VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez arrived at camp on Tuesday and emphatically denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, saying he was "shocked" and "stunned" when his name was linked to a South Florida-based lab that reportedly provided Major League players with banned substances.
"At the end of the day, I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs and I never will," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez won a career-best 21 games in his first year with Washington last season, finishing third in the National League Cy Young Award vote and helping to lead the Nats to the NL East title. But a January report in the Miami New Times released documents that linked Gonzalez and other Major Leaguers -- including Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera -- to an anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis. Some of the documents mentioned PEDs included on Major League Baseball's list of banned substances.
Gonzalez's name appeared five times in the notes belonging to clinic owner Anthony Bosch. Included in the notes was a $1,000 order for AminoRip, a muscle-building protein, though none of the product's ingredients is on MLB's list of prohibited substances. But documents later revealed by the newspaper showed Gonzalez's name next to a list of ingredients for "pink cream," a synthetic testosterone. Testosterone is on MLB's list of prohibited substances.
Gonzalez admitted Tuesday that his father, Max, was a patient of Bosch, though the pitcher did not know until the report surfaced.
"I'm cooperating with MLB, and I've done everything they want," Gonzalez said. "I feel strong with their program and what they're doing. At the end of the day, it's waiting on them."
General manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement in January: "The issue is currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball, and it would be inappropriate for the Nationals to comment until that review is completed."
Nationals teammates, including Ryan Zimmerman, spoke up in support of Gonzalez on Tuesday.
"I think a bunch of us -- hopefully and rightfully so -- think it's some sort of misunderstanding," Zimmerman said. "Unfortunately, even if it's a misunderstanding, in this day and age, people can just throw out names. And unfortunately, they don't get any repercussions for throwing people's names out -- even if they end up being innocent.
"As far as Gio goes, we are here to support him. I would have never guessed that Gio would be involved in something like that. I don't know the whole story. Knowing Gio and the kind of person that he is, I would fully support him, and I think all of us do. Hopefully, it will be a misunderstanding and we put it in the past. Even if he is proven innocent, people are always going to have their doubts. That's the way of the world now. It's almost 'guilty until proven innocent,' instead of 'innocent until proven guilty.'"
Zimmerman also praised MLB for trying to eliminate PEDs from the sport.
"I think MLB has done an unbelievable job over the last five to 10 years to get PEDs out of the game," Zimmerman said. "I'm the biggest advocate for doing what you need to do to get it out of the game. ... I think everyone in Major League baseball is for it. I think that's why you continue to see our drug testing program take such steps forward. Ultimately, the players have to OK that. We OK'd it because we want our sport to be clean and we want the public to know we appreciate them coming out and watching us play. We don't want to give [them] a false product on the field. We are working hard not to do that."
Max Gonzalez told the New Times his son didn't know Bosch, and that the pitcher was "as clean as apple pie." The elder Gonzalez went to the clinic to lose weight.
"My father already admitted that he was a patient there, a legitimate patient," Gonzalez said. "After that, you know how my father is. ... All of South Florida, all of baseball knows my father is the most proud father in baseball. Says 'Hi,' tells everyone about his son, and that's the best I can say. Other than that, I have no clue why my name was on the list or on the notebook or anything."
Gonzalez recently accepted an invitation to join the Team USA pitching staff in the World Baseball Classic, joining outfielder Roger Bernadina -- who will play for the Kingdom of the Netherlands -- as the Nationals' other representative in the event. But he doesn't expect that, or his alleged connection to Biogenesis, to serve as a distraction.
"That's why I'm going to do my best -- just to keep it away from the locker room and cooperate with [the media] and make sure [the media gets what it wants] and stuff like that," Gonzalez said. "At the end of the day, I don't want this to be a distraction to the team. I don't want any of this to be about me. It's about the organization, it's about the team together. This should definitely not be a distraction for the guys."