Limited by their inability to compel people to cooperate with their investigators, Major League Baseball officials will open a new front in their battle against doping. They plan to file a lawsuit on Friday against a number of people connected to a South Florida anti-aging clinic, alleging that the individuals damaged the sport by providing some of the game’s biggest stars with performance-enhancing drugs, according to two people briefed on the matter.
The suit will seek to recoup money from its targets — including the clinic’s owner and a person who worked for two prominent baseball agents — and baseball officials also hope it will produce cooperation with their investigation into the clinic’s activities.
The suit is an attempt to solve the longstanding problem that Major League Baseball has faced in trying to discipline players who have been linked to doping but have not tested positive for a banned substance. After a 2007 report by former Senator George J. Mitchell detailed widespread use of performance enhancers by major league players, Commissioner Bud Selig created a department of investigations — composed of former law enforcement officials — to better police the sport.
But to make a doping case against players who have not tested positive, the investigators need documentary evidence or witness testimony. And because the investigators do not have law enforcement privileges, like subpoena power, they have had little leverage in trying to build cases against players that would lead to suspensions.
So now baseball is trying a new tactic. A lawsuit, if allowed to proceed, would give the sport the ability to subpoena records from the clinic, which is now closed, and compel depositions. Some of the information uncovered could then conceivably be used by baseball to justify disciplinary actions against players.
Legal experts described the lawsuit strategy as innovative but said it remained to be seen how successful it would be.
Baseball Said to Be Suing People Linked to Florida Clinic
New York Times | Mar 22