NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s key witness in its case against Alex Rodriguez said he designed and administered an elaborate doping program for the 14-time All-Star starting in 2010.
Anthony Bosch, the founder of the now shuttered Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, said in a “60 Minutes” interview aired on CBS on Sunday night that Rodriguez paid him $12,000 per month to provide him with an assortment of banned drugs that included testosterone and human growth hormone.
Rob Manfred, the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, said during the news program that Bosch chose to cooperate in the investigation in part because he feared for his life.
MLB’s suspension of Rodriguez was reduced on Saturday by an arbitrator from 211 games to 162, plus all playoff games next season.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who did not testify during the slugger’s appeal, defended the largest suspension ever handed out under the Joint Drug Agreement.
“In my judgment his actions were beyond comprehension,” Selig said on the show. “I think 211 games was a very fair penalty.”
Bosch said he began working with Rodriguez — who was motivated by his pursuit of 800 career home runs — five days before the New York Yankees third baseman hit his 600th homer on Aug. 4, 2010. Bosch said the first words out of Rodriguez’s mouth were: “What did Manny Ramirez take in 2008 and 2009?”
Ramirez was suspended 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for a banned drug, his first of two offenses.
Of the 14 players suspended as a result of MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis, Rodriguez was the only one to appeal the ban.
A self-taught practitioner who was once fined $5,000 for practicing medicine without a license, Bosch outlined his relationship with the three-time AL MVP. He said he designed the program to help Rodriguez maximize the effects of the drugs and remain clean in the eyes of baseball. Rodriguez never failed a test during the period in question.
Detailing a clandestine operation, Bosch said the duo used code words for the drugs like “gummies” for testosterone lozenges, which Rodriguez sometimes took right before games. Bosch said he once drew A-Rod’s blood in the bathroom stall of a Miami restaurant.
Bosch also said he injected A-Rod with banned drugs because the former No. 1 draft pick with 654 career homers was afraid of needles.
Details of Bosch’s relationship with Rodriguez have never been made public because the Joint Drug Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement requires confidentiality for both sides.
The players’ association, which filed the appeal on Rodriguez’s behalf, said in a statement it was disappointed MLB participated in the show.
“It is unfortunate that Major League Baseball apparently lacks faith in the integrity and finality of the arbitrator’s decision and our Joint Drug Agreement, such that it could not resist the temptation to publicly pile-on against Alex Rodriguez,” the statement said. “MLB’s post-decision rush to the media is inconsistent with our collectively-bargained arbitration process, in general, as well as the confidentiality and credibility of the Joint Drug Agreement, in particular.
“As a result, the Players Association is considering all legal options available to remedy any breaches committed by MLB,” the statement said.
Baseball said in a statement later Sunday that it had informed the players’ association it would respond publicly once the appeal is over.
“It is ironic that the MLBPA is complaining about MLB’s participation in this program given that Mr. Rodriguez’s lawyer is also participating in the show,” the statement said, referring to Joseph Tacopina.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez has denied he ever took illegal substances after 2003 — he admitted in 2009 he took steroids from 2001-03. He already sued MLB and Selig in October, claiming they are engaged in a “witch hunt” against him.
“60 Minutes” reported it had over 500 Blackberry messages between Bosch and Rodriguez. Baseball connected the pin number of the messages to a phone owned by Rodriguez.
Said one message from a phone owned by A-Rod: “Gummie at 1045am?… game at 1pm.”
Rodriguez’s lawyers have said they were talking about nutrition in their exchanges.
The news program also displayed a heavily redacted document showing a payment of nearly $50,000 from “A-Rod Corporation” to Bosch’s lawyer — a sum that was returned.
The payment, according to Bosch, was part of an effort by Rodriguez and his people to keep Bosch quiet. After Bosch rejected Rodriguez’s request for him to sign an affidavit affirming he never gave A-Rod PEDs, Bosch says among other things it was suggested he “leave town” until the case was over. He says he was offered money and a trip to Colombia.
When he rejected the trip, Bosch said his ex-girlfriend received a text in Spanish that said Bosch would not live until the end of the year.
Tacopina denied it all.
Absolutely not. He didn’t bribe anyone. There was no allegation that he bribed anyone,” Tacopina said. “And the notion that Bosch is now coming on a television interview without the benefit of cross-examination or an oath — is laughable.”
Baseball finally got its breakthrough with Bosch after MLB sued him. A lawyer advised Bosch to “align ourself with somebody as powerful as Alex.”
In a scene right out of a suspense movie, Manfred and a top league lawyer met with Bosch at a Miami restaurant.
“He was fidgety, nervous, uncomfortable,” Manfred said. “His principal concern from the very beginning was his personal safety.”
“He told us that there had been threats on his life,” Manfred continued.
“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. … The individual that was of greatest concern to Mr. Bosch was a known associate of Mr. Rodriguez.”
Baseball and Bosch struck a deal that included security for Bosch in exchange for his testimony.