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MLB Says Florida Clinic Helped Players Dope

(CN) - In an effort to combat doping, Major League Baseball sued a Florida anti-aging clinic and six people connected to it, claiming they knowingly supplied players with banned performance-enhancing drugs -- and dosing instructions to avoid detection.

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball claims Biogenesis of America, a purported weight loss and hormone replacement therapy clinic in South Florida, interfered with baseball's anti-doping program by covertly helping players acquire performance-enhancing drugs.

"[E]ach 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 baseball's drug-testing program, according to the lawsuit in Miami-Dade County Court.

The six individuals named in the lawsuit are Anthony Bosch, the clinic's program director; Juan Nunez, who worked for a sports agency; CEO Ricardo Martinez; managing member Carlos Acevedo; former University of Miami player Marcelo Albir; and chemist Paulo Da Silveira.

Earlier this year, the Miami New Times -- a free Miami-area newspaper -- published what it claimed were business records detailing the clinic's sales to big-name players such as Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers.

Bosch and others allegedly provided players with testosterone, human growth hormone and the fertility drug H.C.G., the last of which resulted in a 50-game suspension for Los Angeles Dodger Manny Ramirez.

The defendants "understood that major league players were contractually prohibited" from using banned substances, according to the lawsuit.

Biogenesis and its predecessor, co-defendant Biokem, even followed Major League Baseball's official Twitter account to solicit major league clients, the commission's office claims.

The clinic and its operators then catered to the players' needs for secrecy and assurance of avoiding detection, the commissioner's office claims.

"Defendants often attempted to conceal the identities of the major league players they solicited to purchase or obtain and/or to whom they sold, supplied and/or otherwise made available PES [performance-enhancing drugs] by not using their real or full names on packaging containing the PES intended for such players and in documents referring to such players," according to the lawsuit.

"Defendants induced major league players to purchase or obtain PES by, among other things, representing to them that, if used properly, the PES defendants provided to them would not result in a positive test" under baseball's drug-testing program, the complaint says.

It claims the defendants encouraged under-the-radar use "by providing major league players with dosing instructions designed to prevent MLB from detecting the use of PES by those major league players."

The commissioner's office seeks unspecified damages for tortious interference with contracts between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the players' union.

It is represented by Allan Weitzman of Proskauer Rose in Boca Raton, Fla., and Matthew Menchel of Kobre & Kim in Miami.

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