Drug supplier at centre of Rodriguez doping scandal agrees to plead guilty
Anthony Bosch will admit distributing testosterone to professional athletes and students
The owner of a defunct Florida anti-ageing clinic at the centre of a doping scandal that led to the suspension of Major League Baseball superstar Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez has agreed to plead guilty to distributing testosterone, according to federal court documents filed.
The US government filed criminal charges against Anthony Bosch and six others tied to the clinic, where federal prosecutors allege professional athletes paid as much as US$12,000 per month for testosterone-filled syringes and creams.
Bosch, who faced one count of conspiracy to distribute testosterone, a felony that could mean 10 years in prison, would possibly get a lesser sentence under terms of a plea deal.
Bosch was released on a US$100,000 bond, ESPN said.
The first federal criminal charges filed in one of US sports' biggest doping scandals also ensnared Yuri Sucart, a cousin of Rodriguez, the New York Yankees slugger and baseball's highest paid player, now suspended for the 2014 season.
None of the dozen or so players who were suspended in the fallout from the scandal involving the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic faced criminal charges.
Officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Attorney's Office in Miami said they were continuing to investigate the network used to supply performance-enhancing drugs to athletes.
"Professional athletes who use drugs to enhance their performance are not heroes, they are cheaters," south Florida US attorney Wifredo Ferrer said. "As with many drug cases, these defendants were motivated by one thing - by money."
The discovery of the repeated doping in baseball and among top players is an embarrassment for the league, which had vowed to clean up the sport after widespread steroids use over the past decades.
Other prominent players suspended in baseball's investigation into the doping scandal were Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who was the National League's most valuable player in 2011; Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz; Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres and Jhonny Peralta of the St Louis Cardinals.
Authorities say Bosch, who introduced himself as "Dr T", told players the drugs would not be detected in doping tests. He also supplied them to college and high school athletes, charging US$250 to US$600 per month.
He, Sucart and another codefendant were also involved in providing performance-enhancing drugs to youths in the Dominican Republic hoping to be drafted by US baseball teams, authorities said.
"He is not a doctor," Mark Trouville, chief of the Miami Drug Enforcement Administration office, said of Bosch. "He is a drug dealer."
Bosch, 50, surrendered to federal officials on Tuesday. Shackled and dressed in a white buttoned-up shirt, he entered a not-guilty plea for procedural reasons, said his lawyer Guy Lewis.
Bosch and most of the others charged were expected to be released after posting bond.
Sucart, 52, who authorities say recruited professional baseball players for Bosch, remained in jail over questions about his Dominican Republic citizenship. He has been living in Miami and was charged with multiple counts over the distribution of testosterone.
The probe also uncovered a separate drug operation involving the club drug known as Molly, a form of Ecstasy.
Carlos Javier Acevedo, 35, Bosch's former business partner, was charged in the doping scandal and the club drug case, authorities said.