As A-Rod's alleged doping pattern is revealed, MLB turns up heat
The notebooks reported to belong to Florida wellness clinician Tony Bosch connect New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a staggering array of drugs and supplements to be used literally morning, noon and night and through multiple delivery systems, including lozenges, creams and injections. Those notes, parts of which the Miami New Times have published online, provide the road map Major League Baseball investigators have begun to follow.
A contingent of MLB officials met in Miami on Monday with New Times staff members to learn more about the notebooks, how they were acquired, the names of other players not named in the report and the possibility of the New Times turning over those documents.
Investigators also intend to follow Bosch's notes to see if they lead to corroborating evidence, such as receipts for plane trips and overnight packages, according to a source close to the investigation. The source said investigators also are tracking packages tied to Juan Nunez, a player confidante who formerly worked for agents Sam and Seth Levinson and who was a co-conspirator with Melky Cabrera of a web site scam staged after a failed drug test by Cabrera last year.
New Times editor Chuck Strouse confirmed MLB officials asked for the notebooks and logs but that the publication had not yet decided about how to respond to the request. "We are deliberating," he said.
Strouse said the publication has received only one response from legal representatives of any of the named persons in the report -- and that was what he termed an "aggressive letter" questioning whether the report violated federal HIPAA laws, which are designed to protect patient privacy under care of health care providers.
The notebooks contain a trove of information from 2009-12, especially about Rodriguez and a suggested volume of doping almost unheard of in baseball. The documents released by the New Times connect Rodriguez to at least 19 drugs and supplements, including the banned substances testosterone, HGH and IGF-1, and define one doping regimen that includes as many 19 injections: four subcutaneous injections of IGF-1, nine shots of CJC (a growth hormone releasing hormone) and GHRP (growth hormone releasing peptide), and six shots of HGH at 2.5 international units.
Rodriguez, through a statement, has denied being treated by Bosch and characterized the documents as "not legitimate." Bosch has issued a statement denying an association with the named players.
"The only thing that surprises me is . . . to be using that much is a surprise," said Gary Wadler, a past chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. "I don't think any particular substance is the issue as long as you have one banned substance. The fact of the matter if he's doping, if it's two substances or five substances, as long as you have one banned substance, you're doping. The other thing you see are the various delivery systems of doping, whether under the skin or [by] mouth."
According to the Bosch notes, the failed test of Cabrera -- which occurred in July and confirmed in August -- appeared to be the tipping point for a financially stretched Bosch, and possibly the demise of his since shuttered Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. Upon Cabrera's suspension, Bosch wrote a letter addressed to "Juan" in which he sought $14,000 in payments from Cabrera, including what Bosch described as a $5,000 "All-Star bonus" for helping him make the All-Star team.
Bosch appears to use "food" as a code name for his drugs, as in "I am out thousands of dollars [because] I bought this month's food," as well as explaining, "I would like to send all the food out immediately to you so you may distribute it . . ."
In the letter Bosch also complained that the rift between him and Cabrera threatened to harm his relationship with Rodriguez, who is referred to with the code name Cacique: "This also has put my relationship w Cacique at risk @ the tune of 12K per month. And I have 4 years remaining on that deal."
There is no indication whether Cabrera and Bosch settled the financial dispute, but the notations in Bosch's notebook dry up after the dispute, at least according to documents released by the New Times.
Records describe Biogenesis clients according to how drugs were distributed to them: "office," "pickup" or "delivery." Rodriguez is listed as "Baseball/Delivery," as well as the notation "cash." The list of notations in nearly every case dovetails with the exact playing schedules and noted statistics of the players in question. Those notations include:
• A drug regimen that appears to have been written in 2011, the year of the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, the title of which appears as the letterhead of the paper used to outline the plan for "Cacique," Rodriguez's clinic code name. The regimen calls for taking growth hormone releasing hormone and growth hormone releasing peptides in .7 international units "AM/Noon/PM" three times per week.
