The following is excerpted from the book Baseball Cop: The Dark Side of America’s National Pastime by Eddie Dominguez with Christian Red and Teri Thompson. Copyright ©2018 Eddie Dominguez by Hachette Books. Reprinted with permission of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
Dominguez, a former member of Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations, spoke at length last fall with Tony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic at the center of one of the biggest doping scandals in the league’s history.
Tony Bosch talked about his hard-partying lifestyle and blamed it on the players and celebrities he was doing business with. “I started doing drugs or that party lifestyle due to my lifestyle with all these players,” he said. “And remember, it wasn’t only the athletes, I had a bunch of celebrities.”
He described Alex Rodriguez as a “very insecure individual. Very insecure. In every aspect. You know, ‘Am I good enough?’ You know, ‘If I’m going to be with a chick, they’re going to have to be blond, you know. Are my eyes blue enough? Am I tall enough? Am I strong enough?’ I would go into his house, and in his living room he would have, like, this-size TV, maybe a little smaller, and he would have them in different locations, and every TV had a different game on of his highlights.”
He said A-Rod paid him extra to be with him “almost 24/7,” no doubt a function of the player’s fear of testing positive or somehow getting caught. According to Bosch, most of the players he dealt with had been abusing testosterone for years—in A-Rod’s case since high school—and had built up a tolerance to the drug. But Bosch ridiculed MLB’s drug program and said he doesn’t think there is an effective one in sports, even though several of his clients tested positive.
“They have the better of the worst,” he said of MLB’s program.
“The least of my worries was [players] pissing dirty. The ones that did piss dirty were those that thought I was invincible and that I could fix everything, and they didn’t follow protocol.”
by Eddie Dominguez
A decorated detective as well as a member of an FBI task force, Dominguez shares the shocking revelations he confronted every day for six years with the DOI and nine as a resident security agent (RSA) for the Boston Red Sox. He shines a light on the inner workings of the commissioner's office and the complicity of baseball's bosses in dealing with the misdeeds compromising the integrity of the game.
He singled out Ryan Braun as a particularly reckless user. “Ryan Braun had something called troches—they called it gummy bears—they’re actually lozenges. They had testosterone in them—fifteen percent. I already had these guys juiced, so all they had to do was, this was an activator. A little testosterone. They would drop it in the first inning—it was gone by the fifth inning—and unless you pulled him out of a game and tested him, you would never find out. So you could test him before and test him after and never know.”
“And so what happened with Braun was real simple,” he said. “The guy took, like, thirty gummy bears. He took one in the third inning, then he took one in the fifth inning, then he took one in the seventh inning, then he took one . . . he was just popping it like it was—candy.”
Bosch re-created a conversation with Braun, and I had to smile after hearing the anecdote retold.
“How many did you take?”
“I took five, I took six.”
“How much did you take?”
“Okay. I took the whole thing.”
Bosch described a testing policy full of holes, including when and where players are tested. “I didn’t start working until midnight, and I didn’t finish until five a.m. That was my work day with these athletes,” he said. “You’d never see me during the day with these guys. We did everything in the middle of the night. . . . Even if you wanted to use liquid testosterone, all right. You’re going to get it at twelve o’clock at night, at midnight, and by nine a.m., ten a.m., it’s out of your system. And if you microdose it, good luck testing for it. “Another example—off-season. Like, really? My guys, they were in the middle of the ocean on a boat. What are you going to do?
Send a helicopter? Because they’re on vacation. Let’s say the urine guys, the testing guys, say, ‘I’m coming over.’ I’m fishing in Bimini. They gave me three days, that was the policy. It’s like forty-eight hours. In forty-eight hours we could have changed the world over and over again as far as this is concerned. I mean, we had this shit down pat. Listen to me, this doesn’t take brilliance. It just takes, it takes desire, motivation, commitment, and a little bit of, you know, bullshit, a little bit of money.”
He was right about that. As long as the game rewards cheaters, not much will change. His statement goes back to what I’ve said all along: all the testing in the world will not get rid of performance enhancing drug use.
MLB and the Players Association know that the testing is useless and that they can both cover themselves with the PED-testing security blanket. MLB can say we have the best testing and because of it the players aren’t using performance enhancers, which is a lie that was revealed by the Biogenesis case.
As Bosch says, everybody wins. MLB can say it has the best testing, and the union can say its players are clean.
“It’s simple math,” Bosch said. “Look at the history. Let’s see, I’m a number four outfielder earning $1.1 million. I get on the juice, and in my free-agent year, if I make it as a starting outfielder, let me see, that’s $4.3 million. I get caught, I lose $500,000. But I made $4 million. Simple math. Look at all the guys that got caught—they got better contracts after, Melky included. How are you going to beat the system if you’re rewarding these guys? Now the Hall of Fame? F--- the Hall of Fame. [Players] don’t care about the Hall. [Players] care about the dollar, brother. This is a business. There’s no, you know, slapping on the ass. Good game. That’s on TV.”
