There are “at least 100, possibly more” athletes — including 16- and 17-year-old high school players — who were clients of Biogenesis, the now-defunct Coral Gables wellness clinic at the center of one of the biggest scandals in Major League Baseball history, the whistleblower who exposed the clinic told the Miami Herald on Thursday.
It is the first time high school athletes have been mentioned as clients of the clinic, which was operated by Anthony Bosch, a phony doctor who is now cooperating with MLB in its probe to identify professional players involved in doping.
Porter Fischer, a former Biogenesis employee, investor and client, said that besides pro baseball, basketball, boxing and soccer athletes — collegiate ball players, as well as local police officers, lawyers and at least one judge — are among those who spent thousands of dollars a month at the clinic, which operated out of a storefront across the street from the University of Miami.
Fischer has not made any names public, but said at least a dozen student names are listed in the clinic’s records for 2011 alone — largely baseball players from St. Brendans, Gulliver, Columbus and South Miami high schools, he said.
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“This was never about professional ballplayers, or stars — this was about criminal activity and injecting underage athletes,” said Fischer, who contacted the Florida Department of Health after he had a falling-out with Bosch over money earlier this year.
Fischer said a state health investigator opened an inquiry and confirmed through interviews with others at the clinic that Bosch was injecting minors with steroid “concoctions.” Yet the investigation went nowhere.
“I just don’t understand that — you mean if I was in my garage, giving out tummy tucks, the department of health would just look the other way?”
Fischer, who was interviewed Thursday on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, said he has lived in fear since he first exposed the illegal activity at the clinic to the Miami New Times in January. He has been followed, his car has been broken into and his life has been threatened, he said. He lives in hiding and carries a gun.
“I don’t know why law enforcement hasn’t gotten involved to be honest,” said Fischer’s lawyer, Raymond Rafool. “We really can’t figure it out. Porter is very upset. You’re talking about high school kids getting this stuff from this clinic. For kids who haven’t even given their bodies the opportunity to grow to be doing this was really disturbing to him.”
In the end, Bosch was fined $5,000 from the state Department of Health for practicing medicine without a license. Rafool said that’s where the investigation inexplicably ended. And since there was no criminal case, the Miami state attorney said she had nothing to prosecute.
“No police agency has brought anything to the state attorney to review,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for state attorney Katherine Rundle.
Rafool, a former prosecutor, said that is hogwash.
“She is the lead law enforcement officer. She has her own investigators. She can direct file. She doesn’t need anyone to bring it to her,” he said.
Fischer said since the story broke in January, no one from law enforcement has contacted him to interview him about the clinic’s activities, even though the case has received widespread international coverage.
MLB is expected to suspend as many as 20 players in the coming weeks, including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, whose name has been mentioned prominently in the clinic’s records. Rodriguez, a Miami native who practices at UM during the offseason, turns 38 on Saturday.
The Rodriguez drama took another twist Thursday, as New York’s hungry tabloids continued their feeding frenzy on the jilted Yankee.
There is mounting pressure for A-Rod to retire or cut a deal with MLB, which some say has enough evidence against him to possibly ban him from the sport and exclude him from the Baseball Hall of Fame for life. But thus far, A-Rod’s handlers have elected to wage a publicity war.
The countdown for his takedown began in earnest Monday, when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun — who played for UM — conceded defeat, accepting a 65-game suspension for his involvement in the steroids scandal. The powerful player’s union, which had remained noticeably tight-lipped throughout MLB’s aggressive investigation, announced that it supported his decision and publicly advised other players who participated in doping to do the same.
Besides being accused of taking steroids for the second time since 2009, Rodriguez is suspected of impeding MLB’s inquiry by purchasing some of Fischer’s documents through an intermediary and destroying them.
He has denied having anything to do with the clinic.
Fischer, who invested $4,000 into Bosch’s clinic, began collecting documents after Bosch stopped paying him and refused to repay him his investment. He has tried without success to sell the documents to MLB and several media outlets in hopes of using the money to leave the area and start a new life.
Since the scandal broke, the media has focused primarily on the big-name players.
But Fischer says the story is bigger than baseball.
And his motives, he insisted, are not about the money, but about justice.
“It’s almost scary to think about how many people have gone through [Bosch’s treatments] and how long he’s gotten away with this,” Fischer said.