Three years ago, Porter Fischer sparked the biggest steroid scandal in baseball history when he leaked files from the Biogenesis clinic to Miami New Times. Fourteen MLB players were later suspended in the saga, none more visibly than Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees superstar who lost a whole year on the field for taking illicit drugs from the clinic.
Now, Fischer has a new venture: An anti-steroid 5K race scheduled for May in Tropical Park. And he's reaching out to A-Rod for help.
"If Alex wants to help from a ground level, I would welcome the support, participation and influence," Fischer says. "I think it would make a pretty profound and powerful statement if Alex (and others from the Biogenesis Bunch) stood up, brushed themselves off, owned it, came back better and changed it."
The 5K, called the Miami Clean K, is the latest plan from Fischer's non-profit, The Porter Project, which he started in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal to educate athletes and children about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.
"I started the non-profit because it was evident to me that there was a bigger message that needed attention. I was blown away by the apathy and indifference to the big picture," Fischer says. "When 12, 13 or 14 year old athletes are pushed or influenced to take injectable drugs into their system, that are made in some guys garage, and pushed by either misinformation or sadly, their own parents or coaches, then that is child endangerment."
Thus far, Fischer has focused on two missions: "Come Clean" — an education package centered on speeches to kids — and "Clean Justice," aimed a tightening laws around clinics like Biogenesis, which operate with near impunity and little oversight in Florida.
This year, he had the idea for a 5K race to highlight both pieces of the group's work.
"I felt that local 5K,10K and half marathons are still very much clean environments," he says. "They are not influenced by scholarships, big money, TV or endorsement contracts. The participants are still general family oriented, for-the-love-of-the-sport athletes. ... That is the sportsman that wins our hearts and admiration, that’s the athlete gets genuine cheers."
The Miami Clean K, which is scheduled for May 15 at Tropical Park, features chip timing, winner's trophies and shirts — but also an anti-PED message from Fischer's group.
"We hope that this is the first step towards awareness and real education and research into the effects of anabolic steroids," he says. "We do not feel under any circumstances that underage and developing athletes (in all sports) should be pushed, coerced, guided or pressured into taking potentially harmful, unregulated, and unsupervised medications to gain a physical advantages in the sport. The physical and psychological effects can be catastrophic."
Registration is still open for the race and Fischer is still looking for sponsors and volunteers. "I know that there are many individuals and companies out there that support the core message of protecting developing athletes and fair and clean competition," he says.
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As for the Biogenesis case, three years later loose ends are still being tied up. In October, a man pleaded guilty to burglarizing Fischer's car at a tanning salon in Palm Beach County in the midst of the saga. That man, Reginald St. Fleur, admitted to stealing boxes full of medical records from Biogenesis that Fischer had put in his car en route to a state health investigator who'd opened a probe of the clinic. Those same records were later separately bought by both Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez's camp as they went to war over his suspension in the case. St. Fleur was sentenced on Oct. 28 to one year in jail and three years probation.
Fischer says he's glad to see St. Fleur convicted, but frustrated that the loss of the records prevented a wider state probe into Biogenesis. "I am burdened by the fact that it's the little guys who take the fall," he says. "The FDOH and DOJ investigation into further underage abuse and criminal activity was thwarted ... Nothing will replace my disdain for them for that, but there is some small vindication that a few of the people who were involved in wrong doing are getting their day."
As for A-Rod, the disgraced star finished a remarkable comeback year in 2015, batting .250, smacking 33 home runs and even earning a post-season job as a Fox commentator. Fischer says he's happy to see the star bounce back and hopes he can send a strong anti-steroid message to kids.
"I know everyone has had successes and made mistakes in life and always will. That’s life," he says. "But I also believe that everyone deserves the right to make amends and come clean, own it, learn from it and grow from it. "