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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MNT: A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports Biggest Names

The mega Biogenesis (eat your heart out Jim Shooter!) story.

Then check out the main column, where their real names flash like an all-star roster of professional athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A’s hurler Bartolo Colón, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, budding Cuban superstar boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. There’s even the New York Yankees’ $275 million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who has sworn he stopped juicing a decade ago.

Read further and you’ll find more than a dozen other baseball pros, from former University of Miami ace Cesar Carrillo to Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez. Notable coaches are there too, including UM baseball conditioning guru Jimmy Goins.

The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story office building just a hard line drive’s distance from the UM campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm’s real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.

Interviews with six customers and two former employees corroborate the tale told by the patient files, the payment records, and the handwritten notebooks kept by the clinic’s chief, 49-year-old Anthony Bosch.

Repoz Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM | 126 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: steroids

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   101. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4357717)
This seems to have been a pretty small operation. The article states that "records" show it was pulling in over $25,000 a month. That's $300,000 a year -- for a doctor's office? Prices such as $500 for a week's supply or that ARod paid $3500 in one entry and "is paid up through April 30" and will owe $4000 on May 1. Melky's monthly payment (? or is he a month behind on payments) appears to be $9900. The guy can't have had more than 10-15 clients at any time if he was generating just $300,000 in revenue a year. And half or more of his clients were "famous" athletes? ARod to Melky is easy enough, but a rookie C, a Cuban boxer, a fringe pro tennis player ... it's an odd mix.
   102. Derb Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4357727)
I'm getting very close to the point of not caring anymore. They're all cheating, apparently.
   103. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4357737)
I'm getting very close to the point of not caring anymore. They're all cheating, apparently.
If top-level guys are getting drugs from low-level con artists like this, to me it suggests rather that there aren't too many good sources and not too many guys are using.
   104. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4357752)
If top-level guys are getting drugs from low-level con artists like this, to me it suggests rather that there aren't too many good sources and not too many guys are using.


You're assuming athletes are rational actors. Have you seen the con artists they associate themselves in business ventures?
   105. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4357761)
Plus the two big positive tests of the last season were clients of this place.

I don't think steroids/PEDs are out of the game or will ever be out of the game, but I don't think this story is good evidence that they're everywhere. They're rarer, because testing hurts the demand side and prosecution hurts the supply side.
   106. marko Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4357763)
Arod should get a refund, because whatever he was allegedly using wasn't doing much for him.
   107. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4357772)
Arod should get a refund, because whatever he was allegedly using wasn't doing much for him.

You can't be sure as he might have been worse than Yuniesky if he hadn't used.
   108. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4357775)
From RTFA, there seems to be a lot of unidentified sources connecting Tony Bosch to steroids, HGH and other pharmaceuticals. However, so far, there isn't anything other than the notebooks that ties any of the athletes to this 'clinic'. This could be a big story, but it is a long way from admissible evidence, given under oath, that will hold up under close scrutiny and cross examination.
   109. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4357777)
I knew Gio Gonzalez's 21 wins were too good to be true!
   110. Dale Sams Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4357790)
Harold Reynolds made the suggestion that this was some sort of "Steinbrenner dig up dirt on Winfield" move. Not a plant, but discovered because the Yanks are desperate to get out of that contract. Reynolds didn't put it in those words exactly, but that was the implication....a little tin-hatty, but not completly impossible.
   111. marko Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4357796)
You can't be sure as he might have been worse than Yuniesky if he hadn't used.


Perhaps, but he should still get a refund.
   112. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4357802)
Dale, that doesn't sound at all tin-hatty.
   113. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 29, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4357809)
Fwiw, someone who may or may not know something about the Yanks said there are multiple FO staff whose primary assignment is figuring out a way to void that contract.
   114. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: January 29, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4357826)
As soon as I saw Miami New Times the credibility level in my mind dropped substantially. This is our version of the free D.C. City Paper and that ilk that loves doing hatchet jobs as they see fit. The notion of "journalistic integrity" is a quaint concept to them that might have applied to their great, great, great, great, great grandfathers when they wrote for Ben Franklin, but is just a bother when they can have so much fun writing fast and loose pieces like this. I'll wait for a more reputable source.

Proceed with caution!
   115. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4357851)
I'm not familiar with the New Times but the writing style is consistent with boteman's opinion. There are loaded phrases (colorful writing!) throughout the piece. But, assuming they did the verification they say they did and given Gio's father's admission, the story's looking pretty legit at this point.

Harold Reynolds made the suggestion that this was some sort of "Steinbrenner dig up dirt on Winfield" move. Not a plant, but discovered because the Yanks are desperate to get out of that contract. Reynolds didn't put it in those words exactly, but that was the implication....a little tin-hatty, but not completly impossible.

Not likely. These guys were linked to Manny and investigated then. The sources are primarily people these guys owe money to ... and they have a long history of owing money to people. The great Yankee conspiracy is far-fetched.

Interesting tidbit from the article:

An Associated Press investigation this past December found another reason why there hasn't been much federal action to crack down on clinics such as Biogenesis. Big Pharma has been reaping a bonanza off HGH as civilian sales have skyrocketed. Last year, U.S. sales of HGH topped $1.4 billion, the AP found — more than drug companies made off penicillin or prescription allergy meds. This despite the fact that endocrinologists estimate fewer than 45,000 people in the nation actually suffer from FDA-approved maladies for the drug. The reason is simple: The feds have stopped prosecuting anti-aging clinics, and many people believe the drug is a fountain of youth despite a lack of medical evidence and warnings it might lead to cancerous growths and diabetes.

