Admissions by Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli may aid MLB's probe of PEDs

Francisco Cervelli looks on during spring training at Francisco Cervelli looks on during spring training at George Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa Bay. (Feb. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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By rushing to their own defense late Tuesday night, the Brewers' Ryan Braun and the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli inadvertently may have helped Major League Baseball in its investigation of players allegedly linked to a South Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs, according to a source.

Braun and Cervelli -- whose names reportedly were on Biogenesis documents, according to Yahoo! Sports -- admitted their involvement with the anti-aging clinic and its director, Anthony Bosch, but denied any wrongdoing.

Up to that point, all of the players previously implicated -- including Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees -- had attacked the legitimacy of the documents and denied any connection to Biogenesis or Bosch. Those documents remain critical to MLB's investigation, and with some players now verifying their appearance on those handwritten pages, that could be significant.

The New York Daily News reported that the Mariners' Jesus Montero, the Yankees' former top prospect, also appeared on the Biogenesis documents. Montero's agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, remain under investigation by MLB stemming from last year's suspension of Melky Cabrera, then with the Giants. They have four clients implicated with the clinic. The Nationals' Gio Gonzalez and the Rangers' Nelson Cruz are the others.

The Levinsons, and their agency, ACES, were censured by the Players Association last year for failing to supervise a “rogue agent” – Juan Nunez, who helped construct a bogus web site as an alibi for Cabrera. But now that more clients have appeared on the Biogenesis documents, ACES issued a statement to Newsday late Wednesday night from Seth Levinson.

“Anyone who knows us, knows that it is absolutely ridiculous to think that we would ever condone the use of performance enhancing drugs,” Levinson said. “Our work over the last 25 years demonstrates that ACES is built on a foundation of honesty, integrity, and doing things the right way. Neither Sam nor I, or anyone else at ACES, have ever met or even heard of Anthony Bosch until the recent news stories, nor does anyone have any knowledge of or connection to Biogenesis. Moreover, Juan Nunez ceased doing work on behalf of the agency as soon as his involvement in the Melky Cabrera matter came to light. The MLBPA’s investigation into that matter found that we had no involvement in or knowledge of any wrongdoing. Similarly, in this case, we are not involved and do not have any knowledge as to what took place or who was allegedly involved.”

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A source repeated Wednesday that MLB officials will interview all of the players implicated in Biogenesis' alleged PED operation, but that process may be slowed as the Miami New Times mulls handing over the documents. The New Times, based on those documents, reported last week that Biogenesis allegedly distributed PEDs to numerous players, including Rodriguez, Cabrera, Gonzalez and Cruz. Editor-in-chief Chuck Strouse revealed Wednesday on the newspaper's website that two MLB officials visited the New Times on Monday to ask for the documents, but Strouse said it could be weeks before a decision is made.

It's the second time in 14 months that Braun finds himself in a PED investigation. In 2011, after his MVP season, he tested positive for elevated testosterone but avoided a 50-game suspension when it was overturned on appeal because of chain-of-custody issues. On Tuesday Braun mentioned that appeal process as the reason for this connection with Bosch, whom he called a consultant.

"There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch's work,'' Braun said, "which is why my lawyer and I are listed under 'money's owed' and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch."

Cervelli, the Yankees catcher, tweeted that he "consulted with a number of experts, including Biogenesis Clinic, for legal ways to aid my rehab and recovery. I purchased supplements that I am certain were not prohibited by Major League Baseball."

Cervelli was recovering from a foot injury in March 2011.

Unlike A-Rod and the other players first mentioned, the names of Braun and Cervelli were not listed next to details of PED use or distribution.

Cervelli worked out at the Yankees' minor-league facility in Tampa Wednesday but drove past reporters with a wave of his hand. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had no comment on Cervelli's situation, saying the team is awaiting the results of MLB's investigation into Cervelli and Rodriguez.

With Erik Boland

in Tampa, Fla.

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