He said he had done a lot of work in the Dominican Republic, which was no surprise to anyone familiar with that Wild West landscape, and that he would send an associate to speak with a player.
“You wanted to catch everybody, you should have gone in the winter to Boca Chica, that’s where everything, where all the work was done,” he said. “There was a process. It was like a six-month vetting process that would take place. I would have them pay a deposit to [the associate]; then [the associate] would give me the money. Half of that deposit would go to set up everything, and then I would start in on it. But I would only do the work in the winter. So I would rent a place and the work was done in the off-season, so all the levels I was testing, all the diagnostic tests, all the blood tests, when I would mix peptides and use different acids to make sure they coincide with your pH and your pH was always balanced, so everything was done there.”
I was not surprised at all to hear Bosch say he had done most of his work in the off-season, as well as the blood tests and all the other work he mentioned. Over the six years I was assigned to the DOI, I made people like Bosch my most sought-after sources. And I targeted antiaging clinics as the most likely places for athletes to get their PEDs.
As I’ve said before, in my twenty-three years working narcotics I didn’t spend much time investigating performance-enhancing drugs. We had our hands full chasing cocaine and heroin dealers, which present much more danger to the general public. A drug dealer is a drug dealer, though, and in the end the investigations are the same. When I decided to join the DOI, I did my homework and started reading and searching for people who distributed PEDs. Even the Mitchell Report was helpful in pointing me in the right direction.
As Mitchell wrote in his report: The recommendations below focus on three principal areas: investigations based upon non-testing evidence; player education; and further improvements in the testing program. These recommendations are designed to work in combination with one another to more effectively combat performance enhancing substance violations. It bears emphasis that no testing program, standing alone, is enough. Certain illegal substances are difficult or virtually impossible to detect, and law enforcement investigations of
Kirk Radomski and compounding pharmacies and antiaging clinics show that, even in this era of testing, players can continue to use performance-enhancing substances while avoiding detection. Indeed, one leading expert has argued that “testing only scratches the surface.” The ability to vigorously investigate allegations of performance enhancing substance violations is an essential part of any meaningful drug prevention program.
Along the way I investigated the likes of Anthony Galea and searched for and found PED distributors, some active and some in hiding. They all had the same modus operandi. As Bosch said, it all starts with a blood test; then they find the products that best suit what you’re looking to accomplish, followed by a protocol that keeps you one step ahead of the testing. It ends with a large invoice that is paid in cash.
I found one PED dealer who would become a source hiding in Puerto Rico. Prior to the release of the Mitchell Report and before Mitchell’s investigation began, that dealer used to supply several players with PEDs. Some of those players were with the Red Sox.
Soon after the congressional hearings began, the dealer was told by his clients that he needed to get out of town. This source was the son of a pharmacist in Puerto Rico and learned his craft by reading and traveling to Europe and Asia, where many PED dealers get their latest and best products. This source broke down the process just as Bosch did. He claimed to have been hired by a future Hall of Fame player late in his career and said that after giving the player a blood test, he broke the news to the player that he couldn’t help him. According to the source, he could tell from the player’s blood that he had been using PEDs for years and there was nothing he could give him that would help.
I also found a doctor in Puerto Rico whose office was in a strip mall in the middle of nowhere. I went in to ask him some questions and noticed that he had autographed photos of all the well-known Latin players at the time adorning his personal office. I ran into a dead end in the investigation and turned it over to the DEA, which tried to get some undercovers into the doctor’s world, but he smelled a rat and didn’t bite.
The doctor did tell me that he had treated many of the players who were on his wall and that he used to shut down his office for a month to go to spring training to treat his players.
Just as I still wonder how someone like Alex Rodriguez, with all the financial backing in the world, ended up being injected in a restaurant bathroom by someone like Bosch, I wondered why those players, with all the money they have, would travel to a strip mall in Puerto Rico to get treated by that doctor.
By the time the Biogenesis investigation started, I had targeted several antiaging clinics and had already gone into several of them in an undercover capacity as a trainer to buy PEDs for some younger players I was allegedly training. After a brief conversation, followed by my commitment to pay cash, I had agreements to do business. I was looking forward to taking all those cases to law enforcement when MLB said good-bye.
The bottom line is that you can spend millions and millions of dollars on testing and you’ll catch a few stupid or financially strapped younger athletes, but you won’t catch the A-Rods of the world.