The article notes that there's likely enough wiggle room in prescription laws that these guys didn't violate any laws (unless they didn't report all that cash to the IRS of course). The attitude of "society" to this stuff is pretty much the same as MLB's attitude towards this stuff ca 1998. Unless HRs are hit of course.
   116. Dale Sams Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM (#4357877)
A little OT but my ignorant assumption of the Spira situation was that Steinbrenner was a dirtbag who hired some guy to dig up unfounded dirt on Winfield and was appropriately suspended for it. This afternoon i read Spira's side of it and was surprised to hear that:

1) There may have been good reason to void Winfield's contract

2) No one is interested in publishing a book by Spira?? The article I read was fascinating! Surely there's someone out there who doesn't give a **** what the Yankees and their legal dept. think. Or is there more to it and Spira is just an unbelivable lowlife?
   117. DFA Posted: January 30, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4357978)
I don't think steroids/PEDs are out of the game or will ever be out of the game, but I don't think this story is good evidence that they're everywhere. They're rarer, because testing hurts the demand side and prosecution hurts the supply side.


While I would tend to agree that PEDs will always be a part of the game, I am not sure how common use is or is not. How many times are players tested? Could they be tested more often? At which point is too much or too little?
   118. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4358004)
However, so far, there isn't anything other than the notebooks that ties any of the athletes to this 'clinic'.

In fact, if you read the article, none of the employees claim to have ever seen either Bosch at the "clinic". Possibly just a (possibly legal!) prescription mill. The article notes that doctors can legally prescribe damn near any drug for damn near any reason as long as they've actually seen the patient. While it's not clear Bosch saw these patients, apparently there is evidence he had blood tests done which, the article says, might be enough for this to be legal (or at least not worth the trouble of prosecuting).

How many times are players tested? Could they be tested more often? At which point is too much or too little?

They are subject to much less testing than TDF riders. Those guys (and Olympic athletes and such) are under pretty draconian restrictions including the need to inform the drug testers of their vacation and other travel plans so they can be tested there. I'm told one guy was suspended because he was in a different country than where he said he'd be. We saw how well that worked.

Since nobody else has piped up ... EVERYBODY is tested in spring training. EVERYBODY is tested on an unannounced date during the season (not all on the same date I assume). An additional 1400 random tests may be conducted -- this appears to be multiple tests of a random selection of players rather than a single random test of 1400 players. Up to 250 of those 1400 can be offseason tests. Randomly selected in year t and you're still eligible for selection in year t+1. I think it was Bautista who was quoted saying something that sounded like he'd been picked more than one year.

For HGH, every player must give a blood sample in spring training. Reasonable cause testing can also be ordered. Some offseason testing can take place (in conjunction with urine testing so I assume this is limited to the 250 offseason tests).

"Reasonable cause" is not really defined that I can see and the wording of how it works seems confusing. It says once a "reasonable cause notification" has been filed, testing must begin within 48 hours. However it also says that the party has 48 hours after notification to request a hearing on the reasonable cause and no testing can occur until that decision has been made (which has to be made within 72 hours after the appeal). The latter seems to suggest you can't test until you know there's no appeal but the party has 48 hours in which to appeal; but the former seems to state that testing can't start any later than 48 hours after notification. I'm probably mis-reading something.

The CBA would cover the 40-man rosters so 1200 players. I assume there can be no offseason testing of FAs since they aren't actually under contract to anybody. 250 offseason tests is not a lot but it's over 20% of the 40-man roster so would you want to take that chance?

There is no special provision for the playoffs that I can find -- they are included in the "season" during which a player has to be tested at least once. Braun was tested after the season but I don't know if that was his only test that season or if he'd been randomly selected (or included under reasonable cause). I assume non-playoff players are still eligible for testing during the playoffs given the way "season" is defined.

I also don't know what happens to guys who are added to the 40-man roster after the season starts. The minors program is more rigorous so I suppose there's no need to give them the equivalent of the "spring training" test.
   119. Ron J2 Posted: January 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4358165)
I'm told one guy was suspended because he was in a different country than where he said he'd be.


Not suspended. Fired. On the same day he won a stage in the Tour (and was leading the Tour). Michael Rasmussen (fired by Rabobank)

He wasn't suspended because as it happens there was no attempt to test him in the time frame in question. Story broke during the Tour and when the sponsor got word he was fired.

It's actually kind of funny how that story came together. A commentator was discussing his intense preparations for the Tour. Reported seeing him going up hills in a driving rain in Italy (and just happened to mention the time frame). And somebody else remembered that he was reportedly in Mexico at the time -- and checked. All of a sudden there was a major controversy (I've told the story before and got the countries wrong) and he was dropped by the sponsor on what should have been the day of his life.
   120. spycake Posted: January 30, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4358368)
Think back to the drug wars of the mid-80s. The commissioner can use things that are a matter of public record in the disciplinary process. (see for instance the fallout from the Curtis Strong affair)

Just catching up on this thread, and I initially read this as Curtis Pride, and thought there was an MLB ban on deafness at some point...
   121. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2013 at 04:01 PM (#4358419)
   122. Ron J2 Posted: January 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4358443)
Further to #121. He actually did pick up a two year suspension after the event. Again, not for failing a test but on procedural grounds (even though there was no attempt to test him while he wasn't where he claimed to be)
   123. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4358751)
If Frank Thomas wants my HoF vote, he needs to come out against deer antler spray right now!
   124. bobm Posted: January 31, 2013 at 12:43 AM (#4358760)
This afternoon i read Spira's side of it

Would you please post a link? Thanks.
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