The Major League Baseball players union, on the defensive after a new steroid scandal erupted in the sport, said Wednesday that the league is interviewing players in a probe into a Miami clinic but urged people not to rush to judgment.
The disclosure came after ESPN reported that baseball would seek to penalize players, including New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, for ties to the clinic, which has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
NBC Sports has confirmed ESPN's report that Anthony Bosch, founder of the shuttered clinic Biogenesis of America, has agreed to cooperate with baseball and provide information on the players' alleged relationship to the clinic.
A lawyer for Bosch declined comment to NBC News.
The president of the union, Michael Weiner, said the league had assured the union that no decisions have been made about discipline.
"Every player has been or will be represented by an attorney from the Players Association," he said in a statement. "It would be unfortunate if anyone prejudged those investigations."
He added: "The Players Association has every interest in both defending the rights of players and in defending the integrity of our joint program," a reference to the league and the union's shared drug-prevention effort.
Still, the ESPN report illustrated baseball's difficulty escaping what has become known as the Steroid Era - a cloud that has hung over some of its most celebrated stars, warped statistics and tainted its most hallowed records for more than a decade.
ESPN reported that Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics were also among about 20 players whom MLB would seek to suspend.
Mike Lupica, a sports columnist for the New York Daily News, stressed that baseball officials do not know what Bosch might say or whom he might implicate. But he said the impact on the sport could be "epic."
"They've never had the kingpin flip like this," he told TODAY.
He also said that baseball's longstanding labor peace could be damaged.
"The players union is going to fight any sort of suspension against A-Rod or Ryan Braun or anybody else," he said. "This is just the beginning of the story. Again, depending on what Bosch gives up."
Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, faced a suspension in 2012 after testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone in his urine. Braun appealed, and the suspension was overturned after concerns with the way his test sample had been handled.
At spring training last year, he issued an unqualified denial: "I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point."
Asked about the new ESPN report Tuesday night, after the Brewers beat the Oakland Athletics, Braun said that he would not answer further questions about the matter.
"The truth has not changed," he said.
Cabrera told USA Today Sports: "I don't know anything about it. This is the first I hear of it. If they suspend me again, I think that would be a harsh punishment because I already served my sentence. But it's up to them."
Cabrera served a 50-game suspension last season after testing positive for high levels of testosterone.
Rodriguez, once considered a threat to break the sport's all-time home run record, admitted to ESPN four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs earlier in his career, when he played for the Texas Rangers.
As a Yankee, he has been plagued for several years by weaker performance and injury, and his $275 million contract has become something of an albatross for the team.
If Rodriguez is implicated, "I don't think he can come back from this," Lupica said.
A spokesman for Rodriguez, reached by NBC Sports, declined comment.