MILWAUKEE -- Apparently, there is no honor among drug cheats.
According to a report Friday by CBS' "60 Minutes" program, members of Alex Rodriguez's "inner circle" leaked documents that implicated the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun and other players in using performance-enhancing drugs obtained from the Florida-based Biogenesis clinic.
Later in the day, a report surfaced that Braun was being sued for defamation by a longtime friend who also accused him of using PEDs as far back as his playing days with the University of Miami.
Before the day was done, yet another report -- this one by USA Today -- said people familiar with Braun's plans indicated he was preparing to "soon admit" that he used PEDs during the 2011 season, give the reasons why and publicly apologize for his lies and deception. That report did not indicate the format in which Braun would apologize or if he would answer questions from the media.
That report referenced "a statement" in which Braun would finally admit guilt and said he already had begun the process of apologizing to baseball officials.
Citing unidentified sources, the CBS news show indicated the leak by Rodriguez's people occurred in February, days after the Miami New Times published documents implicating the New York Yankees' star in the Biogenesis scandal. In those documents, the names of Braun, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia were redacted.
"60 Minutes" reported that members of Rodriguez's camp obtained unredacted versions and leaked them to Yahoo! Sports.
CBS did not indicate what the motivation would be for Rodriguez to reveal Braun, Cervelli and Valencia as PED buyers from Biogenesis. Was it to drag others down with him? An attempt to turn the trail of evidence away from him and cast a wider net?
Rodriguez's lawyer, David Cornwell, who previously represented Braun in his successful appeal of a positive drug test from October 2011, denied the allegations to "60 Minutes."
"The allegations are untrue and are another attempt to harm Alex -- this time by driving a wedge between Alex and other players in the game," Cornwell said in a statement to the show.
Asked about the report before the Yankees' game Friday evening in Boston, Rodriguez insisted "it never happened" and said he contacted Cervelli earlier in the day to tell him so. Rodriguez said he had not spoken to Braun.
An effort to contact Braun's representatives at Creative Artists Agency was not successful.
Braun was the first player connected to Biogenesis to be suspended, accepting a season-ending 65-game ban for violations of the Major League Baseball drug program as well as "detrimental conduct" under the Basic Agreement. Twelve other players, including Cervelli, later accepted 50-game suspensions without appeal. Valencia was cleared in the MLB investigation.
The office of Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games through the 2014 season, citing multiple violations of the drug policy, including the use of synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone "over the course of multiple years," as well as Basic Agreement misconduct for trying to obstruct the Biogenesis investigation. Rodriguez appealed the ban and is playing for the Yankees until his case is heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who is not expected to make a ruling until after the regular season.
If MLB has proof that Rodriguez's people leaked names of other players to the media, it could augment evidence presented against him at his appeal. Assuming he knew what his "inner circle" was doing, it would violate the drug program, which specifies that all names of possible violators remain confidential until the process plays out.
That scenario would put the players union in a difficult spot in defending Rodriguez. The labor agreement allows the commissioner to suspend a player for "just cause" in such matters. The union, which said Selig overreached in his suspension of Rodriguez, would be hard-pressed to defend him for doing so.
MLB had evidence that Rodriguez's camp purchased certain Biogenesis documents but investigators thought it was primarily to keep them out of their hands. Now they have a more damning report to introduce at his appeal hearing, expected to take place at the end of the month or early September.
Texas' Nelson Cruz, Detroit's Jhonny Peralta and San Diego's Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece when MLB disciplined 13 players for their relationship to Biogenesis, a supposed anti-aging clinic run by Tony Bosch, who later struck a deal to cooperate with the investigation.
In another report involving Braun and PEDs, a longtime friend filed a defamation lawsuit against him in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with claims that Braun was doping while playing for Miami and also committed academic fraud there.
ESPN reported that Ralph Sasson, 29, charges in the lawsuit that Braun defamed him after he provided help in Braun's successful drug test appeal. Sasson claims he was contacted by Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, in November 2011 after Braun was notified that he had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Sasson said part of his assignment was to conduct a background research on the man who collected Braun's urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr. Braun won his appeal by challenging the two-day delay of Laurenzi in shipping that sample to the testing lab.
Sasson says in the lawsuit that he was forced to threaten Braun and Balelo with legal action in order to recover $5,000 he says was promised, finally getting paid last year only when he agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But Sasson charges that Braun violated that agreement when he made what Sasson calls defamatory statements about him to undisclosed parties. Sasson asks for unspecified damages in the complaint.
The lawsuit also claims that Braun asked Sasson to "prank call" ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada, who was working with reporter T.J. Quinn on a story in December 2011 that Braun failed a PED test, and feed him misleading information.
Sasson says in the lawsuit that he refused that request. Braun's attorney, Howard Weitzman, rejected the claims.
"This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan's recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions. The factual allegations and the legal claims have absolutely no merit," Weitzman said in a statement.
Before the Brewers played Cincinnati at Miller Park on Friday evening, manager Ron Roenicke said he spoke earlier in the day with Braun on the telephone.
Asked if he expected Braun to resurface at some point before the end of the season, Roenicke said, "I don't know if he's going to reappear here....We didn't talk about that."
As for the possibility of Braun addressing his situation with the media at some point, Roenicke said, "That was part of the discussion."
Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.
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