When Porter Fischer exposed Coral Gables clinic Biogenesis as the source of performance enhancing drugs to scores of top athletes, including baseball stars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, his motivation was simple. The clinic's owner, Tony Bosch, had stiffed him out of a $4,000 loan, so he shared records implicating Bosch with New Times to help spark a scandal that resulted in a record round of MLB drug suspensions.
As he watched the professional baseball drama play out, though, Fischer says he came to believe he could play an important role in another, less discussed, steroid problem: drug use among young athletes, whom Fischer alleges were regular clients at Biogenesis.
"I was concerned that few seemed to really care about the safety of the young athletes and civilian victims affected by the clinic," Fischer says in an email interview with Riptide. "It seemed that unless it had a high profile or popular name attached to it, then it wasn't important enough to make headlines or raise awareness. Someone had to do something, and I realized it was time to go public and begin something that would have a positive and meaningful impact."
Enter the Porter Project. Fischer has set up the nonprofit, he says, to "encourage every young, developing athlete to come clean to their sport."
Fischer envisions two core missions to his new project. The first, which he calls "Come Clean," will focus on youth education through speeches and meetings with youth teams and coaches. "Too often a player will look for any edge or become influenced to jeopardize his/her health in order to elevate their game," he says. "We would like to restore a level playing field across all sports and competition levels, while educating our youth."
The second piece, which he calls "Clean Justice," will work to tighten laws and regulations around clinics like Biogenesis. Hundreds of similar cash-only clinics operate around Florida; a December New Times investigation found that several were owned by or closely tied to convicted felons, and that state regulators rarely turned investigations into criminal charges for rule breakers.
Fischer has been consulting with state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, whose "Health Care Clinic Act" would close a loophole in state law that let Bosch operate with relative impunity; that bill, SB 746, has passed several committees and is working its way toward a vote on the Senate floor in Tallahassee.
"There are hundreds of clinics like Biogenesis across the country," Fischer says. "We would like to highlight and applaud the clinics that are providing a needed medical service to the public in a responsible and regulated manner. And we would like to shut down the unregulated clinics that are endangering our community and our young athletes."
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Through the foundation's site, theporterproject.org, Fischer hopes to collect stories from athletes who have rejected PEDs and find opportunities to spread his message.
In the meantime, he's still waiting for justice to find Tony Bosch. A federal grand jury is reportedly looking into allegations that Bosch, who was not a licensed doctor in Florida, sold drugs to minors; Miami-Dade prosecutors also have an open probe.