Allegations of death threats, wide-spread doping dominate 60 Minutes report on A-Rod
If one believes all of the allegations thrown around in Sunday night’s two-part 60 Minutes report on Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis scandal, performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball is as rampant as ever, the game’s testing program was unable to catch Rodriguez despite a steady program of doping that had him ingesting testosterone and other illegals substances multiple times a day during the season and on game days, and one of Rodriguez’s associates threatened Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch’s life. As such, Bosch, MLB’s chief witness in his first significant interview since the scandal broke, did damage to himself, Rodriguez and the game in the report by Scott Pelley.
The interview with Bosch opened with details of the doping allegations against Rodriguez. According to Bosch, Rodriguez was taking, “testosterone, insulin growth factor 1, human growth hormone and some different forms of peptides . . . all of them banned.” Blackberry Messenger records acquired by 60 Minutes showing alleged conversations between Bosch and Rodriguez detailed a doping regimen that had Rodriguez using skin creams, lozenges and injectables in rotation throughout the course of the day, including at the stadium on game days, all supposedly timed to let the drugs pass through his body before any post-game testing.
Bosch said that Rodriguez, who had previously admitted using banned substances from 2001-03, first came to him on July 31, 2010, inquiring after the substances Bosch provided for Manny Ramirez in 2008 and 2009. Ramirez finished the 2008 season with a flourish after being traded to the Dodgers (.396/.489/.743) but tested positive for a female fertility drug used as part of a testosterone-doping cycle in spring training 2009 and was suspended for 50 games that season.
Bosch said that Rodriguez’s ultimate goal was to become the first player ever to hit 800 home runs and that he was very attentive to what he was taking. “Alex cared. Alex wanted to know,” said Bosch. “He would study the product. He would study the substance. He would study the dosages.” Bosch said Rodriguez paid him $12,000 a month in cash. He also said that he had injected Rodriguez himself because “Alex is scared of needles.” Bosch was not asked about the fact that Rodriguez’s overall performance declined in both 2011 and 2012.
After the scandal broke a year ago, Bosch claims Rodriguez’s associates pressured him to sign an affidavit claiming he had never given Rodriguez performance-enhancing drugs. After refusing to sign, he claims Rodriguez’s associates suggested he “leave town,” offering to fly him to Colombia and give him cash upon his arrival and eventual return to the United States. After he refused that, Pelley reported, Bosch’s ex-girlfriend received a text message in Spanish saying Bosch would not live to see the end of the year.
By that time, Bosch and his brother Ashley, an attorney and a “managing member” of the Biogenesis clinic, were also being sued by Major League Baseball. On May 9, 2013, Bosch, acting on the advice of his lawyer, met with MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and chief counsel Dan Halem at a Miami restaurant.
Per Manfred, Bosch’s “principal concern from the very beginning was his personal safety. He told us there had been threats on his life. We knew from our own investigation . . . that there were individuals in this web of people that surrounded Biogenesis that had criminal records and that, by reputation, were dangerous. . . . Some of them were associates of Baseball players, which was an issue of great concern to us, some of them were associates of Alex Rodriguez.”
In return for Bosch’s cooperation, MLB agreed to drop its lawsuit and cover all of Bosch’s security and legal fees. That, in conjunction with MLB spending $125,000 for Biogenesis documents from an individual who identified himself only as “Bobby,” all of which Manfred admitted to in the 60 Minutes report, would seem to question the integrity of MLB’s evidence and its chief witness.
To Manfred, however, Bosch’s credibility stems from the fact that his story lines up with the available evidence (provided by Bosch and “Bobby”), the fact that he testified under oath and, perhaps most significantly, because the details of Bosch’s testimony were never challenged in the recent arbitration hearing concerning Rodriguez’s suspension.
“For the first time in the history of the Joint Drug Agreement,” Manfred told 60 Minutes, “the player accused of wrongdoing did not take the stand in his own defense. So, whatever Mr. Rodriguez has said publicly the fact of the matter is the evidence in the case contains no denial from Mr. Rodriguez.”
That’s damning, but so is the lack of a positive Rodriguez test. Not necessarily because of what the lack of a positive might say about Rodriguez’s guilt, but because of what it says about MLB’s lauded testing program. According to Bosch, it was “almost a cakewalk . . . to beat the system.”
Bosch explained how Rodriguez was able to get a testosterone spike during games by taking a testosterone troche — a sublingual lozenge or gummy containing one to three milligrams of testosterone — before a game to achieve “more energy, more strength, more focus” yet still have his testosterone levels return to normal by the time any postgame testing might occur. He also explained how he advised his clients to omit the beginning and end of their urine stream from the sample they provided to the testers so as to omit most of the metabolites.
Most troubling, particularly coming from a man known to have provided at least 18 players with performance-enhancing drugs and who is MLB’s own key witness, was Bosch’s description of a sport that remains awash in illegal doping. Asked about his motivation for providing these drugs to players, as if he needed one beyond the money, Bosch replied that the players were going to do the drugs anyway, so why not help them “do it the right way.”
“Unfortunately, this is part of baseball,” Bosch told Pelley. “When you ask these guys to play 100-plus games back-to-back, jump on a plane, get off a plane, all these road trips, their bodies break down. This has always been part of the game.”