A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names

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In the notebook, Bosch outlines an extensive program he was shipping to Gamboa. In addition to protein powders and calcium/magnesium/zinc compounds, he included a six-day-a-week HGH regime, IGF-1, and a cream with 20 percent testosterone.

What's more, Bosch even notes Gamboa's next bout is scheduled against Brandon Rios the following April and writes, "Start clean-up Dec. 1" — presumably giving the boxer enough time to pass doping tests.

Last week, New Times sent detailed letters outlining the information in Bosch's files to Rodriguez, Cabrera, Cruz, Carrillo, Gonzalez, Colón, and Grandal through their teams. None of the players responded. Odesnik reviewed his mentions in Bosch's files but didn't offer a comment before presstime. Gamboa didn't respond to multiple messages left with his trainer. New Times also sent a letter to Goins with all the details from Bosch's records through the UM media department; he did not respond.

What does it all add up to? Former Biogenesis employees say there's no mystery why these athletes appear in Bosch's records. "He sold HGH and steroids," says the clinic's former secretary. "Everyone who worked there knew that was what our business was."

Today, the blinds are closed at Biogenesis, and although a small printout with the clinic's orange-and-white logo is still taped to the door, fliers from nearby fast-food joints are hung three deep from the doorknob.

Last month, Tony Bosch's partners changed the locks and shut him out over yet another dispute over money.

Bosch didn't respond to multiple emails from New Times, and his cell phone for weeks went directly to a full voicemail box not accepting new messages. Finally, on January 27, he answered but declined to talk about his clinic. "I can't really say anything to you," he said, adding his attorney would be in touch.

Pedro Bosch also failed to respond to multiple emails and to a letter hand-delivered to his home in Coral Gables. Like his son, he briefly answered a call on January 27 but refused to talk. "I saw your questions, but I don't have anything to say," he said.

There's a larger question than simply whether Tony Bosch was helping baseball players juice: Was he breaking the law in the process?

It's not really clear. The FDA has authorized HGH only for a handful of extremely rare conditions and banned it for all other uses, yet a booming anti-aging industry — built almost exclusively on selling HGH to anyone who wants it — has emerged nationwide in the past decade.

Law enforcement has delved into the matter a few times, most notably in a 2007 sting called "Operation Which Doctor" that targeted the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center and several Florida doctors for auto-signing for HGH and testosterone prescriptions without ever seeing patients. That raid ensnared a few ballplayers as well, most famously then-St. Louis Cardinals star Rick Ankiel.

But the raid, led by an Albany, New York district attorney named David Soares, ended up with fewer convictions than expected. The message to the industry was clear: Avoid internet sales, and law enforcement will leave you alone.

Besides, doctors have a privilege called "off-label prescribing," which allows them to prescribe drugs for non-FDA-approved purposes in most cases. As long as the docs actually see the patients, they're often in the clear.

Did that happen at Bosch's clinic? None of the employees New Times interviewed ever saw Dr. Pedro Bosch or any other physician in the clinic (several other doctors' names appear in the records). But Tony Bosch did employ a phlebotomist who drew blood from clients that was then sent for analysis. That practice might be enough to put the doctors on the right side of the law.

An Associated Press investigation this past December found another reason why there hasn't been much federal action to crack down on clinics such as Biogenesis. Big Pharma has been reaping a bonanza off HGH as civilian sales have skyrocketed. Last year, U.S. sales of HGH topped $1.4 billion, the AP found — more than drug companies made off penicillin or prescription allergy meds. This despite the fact that endocrinologists estimate fewer than 45,000 people in the nation actually suffer from FDA-approved maladies for the drug. The reason is simple: The feds have stopped prosecuting anti-aging clinics, and many people believe the drug is a fountain of youth despite a lack of medical evidence and warnings it might lead to cancerous growths and diabetes.

"It's an easy ruse. People equate hormones with youth," Dr. Tom Perls, an HGH critic and Boston University researcher, told the AP. "It's a marketing dream come true."

But in the end, that might not be the point. There's no question that virtually every drug Biogenesis sold has been banned by every professional sport in America.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink