CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — None of the past 10,000 drug tests performed on student-athletes at Miami has shown a positive result for anabolic steroids, university officials said Thursday night.
The statement comes amid reports that the Hurricanes’ baseball program has been linked to a Major League Baseball investigation into performance-enhancing drug use and if they got those products from an anti-aging clinic in South Florida.
And it’s a somewhat out-of-character move for Miami, which as a private institution typically does not release sensitive information such as details of its drug-testing policy publicly.
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The statement also makes clear that Miami does not test for human growth hormone, “like many of our peer institutions, the NCAA and many professional sports leagues,” the university said.
Miami’s connection to the latest drug scandal in baseball was revealed late last month, when the alternative weekly newspaper Miami New Times said New York Yankees third baseman — not to mention a Hurricanes’ trustee — Alex Rodriguez was among a group of players listed in records of a defunct Florida anti-aging clinic that is alleged to have sold PEDs. Rodriguez’s name is on the Miami baseball stadium, after he pledged $3.9 million to a renovation project several years ago.
The statement from Miami is not attributed to any one person, though typically releases like those are crafted with direct involvement from the office of university president Donna Shalala — a former U.S. secretary of health and human services.
“The University of Miami’s drug testing policy is consistent with those at most NCAA Division I programs and provides more stringent penalties — including game suspensions for first-time positive results — than many of our peers,” said the university’s statement.
The New Times report said Rodriguez bought HGH and other performance-enhancing substances during 2009-12 from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed company based in Coral Gables. That report, and others that have followed, also linked Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun — a former Hurricane — and Washington Nationals standout pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who went to high school in the Miami area, to the same clinic.
Also named in the New Times report is Miami strength coach Jimmy Goins, whose involvement is the subject of a university investigation.
“As stated last week, we have initiated an internal review involving an employee and will continue to monitor developments,” the university said Thursday night, the same night that the Hurricanes had some former players back for the team’s annual banquet. That event was not open to reporters, a university athletic spokesman said.
Another report in Thursday’s editions of The New York Times said MLB investigators suspect that Miami’s baseball program “is a nexus of performance-enhancing drug use.” In 2010, a now-former Miami player was arrested and charged with trying to sell marijuana to undercover officers on university grounds, and police later found 19 vials of HGH at his apartment.
Miami officials said approximately 3,380 student-athletes have been tested since 2005. The university did not specify why it chose to release results that began in 2005.
“The University of Miami’s comprehensive drug testing policy, enacted in 1995, continues to evolve as the methods and reliability of testing have improved and as more drugs have been introduced into the world of competitive sports,” the statement said.
Biogenesis was reportedly operated by Anthony Bosch, who has not responded to several messages left with family members in South Florida. Bosch’s lawyer has said the reports are inaccurate and filled with “misstatements of fact.”
Rodriguez has also denied a relationship with Bosch.
Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used PEDs from 2001-03. Other players listed in the New Times report — 2012 All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera, 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal — were suspended for 50 games each last year by MLB following tests for elevated testosterone.
Rodriguez is sidelined for at least the first half of the season after hip surgery Jan. 16.
Miami’s policy is to test student-athletes at least three times a year for a large number of drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, designed drugs, barbiturates, opiates such as Demerol and heroin, hallucinogens and steroids. Any unexcused missed test is considered a positive test, according to university policy.