Gio Gonzalez cleared of wrongdoing in PED case
Updated 5:34 p.m.
Major League Baseball's long-awaited announcement of suspensions for players who received performance-enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami has confirmed what the Nationals expected all along: No punishment for Gio Gonzalez.
The left-hander has been cleared of any wrongdoing by MLB, which officially announced suspensions today but said the investigation found "no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program" by Gonzalez.
"I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name," Gonzalez said in a statement released by the Nationals. "With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game. This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my teammates, the Lerner Family, Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere."
Gonzalez's teammates said they're glad the pitcher can put this behind him now and perhaps be vindicated from the initial accusations
"He really shouldn't have been mentioned anyway," said reliever Tyler Clippard, one of the club's union representatives. "I think that it's unfortunate he was on the list to begin with. He's obviously been doing the right things. Gio's a good guy and he wasn't cheating. For him to be on the list in the first place is kind of unfortunate, but I guess this is good for him to get a clean slate."
The saga began in January when the original Biogenesis report came out, but it hasn't been a major story regarding the Nationals' season since. Gonzalez proclaimed his innocence early on and was never thought to be in serious jeopardy of a long-term ban. Still, manager Davey Johnson acknowledged it was a distraction for the team this year and is glad it's over.
"It’s just another distraction you don’t have to deal with," Johnson said. "I’ve never really been concerned about it. I had a conversation with him in the spring when it all came up, a nice talk about it, and he wasn’t concerned about it. Just, of course, like anybody else was upset that he was even linked to it. But it is a relief that now everybody knows it wasn't a problem."
Clippard echoed that thought, how the Nationals as a team can now move on knowing for sure their teammate both has nothing to hide and will not be leaving them for an extended amount of time due to a suspension.
"It’s obviously been building up here for, it seems like, all season long," the pitcher said. "It's good to kind of have everything come out with the suspensions so we can be done with it."
Ryan Zimmerman said he hadn't talked to Gonzalez about the situation this season at all, but believes the situation affected more than just the pitcher. Even though the Nats weren't overly concerned with Gonzalez's allegations, Zimmerman hopes that doesn't happen again to one of his teammates.
"Any time you’re on a list like that or suspected of something, I would imagine it weighs on you a little bit," he said. "To be cleared and be able to put it in the past and not have to worry about it anymore is, I'm sure, a great feeling. It's good for him, it's great for us, and hopefully we won't have to worry about it anymore with anyone in here."
Adam LaRoche had talked to Gonzalez in spring training and throughout the process. He believed Gonzalez from the first time he heard his denial of the report, but now has confirmation of those words.
"I think enough of us talked to him early on that we knew he was free and clear on that," LaRoche said. "It's good peace of mind for him and any skeptics out there to have it confirmed. I'm sure it's a big weight off his shoulders."
Twelve other players accepted 50-game suspensions handed down by MLB today: Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Cesar Puello, Fautino De Los Santos, Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, plus Jordany Valdespin, Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona (the final three were new names released today, not previously known to be involved).
Alex Rodriguez will appeal his suspension (which totals 211 games and runs through the 2014 season) and thus is eligible to make his season debut for the Yankees tonight in Chicago. Ryan Braun previously accepted a 65-game suspension for his involvement.
The Orioles' Danny Valencia, like Gonzalez, was cleared by MLB of wrongdoing.
Gonzalez originally was among more than a dozen MLB players named as Biogenesis clients in a late-January report by the Miami New Times. The evidence published about the left-hander, though, was far sketchier than the evidence published about most of the other players in the original report, never even specifying any PEDs he received from the clinic.
The case against Gonzalez only weakened over the next several months.
A February report by ESPN's "Outside the Lines" cited two independent sources saying Gonzalez did not receive any banned substances from Biogenesis (though he did receive $1,000 worth of legal products). Gonzalez did acknowledge that his father, Max, was a client of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch's weight-loss clinic, and several of the products named in that ESPN report typically are used for weight loss.
The Major League Baseball Players Association later revealed that Gonzalez passed two drug tests administered two days after the initial New Times article was published.
"Like I said before, I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs and I never will," Gonzalez said February 22. "Two days after the story broke, I was tested for blood and urine, and both came out negative, like I expected. Throughout my entire career, it's been like that. I look forward to handling this with MLB, putting this behind me and looking forward to the season."
Gonzalez met with MLB officials earlier this season and cooperated with their investigation. Both he and Nationals officials had been given no indication since he would face any punishment.
Chase Hughes contributed to this report.