The Washington Times - March 14, 2013, 12:49PM

VIERA, Fla. — Major League Baseball Players’ Association chief Michael Weiner said Thursday he is hopeful there will be a resolution to MLB’s investigation into the Biogenesis clinic and the players linked to it by “early in the season.”

Weiner, visiting Washington Nationals camp on Thursday for the MLBPA’s annual meeting with the club, said the union has had discussions with all the players whose names surfaced in the Miami New Times’ report linking them to the clinic and possible use of performance-enhancing drugs.

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That includes Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who is away from the team right now pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Weiner expects the commissioner’s office to interview all of those players by the end of spring training or early in the season.

“The commissioner’s office has a right next to talk with those players,” Weiner said, declining to discuss specifics for individual players. “I expect that will happen with respect to Gio and with respect to the other players whose names have surfaced. 

“I would expect we’ll have at least the next phase and potentially a resolution of it by early in the season.”

The circumstances for each player’s result will likely differ, however, and Weiner said the union would handle any of those individual disputes if they have to. In Gonzalez’s case, the pitcher has adamantly and steadfastly denied any use of PEDs and any relationship with clinic owner Anthony Bosch. He passed a drug test administered two days after the initial report came out and subsequent reports have said he is not suspected of purchasing PEDs. 

Until MLB’s investigation is complete, though, the possibility remains that Gonzalez and the other players linked to the clinic could face a penalty.

“But I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to resolve or get to the bottom of what, if anything, might have gone on there,” Weiner said. 

MLB and the players’ union have tried hard in recent years to work together on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, and both sides are proud that they currently have the most stringent testing program and penalties of any professional sports league.

That said, Weiner acknowledged it is a balance for the union when it comes to being an advocate for players alleged to have used PEDs, particularly because the majority of MLB players strongly want a clean game. 

“The union wears two hats here,” he said. “We are legally obligated to represent any player subject to discipline and we will vigorously defend players when there’s a defense to be had.

“At the same time, players want a clean game. Players are tired of people who are trying to cheat the system and if we uncover any violations of the program we’ll figure out the right way to deal with them.”