less credible sources, like Wikipedia, doesn’t help. It just acknowledges that it is very confusing. ‘Caffeine is ok, except too much caffeine isn’t’ kind of stuff. Although if you want to read something interesting, check out the page ‘Banned substances in baseball in the United States’. Some pretty famous names dropped in the history section.

    I went to WADA, and this is the closest that I have found. Seems pretty vague to me.
    “Typically, a substance or method will be considered for the WADA Prohibited List if the substance or method meets any two of the following three criteria:

    1) It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance
    2) It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
    3) It violates the spirit of sport”

    Todd (or anyone else) – do you know of any resource getting into the why of these banned drugs?


    30 Jan 13 at 10:01 pm

  13. I have a list of the banned substances form one of the first iterations of the agreement on my computer. Will have to dig it up.

    It does not address your question (which I’ve asked in the past as well) about which drugs are “good” and which drugs are “bad.” posted today; I like this guy’s stuff; he posts well thought out opinions, often times with good science/math/research behind it.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jan 13 at 9:59 am


    Not looking good; as is mentioned in the Natsradamus article, if you look closely at the online docs Gonzalez’s name appears next to an order for “cream,” which by inference is a testosterone-laden balm. The newpaper has stated that it actually withheld some names in the documents because they felt there wasn’t enough to tie the players to PEDs. Which thus implies that there IS enough to tie Gonzalez to a PED. Awesome.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jan 13 at 10:20 am

  15. A few things worth mentioning about the “banned substance list” in Section 2(B) of the Joint Drug Program.

    First, the list incorporates by reference “all anabolic and androgenic steroids covered by Schedule III of the Code of Federal Regulations’ Schedule of Controlled Substances.” That’s an badly-drafted way of referring to 21 C.F.R. § 1308.13, which broadly forbids “any material, compound,mixture or preparation containing any quantity of [any anabolic steroid], including its salts, esters and ethers.”

    Second, the list of androgenic and antiestrogenic hormones in Section 2(B) is, by its own terms, “non-exhaustive.” That means that there exist substances that would fall within the prohibited substance list that are not specifically named on that list.

    Third, the criteria for prohibition are that the substance be “anabolic androgenic steroids” or “[anabolic androgenic] agents with antiestrogenic activity.” So, if the substance ticks either of those boxes, chemically, it’s banned by the terms of Section 2(B).


    31 Jan 13 at 11:06 am

  16. Someone else here pointed out that the “evidence” we’ve seen thus far is hardly provable in a court of law. If the best thing they have on Gonzalez is his name next to the word “cream,” then its hard to believe we’re going to see any suspension. Cream could refer to practically anything, as a lawyer would argue, even though the inference here seems to be a testosterone-infused cream substance.

    The wording of the list as you point out would be shredded by any competent defense attorney. How can you hold someone accountable for a list that admits that it is “non-exhaustive?” But it doesnt’ matter; we’re not talking about a court of law here; we’re talking about a contract between two private entities (MLB and the player’s union) that operates outside the court of law. And thankfully so for the owners of baseball, who have inexplicably enjoyed anti-trust exemption for the better part of a centry at the (in my opinion) distinct disadvantage to players and fans. But that’s probably outside the scope here.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jan 13 at 11:38 am

  17. Just because the list is non-exhaustive does not make the provision unenforceably vague.

    Look again: the standard for prohibited performance-enhancing substances is “anabolic androgenic steroids” or “agents with antiestrogenic activity.” All of the enumerated (listed) substances are examples of that kind of substance, with those chemical properties. So, if you find a substance that has those chemical properties, it is already forbidden by rule, even if not listed.

    Compare Section 2(B) with a more familiar rule: Official Rule 8.02(a), that governs ball-tampering by a pitcher [ ]:

    Notice that Rule 8.02(a)(5) says that the ball must not be “deface[d]…in any manner.” Rules 8.02(a)(1) through (4) list all the ENUMERATED ways that the ball must not be defaced. Part (a)(5) gives a general rule (don’t deface the ball). So 1 through 4 constitute a non-exhaustive list of prohibited acts, and 5 a general prohibition. As for pitchers and baseballs, so with players and biochemistry.


    31 Jan 13 at 11:55 am

  18. Fair enough. But then why bother listing specific items if you have a clause at the end that generically defines them? It seems like unnecessary legalese. I dunno; clearly i’m not a lawyer.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jan 13 at 12:48 pm

  19. Here is one thing I can’t quite get a handle on. I have seem commenters on multiple blogs talking about how if Gio did cheat they will shun him forever. A lot of these people are the same people who were very vocal about how much they love Michael Morse and how the Nats were crazy for trading him. This is the same Michael Morse who served a 10 game suspension for PEDs in 2005.

    Yes it would suck to find out that Gio cheated but no real evidence has been presented and there are already “fans” slamming him for it.


    31 Jan 13 at 3:23 pm

  20. Well, there’s also a lot of people who have completely forgotten the back story on Ray Lewis. Which goes quite a bit further than just accusations of PEDs.

    I’ll admit it; when i think of Michael Morse I do not remember he has a PED past. Maybe the same will be true of Gio. Because he’s open with the media and is always smiling on camera, people want to cut him a break. Most of the stories i’ve read have gone out of their way to say that the “evidence” on Gio isn’t as strong as against the others.

    Todd Boss

    31 Jan 13 at 4:11 pm

  21. Ray Lewis is another great example. People are talking about him like he walks on water right now and he was involved in a major major scandal, whether he is innocent of that or not isn’t the point, and he has been linked to PEDs.

    Alex Rodriguez has always been a lightening rod but he was never involved in anything remotely close to the murder chargers Ray Lewis faced but people pile on him left and right. These reporters that say he should retire and let the Yankees keep their money are foolish. Even if he is suspended he can serve the suspension on the DL and then still has 4 and 2/3 seasons left on his contract. He actually played at a pretty solid level last season. Not $25-30 mil per season good but he was the 8th most valuable 3rd baseman in baseball. So many national writers are lazy.

    I think why more people don’t know about the Morse suspension is because it was 2005. The penalties were so much more lax then and it didn’t make as big of headlines as it does now. That and Morse was simply a prospect and not an all star at the time. I think you are right that many people will brush Gio’s PED story aside because of his disposition. He and Morse are both likeable and very approachable and thats rare these days.


    1 Feb 13 at 9:12 am

  22. My theory on why some athletes narratives of past bad behaviors get swept under the rug while with others it becomes the continual, defining characteristic of their back story is very simple: likeability.

    If the Media likes you, if you’re approachable, if you’re always smiling and looking like you’d be a cool guy to hang out with? You’re going to get a pass on all your past bad stuff. I’ll throw a couple names out here that i’m thinking of: Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Morse, Ray Lewis, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Junior Seau before his tragic death. Meanwhile; there’s athletes who are surly, who shun the media, who don’t “play their game” and I think that past “bad” behaviors become the leading point when talking about their legacy. I’m thinking of Bonds, Clemens, etc.

    What do you think?

    Check out this link; its a list of every baseball player linked with any PED rumor, admitted or not:

    It only seems to be current to 2010 though. But there’s names on here that always surprise me. Rick Ankiel apparently ordered HGH just before it was banned. Our own broadcast JP Santangelo was outed by Radomski in the Mitchell report.

    Todd Boss

    1 Feb 13 at 9:52 am

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