On the same day Sports Illustrated broke down a wonder-drug company involving Ray Lewis, an investigation by the Miami New Times has uncovered a local drug lab that sold human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs — and that listed several active Major League Baseball players among its clients. Both stories compound the lingering reality that no Hall of Fame snubs or Lance Armgstrong-style admissions may ever stop the larger modern problem in professional or amateur sports.
The Miami lab, known as Biogenesis, no longer exits, but it billed itself as an anti-aging clinic offering non-traditional treatments for those looking to feel younger and more vibrant. Office records turned over to the paper by a former employee reveal thousands of dollars in payments that were credited to baseball players like Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon, and Melky Cabrera. All three have admitted to or have been found guilty of using banned substances.
There are other baseball players, as well as other athletes, named in the story who have not yet been caught up in failed drug tests or other scandals. As for Rodriguez, he previously claimed that he used PEDs for a brief window between 2001 and 2003, but that he's been clean ever since. Biogenesis only opened in 2009, and was shuttered just last month.
The story, by reporter Tim Elfrink, chronicles the sordid history of the firm's founder and chief practitioner, a man named Anthony Bosch. The son of a doctor, both Bosches were linked to Manny Ramirez back in 2009 when Ramirez received a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. Bosch simply shut down his company and restarted it under a new name. The son is not a doctor and can't prescribe medicines, but still sold HGH and other questionable medicines to athletes. While the clients may not have broken the rules of their sports, the murky legal world of some of the drugs suggests that Bosch may not have even been breaking the law.
The whole operation bears a striking resemblance to BALCO, the San Francisco-based health lab that fueled Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and other championship athletes. Except Biogenesis may seems to have made even less of an effort to hide its true purpose, according the New Times:
"He sold HGH and steroids," says the clinic's former secretary. "Everyone who worked there knew that was what our business was."
On the same day that the New-Times released their investigation, a Sports Illustrated story went online about a mysterious company offering "steroid-free" supplements and wonder cures meant to help athletes reach their full potential. The men behind that company, S.W.A.T.S., followed an equally dubious paths to their medical miracles. One of the founders is an admitted steroids dealer who lost a judgement against an athlete who suspended after using one of his products—a deer antler spray that actually contained a banned substance. (Ground-up antler velvet is alleged to be a natural alternative to anabolic steroids, but is still banned by many leagues, because the products containing it are rarely pure.)
Instead of paying the judgment, the founder simply a started a new company under a different name. Yet just this season S.W.A.T.S. was visited by linebacker Ray Lewis, who was trying to recover from an injury in order to make one last run at the Super Bowl—the game he will start in on Sunday.
The S.W.A.T.S. team also lured college football players to their hotel room before the BCS Championship Game to give them bracelets and hologram stickers that they claimed would deflect the negative frequencies generated by cellphones in the crowd. They wowed the players with a demonstration of the hologram's power that is actually a cheap carnival trick. There are just as many YouTube videos debunking the "balance test" as there are actual demonstrations of it.
While the two outfits chose different paths to reach their clients—once selling illegal medicine, the other bunk science—both stories prove two overwhelming truths about the world of sports: People will sell athletes anything if they think it can make them rich; and athletes will pay anything to make themselves better. And in all the instances, the powers that be are helpless to stop them. The Biogenesis files list numerous athletes who supposedly purchased banned substances, but were never caught and don't seem worried that they ever might be. Just two weeks ago, some of the greatest players in the history of baseball were denied entry to the Hall of Fame because of their association with steroids, yet in 2012 a clinic that barely attempts to hide the fact that it sells PEDs can still count active ball players among its clients. Even as Lance Armstrong is shamed and ridiculed and stripped of all his titles and glory, some the best athletes in sport continue to bend the rules for an edge.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of all is how brazen these companies and their clients are. Rodriguez's cousin was already banned from all baseball clubhouse, because of his association with PEDs, yet A-Rod continued to associate with him and even had him buying drugs from Biogenesis. Much like Armstrong, athletes will never fear the drug tests as much as they fear losing.