Questions, answers about MLB drug investigation

Major League Baseball is checking into links between players and performance-enhancing drugs, centering on a now-closed clinic in the Miami area. A look at the expected lineup and possible penalties:

Q: What makes this MLB investigation different than past probes?

A: The scope. Perhaps 20 or more players could eventually be disciplined, including some pretty big names.

Q: Like who?

A: MVPs, All-Stars, a Cy Young Award winner. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz and Bartolo Colon are among those who have been tied to Biogenesis of America.

Q: What is that?

A: An anti-aging clinic in the Miami area that closed late last year. MLB wants to know whether it supplied banned drugs to players.

Q: How will MLB find out?

A: By talking to the clinic’s founder, Anthony Bosch. After months of pressure and a lawsuit, he has agreed to cooperate with the investigation. What he tells MLB and the records he turns over could be enough to lead to penalties.

Q: What kind of penalties?

A: Suspensions. There’s been a lot of speculation that players could be tossed for 50 games or even 100 games, costing them millions of dollars in salary.

Q: Is that likely?

A: The players’ union could file grievances over each one, and it would take a while to sort them out. Even if penalties were announced next month around the All-Star game, the appeal process might keep them from taking effect until next season.

Q: Are the players talking?

A: Well, MLB has been interviewing them — what they’re saying is uncertain. For about three weeks, they’ve been summoned and have been showing up with their lawyers.

Q: How serious is MLB about penalizing some of its stars?

A: Very. Commissioner Bud Selig and his team appear determined to catch the cheaters. They were livid when Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned by an arbitrator in early 2012, and seem eager to nail the offenders.

Q: Haven’t we been through all of this before?

A: Yes. Baseball is still recovering from the Steroids Era, a time in the late 1990s well into the 2000s when oversized sluggers and pumped-up pitchers ruled. MLB has imposed tougher testing and stiffer penalties in recent years, but that hasn’t deterred every player from trying to find an easier way to get better.

Q: Will the drug cloud ever go away?

A: Hard to say. Fans, players, managers and executives hope so, but scandals keep popping up. There may come a day when every 430-foot home run isn’t followed by whispers of “is he juicing?” — we’re not there yet, though.

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