• A 2012 reference to Rodriguez that lists him as "paid through April 30." It continues, "I need to see him between April 13-19. Deliver troches and pink cream . . . and May meds. He has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April.)" The dates dovetail with the exact dates of a Yankees homestand. Troches are lozenges used to deliver testosterone, the pink cream is believed to be a transdermal delivery system of testosterone and Sub-Q is shorthand for subcutaneous,
• A notation for May 7-8, 2012 that refers to "NYC/ARod." The Yankees had an off day at home May 7 and played a home game May 8.
• A reference in a 2012 notebook of Rodriguez's batting average, home runs and RBI: .277, 7, 19 -- his exact statistics of May 29 when the Yankees were in Anaheim.
• The names of "Alex Rod" and "Yuri Sucart," his cousin, under May 21, 2010, a date the Yankees were in New York as the visiting team against the Mets.
• An April 4, 2012 delivery plan ("in person or by mail") for Yasmani Grandal, a catcher for the Triple-A Tucson Padres at the time. "Payment will be made by his girlfriend," it notes, including $500 for expenses.
• A busy week in 2012 that refers to Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz in Baltimore May 7 (where the Rangers played the Orioles), Rodriguez in New York May 8 and Cabrera in Phoenix May 10 (where the Giants played the Diamondbacks). Cruz was hitting .216 entering May 7. He hit .500 over the next week.
• A note about Cruz on May 29, 2012 with his exact triple crown statistics at the time: .276, 7, 34.
• A holiday discount with a Dec. 14, 2011 notation of drugs associated with University of Miami trainer Jimmy Goins. "Gift certificate. $75 off X-mas," it notes, as well as a credit of "$100 for referral."
• A discrepancy in dates assigned to a notebook labeled 2009. The notations refer to Feb. 7, 14 and 28 as falling on Mondays -- which was true in 2011, not 2009.
The notes in the 2009 book list "Alex Rod" and Yuri Sucart under "Mon./Feb. 14." It was on Feb. 5, 2009 that Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated confronted Rodriguez while training in Miami about information that he flunked his 2003 survey test for the steroid Primobolan. The story, written by Roberts and David Epstein, was posted Feb. 7, 2009, a Saturday -- making it more likely the "Mon./Feb. 14" notation refers to 2011.
Strouse said it's possible an entry from one year became interspersed with another year, as he said the New Times found in the case of another Bosch client.
The notebooks give MLB the kind of sunlight onto the secretive drug culture of athletes that the United States Anti-Doping Agency failed to get from disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. They detail how ballplayers could take HGH and IGF-1 with impunity because baseball has not tested in-season for those banned substances, a loophole that closes this year. Moreover, ballplayers could risk using testosterone in low doses and in the form of fast-acting creams and troches in hopes of not triggering a positive urine sample.
"They essentially were playing the lottery when it came to using testosterone," said one MLB official. "Some got caught; some didn't." Cabrera, Grandal and Colon all failed drug tests last season for elevated levels of testosterone.
For instance, the notes for Grandal show the use of HGH and IGF "six days on, one day off, AM and PM" and the use of testosterone troches of 15 percent and, before games, 20 percent.
Here are identifiable substances connected to Alex Rodriguez according to documents released by the Miami New Times, which the publication attributes as the handwritten logs of Florida wellness clinician Tony Bosch. It does not include some substances that could not be identified because of abbreviations or legibility.
Testosterone: Banned substance applied by cream at 10% strength
L-Glutathione: Antioxidant used for cell repair
Troches: 19% testosterone-laced lozenge used prior to workout
Pink cream: Trans-dermal delivery of testosterone
HGH: Injectable growth hormone, a banned substance
CJC: Injectable growth hormone releasing hormone
GHRP: Injectable growth hormone releasing peptide
IGF-1: Banned substance; stimulates insulin and muscle growth
Zinc: Essential mineral used as dietary supplement
Amino acids: Supplement aids in recovery and building of muscle tissue
Vitamin D: Immune system booster
Omega-3, -6, -9: Essential fatty acids
5-HTP: Boosts serotonin production in brain
DHEA: Testosterone precursor
Resveratrol: Plant-based supplement marketed as anti-aging agent
Melatonin: Hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles
Glucosamine: Supplement used for joint and cartilage health
Alpha lipoic acid: Antioxidant that helps turn glucose into energy
Ibuprofen: Anti-inflammatory drug to treat minor aches and pains