Sources: MLB wants files unsealed

Updated: September 25, 2013, 7:30 PM ET
By Mike Fish and Don Van Natta Jr. | Outside The Lines

Major League Baseball has filed a motion in a Buffalo federal court seeking access to sealed grand jury records in a case against a well-known sports physician who previously treated New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and other high-profile professional athletes, multiple sources have told "Outside the Lines."

Anthony Galea, a go-to doctor who treated A-Rod, Tiger Woods and dozens of other injured elite athletes, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in 2011 of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States, including human growth hormone and Actovegin. The Galea investigation was triggered in September 2009, when border agents found Mary Anne Catalano, the lead assistant in the doctor's Toronto practice at the time, in possession of a duffel bag full of medical supplies and drugs as she attempted to cross the border near Buffalo.

Major league baseball is attempting to unseal the grand jury testimony of Rodriguez regarding his treatment by Galea, sources say. It is not known precisely what MLB investigators expect to find if the grand jury records are unsealed, but A-Rod was interviewed by baseball about possible PED use around the time of his grand jury testimony in Buffalo. The possibilities include under oath testimony or medical records that conflict with what Rodriguez told MLB investigators.

The notion that [MLB thinks its] interests trump the interests of federal grand jury secrecy laws in this country shows you their arrogance and lack of perspective. It is also clear that they are desperately scrambling to gather evidence at the 11th hour.

-- Joe Tacopina, attorney for Alex Rodriguez

Rodriguez denied any use to investigators as he was not disciplined at the time.

A source familiar with the case said Rodriguez was informed in writing when he was notified of his suspension Aug. 5 that MLB still had an open investigation into his relationship with Galea. It is possible that he could face further discipline if MLB determines that he received PEDs from Galea or that he gave conflicting statements to the grand jury and MLB about their relationship. Two sources said Rodriguez' contact with Galea is not part of his 211-game suspension.

MLB officials declined to comment.

Major League Baseball's sealed court filing comes as a team of lawyers for MLB and Rodriguez are scheduled to convene Monday before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz in New York to argue over the 211-game doping suspension handed down against the Yankees third baseman on Aug. 5. Rodriguez is one of more than a dozen MLB players linked to now-shuttered South Florida anti-aging clinics operated by Tony Bosch, a self-proclaimed biochemist who cut a deal to cooperate with baseball investigators.

When asked about the legal maneuver, Rodriguez's camp cast it as a desperation move by MLB.

"Unlike Major League Baseball, I will not discuss any matters under seal," said Joe Tacopina, one of the Rodriguez attorneys. "I will say that we are not afraid of anything Alex Rodriguez testified to in that grand jury. However, we will not stand by as Major League Baseball tries to abuse this process. The notion that they think their interests trump the interests of federal grand jury secrecy laws in this country shows you their arrogance and lack of perspective. It is also clear that they are desperately scrambling to gather evidence at the 11th hour."

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined comment Wednesday, refusing even to confirm the filing of the motion in Buffalo.

There appears little wiggle room, however, for Rodriguez's camp to deny his involvement with Bosch. Based on clinic records obtained or reviewed by "Outside the Lines," there are at least 10 references connecting Rodriguez to performance-enhancing substances -- including HGH, also several peptide hormones that trigger the release of HGH in the body and Actovegin (an extract from calf blood that is not approved for sale in the United States).

The earliest Rodriguez reference appears in an August 2010 document for a business then operating as Body by Bosch. In the records, it is spelled out that "All programs are designed by international biochemist and physician scientist, Dr. Tony Bosch."

According to records, Rodriguez was billed $1,500 for HGH -- which was delivered by "T. Bosch."

A potential issue for MLB is that its star witness, Bosch, remains the subject of both ongoing state and federal investigations, according to sources. Bosch is not a licensed medical practitioner in Florida or any other state.

The grand jury information from the earlier Galea case, including testimony and medical files, could potentially strengthen baseball's hand against Rodriguez, particularly if it's able to prove he previously received banned substances from the Canadian physician.

MLB investigators have tried unsuccessfully over the past three years to gain cooperation from Galea and his former assistant, Catalano. According to documents obtained by "Outside the Lines" in 2009, Catalano identified 23 athletes during interviews with U.S. and Canadian authorities whom she said Galea treated in the U.S. during a two-month period that prior summer.

Almost two weeks ago, MLB took the unusual step of asking the court for access to the sealed grand jury documents, sources say. Parties in the case, presumably including representatives of both Galea and Catalano, are afforded the opportunity to provide both written and oral responses to the request.

Attorneys in the case declined comment.

Both parties, as has been their past position on cooperating with MLB, are likely to speak against releasing the sealed documents. Parties in the case are scheduled to present oral arguments Oct. 3, sources said. U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara has denied a request to expedite the matter, so his ruling likely won't come any sooner than a week into the Rodriguez arbitration proceedings.

While the motion by MLB is seen as a creative move to buttress its case, it also rubs some as overly aggressive.

"All I can really say is in pursuit of a dispute between Major League Baseball and an individual player facing review of a decision that is made, the idea that someone would then resort to an attempt to undermine patient confidentiality, I find disturbing," a source close to the original Galea case said. "There is no question about that."

T.J. Quinn of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" contributed to this report.

Don Van Natta Jr. | email

Senior writer, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com

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