Report: Rodriguez camp leaked docs implicating Braun

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By Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Saturday, August 17, 2013

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.

Before Friday was done, another 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.

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 third baseman 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. “While Alex focuses on baseball and repeatedly states that he is going to respect the appeal process, the drumbeat of false allegations continues.”

Asked about the report before the Yankees’ game Friday evening in Boston, Rodriguez said it was “not true” 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.

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 stated that Selig overreached in his suspension of Rodriguez, would be hard-pressed to defend him for doing so.

Braun faces defamation lawsuit

In another report involving Braun and PEDs, a longtime friend filed a defamation lawsuit against him 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 nondisclosure 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. According to the lawsuit, Braun wanted Sasson to say, “the original information Quinn and Fainaru-Wada had obtained regarding Braun was part of an elaborate conspiracy to assassinate the character of multiple baseball players and agents including, but not limited to, Ryan Braun.”

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. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed,” he said in a statement.

Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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