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Chasing A-Rod

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Rodriguez at a news conference in Chicago, August 5.  

“Where do you want to be?” asked Bosch, according to the Miami New Times.

“Well, in a perfect world, I’d like a Stallone body,” Fischer said.

“We can get you there,” Bosch told him. For $300 or so a month, Bosch had him on a program that included human growth hormone and testosterone.

Fischer was ecstatic with the results. In a matter of months, he dropped more than 40 pounds and acquired a newly chiseled physique. He was by nature an enthusiast, and was so pleased with Bosch’s treatments that he wanted to work for him. By then, Bosch had relocated his operation to a strip mall. That’s around the time Fischer tried to persuade Bosch to hire him as marketing director—Bosch, after all, didn’t even have a sign on the door. Fischer, not one to keep such things quiet, also mentioned the windfall he’d received. Bosch didn’t think he needed a marketing director, but he agreed to let Fischer work in his office as essentially an unpaid intern. He was interested in Fischer for something else. Bosch was experiencing a “slight cash-flow issue,” and asked Fischer to lend him some money. Fischer, eager to please, wrote him a check for $4,000, which Bosch promised to repay in biweekly installments and with interest.

Bosch made two payments but then stopped. He claimed he didn’t have the money, and seemed to enjoy rubbing it in. “I’m Dr. Tony Bosch,” he told Fischer. “What are you going to do about it?”

One reason Bosch didn’t want a marketing director may have been that he didn’t exactly want to be noticed. “He was always trying to fix his life,” says Bosch’s first wife, Tiki Rodriguez (no relation to Alex). Then one day he stumbled onto a particularly rich clientele. A sports agent came to him. He had a ballplayer who was about to become a free agent, and his performance was way off. Bosch looked at his blood work. It was obvious he was using banned substances; he was just using them wrong. Bosch adjusted the schedule, and the guy started smacking the ball. And, as important, he avoided detection. Bosch boasted that he was 30 years ahead of the drug testers.

Suddenly, athletes were knocking at the door. Athletes paid more—sometimes ten times as much as regular patients. Bosch prided himself on a certain ethical flexibility: If they want to take banned substances, that’s on their head.

Bosch’s brush-off infuriated Fischer, who still had the run of the Biogenesis office. He became obsessed with revenge. “It was then I started collecting the documents,” Fischer said. Among the first items he stole were Bosch’s personal notebooks.

At first, Fischer didn’t have anything specific in mind for the four black-and-white composition notebooks. Then, flipping through them, he recognized a few names from among the hundreds listed. He wasn’t a baseball fan, but even he had heard of Alex Rodriguez, one of twenty Major League ballplayers who MLB later said were linked to the clinic. Fischer walked his trove into the Miami New Times, a free weekly newspaper whose parent company also owns The Village Voice. Reporters spent months corroborating the contents. Before publishing on January 29, the paper called subjects for reaction, which is when Fischer’s life began to blow up. He hadn’t taken into account the damage he could do to people’s reputations—not just those of ballplayers, but of coaches, trainers, hangers-on, and tough guys, at least some of them on steroids.

Fischer has said he got a phone call from Carbone, his friend from Boca Tanning Club.

“You’re in danger,” Carbone shouted into the phone. “You’re going to be killed.” That was the word “on the street,” Carbone said.

Carbone drove to Fischer’s house. Fischer hid in a Honda parked in the driveway, afraid that Carbone intended to do the job himself. He had his own gun loaded and cocked. But Carbone was there to talk.

“What do you really want?” Carbone shouted at Fischer, as if inviting him to name a figure.

“I want the fucker to pay for fucking me over. I want my fucking money back.”

“I can do that,” said Carbone. Fischer went to his closet, dug under a pile of clothes, fished out the notebooks, and handed them to Carbone.

The next day at the tanning club, Carbone gave Fischer $4,000.

For Major League Baseball, the New Times bombshell was an epic embarrassment. Bud Selig, 79, who earns a superstar’s salary of $22 million a year as commissioner, hoped to be remembered as the guy who, in his twenty-plus-year reign, cleaned up baseball through an aggressive drug-testing program—not the one who’d presided over the “steroids era” of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and others, during which one congressman called for Selig’s resignation. Yet none of the fourteen players later suspended had tested positive for banned substances. There was no way to undo the harm of the lax testing, but a vigorous investigation followed by harsh sanctions might cauterize the problem and safeguard at least some of his legacy. And Rodriguez, with all his flaws and his huge contract and, MLB believed, his constant violations, was an inviting target.


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