MIAMI — The former clinic owner accused of selling performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez has agreed to plead guilty in what prosecutors called a wide-ranging conspiracy to distribute steroids to both major-league ballplayers and high-school athletes.
The charges filed Tuesday against former Biogenesis of America owner Anthony Bosch and six others marked one of the biggest salvos yet in a case that has dragged on for nearly two years. The case has sparked lawsuits, mudslinging and suspensions against numerous major leaguers, including Rodriguez.
Also charged was Yuri Sucart, 52, a cousin of Rodriguez who the New York Yankees third baseman has said provided him with steroids from 2000 to 2003 when he played for the Texas Rangers.
Sucart and the others are accused of acting as recruiters, setting up meetings between the athletes and Bosch, who introduced himself as “Dr. T,” authorities said. Professional athletes paid up to $12,000 a month for the drugs provided by Biogenesis, while high schoolers paid up to $600 a month. All the clients were promised that the substances would not be found through drug testing, prosecutors said.
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“He is not a doctor,” Mark R. Trouville, chief of the Miami Drug Enforcement Administration office, said of Bosch. “He is a drug dealer.”
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said Bosch did not have a medical license, making what happened all the more dangerous.
“As with many drug cases, these defendants were motivated by one thing — by money,” Ferrer said.
Major League Baseball was not part of the criminal investigation and declined comment. No athletes were charged nor named in court documents, and it is unclear how many may have been involved. However, authorities said Bosch admitted to providing performance-enhancing drugs to 18 high schoolers.
For now, Bosch has pleaded not guilty and his bond was set at $100,000. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
“In terms of an agreement to cooperate and plead guilty, Bosch has agreed to do that,” Ferrer said.
Michael McCann, director of the sports and entertainment law center at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, said it’s unlikely that the players involved in this scandal will face criminal charges, unless there’s any evidence that a player went beyond using drugs and into distributing them.
“They could lose an endorsement contract because of a morals clause in their contract, but if that were to happen I think it would have already happened,” McCann said. “In terms of punishment from baseball, baseball has punished them.”
“He’s not somebody with a great track record, there are reasons to doubt him in terms of his credibility,” McCann added.
Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Rodriguez, said the arrests Tuesday represent a degree of closure for Rodriguez and will enable him to focus on an eventual return to baseball.
“It sort of reinforces the notion that Alex committed no crime, number one,” Tacopina said. “And number two, quite frankly, this really signified the beginning of the end of the whole Biogenesis saga and allows Alex to focus on the future going forward.”
Rodriguez is currently serving a seasonlong suspension.