Sports

Former Minor Leaguer To Sue MLB, Manfred, Selig for Misconduct During Biogenesis Investigation

Neiman Nix, a former minor leaguer, said MLB's actions during its Biogenesis investigation ruined his anti-aging clinic.

by Mike Vorkunov
Jul 14 2016, 2:55pm

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, lawyers for Neiman Nix, a former minor league pitcher who went on to start a baseball institute and later a sports performance center in Florida, will file a lawsuit in New York's Southern District against Major League Baseball, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, and former commissioner Bud Selig for tortious interference with his anti-aging business, which he alleges lost clients and revenue as a result of MLB's actions during the Biogenesis investigation.

Vincent White, Nix's lawyer, said in a press release that he believes he has uncovered "corruption" inside MLB and "mob-like activity" in the commissioner's office, as well as other illegal activities. White previously represented Jenrry Mejia, the former Mets pitcher who was suspended for life by MLB after testing positive three times for performance-enhancing-drugs. The pitcher claims he was framed by MLB after he appealed his second suspension.

Read More: Baseball Would Rather Pretend Minor Leaguers Don't Have Real Jobs Than Pay Them A Living Wage

Nix alleges in the complaint, which was obtained by VICE Sports, that Major League Baseball's investigators threatened him with criminal charges, spread false allegations about his businesses, represented themselves as DEA and FBI agents, hacked into his company's social media accounts and then had them taken down, and accused him of selling performance-enhancing drugs to major league players.

13 players, including Alex Rodriguez, were suspended as a result of MLB's Biogenesis investigation. But MLB's tactics in that investigation have been questioned. Photo by Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, the Miami New Times reported that the South Florida based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis had been supplying performance enhancing drugs to several major league players. As a result, MLB conducted an investigation and later sued Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch. Bosch later reached a deal with MLB to cooperate in its investigation, which resulted in 50-game suspensions for 13 players, including Alex Rodriguez. Bosch was sentenced to four years in federal prison in 2015 after having pled guilty to conspiring to distribute testosterone.

The complaint alleges that during its query into Biogenesis, MLB investigators, some representing themselves as federal agents, contacted Nix's colleagues and business clients, asking about Nix and accusing him of selling illegal substances to ballplayers. After Nix complained to MLB about the investigators, then MLB top investigator Daniel Mullin, a former member of the New York City Police Department, said he would use his law enforcement ties to have Nix charged with making fraudulent misrepresentations to minors. Nix also alleges that a top MLB executive attacked his company's YouTube, PayPal, and Facebook accounts and had them shut down. He claims investigators told YouTube officials that he was associated with Biogenesis. The investigations into Nix's business, DNA Sports Performance Lab, ramped up, according to the suit, after the Biogenesis scandal broke open in 2013.

But the investigation into Biogenesis, led by Manfred while Selig was still commissioner, also damaged Major League Baseball's reputation. The league was accused of unethical behavior during the investigation, including allegations that investigators paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for key documents and that one agent had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a witness.

In 2014, MLB fired Mullin, George Hanna, and Ed Dominguez as part of a reorganization of its investigative unit.

"After the Biogenesis investigation, we made a decision that certain structural changes were necessary in order to have a more efficient and effective investigative unit," Manfred told the New York Times. "Once we made structural changes, it resulted in the elimination of some positions."

But Nix's lawsuit will once again raise questions about MLB's tactics during the Biogenesis investigation.

Nix alleges that MLB's investigators were told by Manfred and Mullin to stop talking to DEA agents who had been monitoring MLB's investigation to ensure proper conduct. Also, the complaint says that Mullin and Manfred told MLB's investigators to claim they were working with DEA and FBI agents.

During MLB's investigation, Nix says that he was tied a drug scandal, which he denies. He says his facility, DNA Sports Performance Lab, did not sell illegal drugs, steroids, or testosterone. Instead, he says, he sold natural or "bio-identical" substances. He does admit, in the complaint, to using IGF-1 as a main ingredient in his products. The complaint says that IGF-1—Insulin-like growth factor 1, which is derived by shaving off elk antlers and used to help performance—has been approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but WADA's own website has it on the prohibited list as a growth factor.

Nix previously sued Major League Baseball in 2014 on similar charges in Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit. That suit was dismissed.

UPDATE (2:50 PM)

At a press conference on Thursday, lawyer Vincent White said that former MLB investigator Ed Dominguez would likely testify in the lawsuit.

  • "He and other investigators to testify that Neil Boland initially headed the electronic investigations of the Department of Investigations. Then Neil Boland was tapped to work directly for commissioner Manfred. We expect Dominguez to testify that Boland set up a system for Major League Baseball by which they tracked player will-call tickets and analyzed the information of who was given tickets and cross-referenced it with persons of interest in their investigations. We believe that through this scheme is how they initially implicated Alex Rodriguez."
  • "We expect Mr. Dominguez to testify that during his years with Major League Baseball he investigated primarily wellness and anti-aging clinics in Arizona and Florida, where Mr. Nix's business was housed. We expect Mr. Dominguez to testify that Mr. Boland and individuals working under his supervision illegally gained access to electronic accounts of individuals they investigated."
  • "We further expect Mr. Dominguez to testify that certain members of the department of investigations were directed not to cooperate with the DEA agents. Possibly even directed to hide information and evidence from those agents. Mr. Nix has been harmed by MLB's actions. An innocent man has been stripped of his livelihood and his business destroyed. It is time we all knew what happened during biogenesis."
  • "The takeaway here is that investigators directly involved in Biogenesis will be deposed in this action and baseball may never be the same."

White also said that Mejia would be moving forward with his case in the coming weeks.

UPDATE (3:45 PM)

MLB released the following statement:

"The lawsuit filed today by Neiman Nix against MLB repeats many of the same allegations he asserted in a Florida lawsuit that was dismissed in 2014. Mr. Nix's new attorney, Vincent White, has in the past made outrageous claims about MLB. Mr. White's purported source for this lawsuit is a disgruntled former MLB employee who was terminated for cause. Mr. White has been threatening to file this lawsuit for months in an attempt to coerce MLB into paying his client. MLB considers the allegations in this lawsuit, including the allegations relating to the hacking of DNA Sport Lab's social media accounts, to be sanctionable under New York law. Other than noting that in Paragraph 40 of the Complaint Mr. Nix admits to selling products purportedly containing at least one banned performance-enhancing substance (IGF-1), MLB has no further comment on this frivolous lawsuit."

Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.