For 21 tumultuous months, New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez has defiantly maintained he never used banned substances from a Coral Gables anti-aging clinic, that he is the victim of a Major League Baseball “witch hunt,” and that he would fight to the end to clear his name.
But in a Drug Enforcement Administration conference room back in January, facing federal agents and prosecutors who granted him immunity, baseball’s highest-paid player admitted everything:
Yes, he bought performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis of America, paying roughly $12,000 a month to Anthony Bosch, the fake doctor who owned the clinic. Yes, Bosch gave him pre-filled syringes for hormone injections into the ballplayer’s stomach, and even drew blood from him in the men’s room of a South Beach nightclub. And yes, the ballplayer’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, was his steroid go-fer.
When it was over, Rodriguez emerged from the Weston, Fla., conference room with his New York criminal defense lawyer, and has stood by his denials to this day. His attorney, Joseph Tacopina, could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
After an arbitrator reduced his punishment on Jan. 11, 2014, Rodriguez issued a defiant statement, saying “I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances ... and in order to prove it, I will take this fight to federal court.”
But 18 days later, Rodriguez gave a sworn statement to the DEA and prosecutors that, between late 2010 and October 2012, he did use substances prohibited by Major League Baseball. It was completely at odds with his public statements.
According to a written “report of investigation,” Rodriguez admitted paying Bosch for supplies of testosterone cream, lozenges laced with testosterone (aka “gummies”) and human growth hormone injections.
“Rodriguez injected the HGH into his stomach,” the DEA report stated. “Rodriguez said Bosch told him the HGH would help with sleep, weight, hair growth, eyesight and muscle recovery.”
Rodriguez also described how Bosch gave the ballplayer “tips on how to beat MLB’s drug testing,” according to the DEA report.
The secret? According to Rodriguez, “Bosch advised him to only use mid-stream urine for MLB drug testing. Bosch told Rodriguez not to use the beginning or the end urine stream.”
It worked. A test he took while using the drugs came up negative.
“Rodriguez has a prominent role in the government’s proof” of the two conspiracy charges accusing Sucart of distributing testosterone and human growth hormone to the Yankees slugger and other professional and high school athletes, prosecutors Pat Sullivan and Sharad Motiani wrote in recent court papers.
According to Rodriguez’s statement to DEA agents, in the summer of 2010 he had gained some weight and was experiencing some “problems” with injuries to his knee.
Rodriguez stated that he wanted to lose five to 10 pounds. Sucart, a man of large girth, told him that he himself had lost some weight with the help of a South Florida “doctor.” Sucart said the doctor, without mentioning him by name, could help Rodriguez get in better shape.
“Sucart told Rodriguez that the doctor was a smart guy and a guru,” according to the DEA report. “Rodriguez stated that Sucart was very aggressive and persistent about Rodriguez meeting the doctor.”
Rodriguez said that on one occasion, Sucart gave him a “gummy,” or testosterone-laden lozenge, to put under his tongue. The ballplayer said he experienced “no adverse side effects,” only “an energy boost.”
Then, in late summer of 2010, Sucart told Rodriguez that the “doctor” would be in Tampa at the same time as the two of them and arranged a meeting. It was held in Rodriguez’s hotel room. The purported physician introduced himself as “Dr. Tony Bosch.” The “doctor” part was a lie. Bosch graduated from a medical school in Belize, but was not licensed to practice medicine in Florida. In addition to Sucart, also present at the meeting was one of Bosch’s steroid suppliers, Jorge Velazquez, from Miami.
“During the meeting, Bosch told Rodriguez that he treated hundreds of baseball players,” according to the DEA report. “Bosch told Rodriguez [that former Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox outfielder] Manny Ramirez was one of his clients. Bosch took credit for how well Ramirez performed in baseball.”
Indeed, Ramirez was one of the best hitters of his generation. He had also been exposed as a steroid cheat, having been suspended in 2009 by Major League Baseball for 50 games after testing positive.
Bosch said Ramirez got caught because he didn’t follow Bosch’s “protocols.”
In the DEA report, Rodriguez admitted that he also helped pay for Bosch’s criminal defense, including $25,000 as a down payment to retain his first attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala.