The baseball public isn’t going to be convinced whether Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals is clean or dirty for quite some time. And they probably shouldn’t be. In a sport riddled with performance-enhancing drugs for at least 25 years, suspicion is endemic and inevitable. “It’s not fair,” Nats Manager Davey Johnson said, “but that’s reality in this day and time.”

The Nats organization, however, seems far closer to its own provisional conclusion. Through circumstantial evidence, MLB back channels and their own observation of players who’ve been PED users, they believe Gonzalez will end up in the clear.

Fans will wait until they find out whether Gonzalez passed his surprise out-of-season drug test (both blood and urine samples) taken two weeks ago after Gonzalez’s name appeared in a Miami New Times story about a South Florida clinic that had links to players suspended for PED use. MLB used the “probable cause” clause in the basic agreement to get Gonzalez to test.

And fans, especially those of the Nats, will wait to see what MLB’s investigation of Biogenesis and its chief, Anthony Bosch, produces. Will any 50-game suspensions result from the probe? Will Gonzalez, who has forcefully denied ever taking PEDs or even knowing Bosch, come out unscathed?

If he does, the final proof of his innocence, at least to the most skeptical, will be in his pitching. If the 27-year-old has the same dominant southpaw stuff when he’s under a microscope as he has throughout his career, then he’ll have more than a refurbished reputation. He’ll be a star who was “stunned and shocked” to see his name in the mud primarily because his dad bought legal anti-aging drugs from Bosch.