Even as Major League Baseball continues its investigation into allegations that the now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic supplied illegal performance-enhancing substances to nearly two dozen players, multiple reports surfaced Tuesday suggesting that suspensions could be announced by the end of the month.
According to ESPN: "Commissioner Bud Selig's office is expected to suspend (Brewers left fielder Ryan) Braun and (Yankees third baseman Alex) Rodriguez, along with as many as 20 players sometime after next week's All-Star break." The story was attributed to "several sources" to the sports network's "Outside the Lines."
According to the New York Daily News: "Any suspensions baseball announces would not come before the All-Star Game Tuesday at Citi Field, according to a baseball source. However, the suspensions are expected 'definitely before the end of the season,' the source said, and possibly much sooner."
League spokesperson Pat Courtney characterized that part of the report as premature.
"We are still in the midst of an active investigation," Courtney said.
Both outlets reported that Braun, who has denied using PEDs, declined to answer questions from MLB investigators on June 29 about his links to Biogenesis and clinic operator Anthony Bosch and that Rodriguez is expected to be questioned this week. The Daily News added that the sit-down with A-Rod is expected to take place Friday in Tampa and that 10 players have declined to answer questions from baseball's investigators.
Both publications suggest that harsh, wide-ranging penalties are looming even while conceding that there is at a least one more interview to be conducted.
Per ESPN: "Sources said the Commissioner's Office was considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, even though neither player was previously suspended for violating MLB's drug policy.
"The argument, one source said, would be that they -- and possibly other players -- committed multiple offenses by receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and by lying about it. Bosch's attorneys have met repeatedly with MLB officials over the past month, turning over numerous documents to substantiate his connection to the players named in company documents, sources have said."
Braun returned to the Brewers' lineup on Tuesday after a month-long stint on the disabled list for a right hand injury.
"In regards to that whole crazy situation, the truth still hasn't changed," Braun said after going 1-for-3 in the Brewers' 2-0 win over the Reds. "I'm still going to continue to respect the process and not discuss anything in the media. Beyond that, the vast majority of stories that have come out are inaccurate. But aside from that I'm not going to say anything else tonight."
Pressed on that, Braun would not say whether Tuesday's story was inaccurate.
"Just the vast majority of stories that have come out are definitely inaccurate," he said.
The Daily News said its sources have said MLB has "ample evidence" that Rodriguez, currently on a rehab assignment coming off hip surgery, has been involved in banned substances and could even consider a lifetime ban. Other sources, however, told the paper that A-Rod believes he has a strong defense and will be exonerated.
Bosch reportedly has been cooperating with baseball's investigation in exchange for MLB agreeing to drop its lawsuit against him, indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation, provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that may bring charges against him.
Other players who have been publicly linked to Biogenesis include Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello, Fernando Martinez, Everth Cabrera, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto. The names of Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the spokesperson for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano's foundation were also found among the records, although it is generally believed that they will not be implicated.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.