Yankees star A-Rod named other players in Biogenesis scandal

ByMike Fish ESPN logo
Thursday, September 14, 2023

Before Alex Rodriguez flipped the switch on his defiant, longtime drug-cheat image ... before the post-career entrepreneurial whirl and frolic across the celebrity landscape with superstar then-fiancée Jennifer Lopez ... before the TV gigs with Fox Sports and ESPN and a failed attempt to purchase the New York Mets followed by the successful bid for a minority piece of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA's Minnesota Lynx ... before all that, A-Rod had to finally come clean about his sordid past.

Here's how it unfolded.

Nearly a decade ago, the then-New York Yankees third baseman walked into a beige-and-glass building in the affluent master-planned community of Weston, Florida, situated along the Everglades about 22 miles west of Fort Lauderdale. He had been summoned there on Jan. 29, 2014, for an interview inside the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Miami Division offices. Alongside his attorney, Rodriguez's audience that day would include two assistant U.S. attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice and seven DEA agents, among them the federal agency's regional boss and his top assistant.

Less than three weeks earlier, Rodriguez had been suspended by Major League Baseball's independent arbitrator for the entire upcoming 2014 season, for being a drug cheat and, even more damning, for attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation of him and his ties to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing doping scandal. Despite his perennial All-Star status, Rodriguez had long been one of the game's polarizing figures, and by this time in 2014, he was an old 38, fresh off two hip surgeries, and with a reputation in tatters as he was about to forgo $25 million in salary from the Yankees.

The federal agents didn't care much about any of that; they were trying to untangle the Biogenesis of America drug-dealing operation of which A-Rod was a central figure -- even though he and other pro athletes caught up in the investigation were never criminal targets. Rodriguez set foot in the DEA office that day armed with prosecutor-granted "Queen for a Day" status, meaning that whatever he shared with authorities could not be used against him in later legal proceedings. Still, though, he had to tell the truth or he faced potential serious charges of lying to federal agents.

And what he said behind closed doors that day, as well as what other people caught up in the DEA's 21-month federal investigation of Biogenesis told agents, paints a starkly darker image than the confident, smiling A-Rod seen these days after the completion of one of the greatest image makeovers in American sports history. Details gleaned from the investigation make the two-way amour with Major League Baseball as a front-and-center announcer and ambassador seem even more unlikely.

Alongside A-Rod that late January day sat the combative Joe Tacopina, a well-known New York lawyer who has since surfaced as lead attorney for former President Donald Trump in a few cases, including the headline-grabbing case tied to alleged hush-money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

The A-Rod legal team knew a truth-telling session with the feds brought risks, but, in a fortuitous twist of fate, it came after his arbitration hearing with Major League Baseball. Had it come earlier, feds might have shared information with MLB officials that could have hurt his arbitration case.

Even as he approached the arbitration hearing, A-Rod hadn't been truthful to his legal team, sources close to the case told ESPN. His legal team wasn't naive enough to accept that he had never used PEDs, but it had bought into his claim that Biogenesis clinic operator Tony Bosch was a liar who had been propped up and used by Major League Baseball to take down A-Rod.

Leading up to A-Rod's arbitration, Tacopina spoke during a national TV appearance about baseball's weak evidence, confidently predicting his client would not "serve one inning of a suspension, as opposed to 211 games."

Tacopina recently told ESPN this of A-Rod: He had always maintained that "Bosch is full of s---, Bosch is full of s---."

A meeting with federal agents -- in which the stakes were much higher -- was seen as problematic and thus was put off as long as possible. One A-Rod team member told ESPN, "Everybody knew that once the DEA required an interview of Alex it was game over, because he was going to have to admit to everything he did."

In his sit-down with the federal agents, Rodriguez admitted, for the first time, using performance-enhancing drugs purchased from Bosch; a fact Rodriguez had continued to vehemently deny in the days after the arbitrator's decision, which led to his attorneys filing short-lived lawsuits against MLB and the players' union. But even more, interview notes from DEA investigative files obtained by ESPN for the first time provide exhaustive detail on the relationship between A-Rod and Bosch: how they connected, the cat-and-mouse game successfully played in beating drug tests, their eventual ugly fallout and a futile attempted cover-up. The federal documents also reveal other well-known athletes previously unknown to be in the investigative record.

The unredacted documents spell out the extreme lengths A-Rod and his camp pursued to obstruct and discredit Major League Baseball's investigation, how the Yankees' third baseman initially tried to buy off Bosch, and how Rodriguez ultimately resorted to desperate, scorched-earth tactics to preserve his reputation. According to the records, Team A-Rod paid for Bosch's Miami-based attorneys' fees -- accompanied by bogus public denials from Bosch and A-Rod that Bosch had ever treated or advised the ballplayer -- as well as paid for the purchase of drugs for Bosch's remaining athlete clients when his clinic closed. Depending on the version witnesses told to federal agents, either A-Rod's group also offered -- or Bosch requested -- hundreds of thousands of dollars for him to leave the country at the height of the MLB investigation.

In the end, documents reveal that MLB officials believed Bosch felt threatened enough by A-Rod's camp that the commissioner's office paid almost $2 million for its star witness's personal security, a figure that grew to twice what was originally agreed upon. The cooperative agreement with Bosch ultimately cost MLB more than $5 million, including other expenses such as attorney fees and for a time hiding him out in high-end hotels and million-dollar condos around Miami.

The documents obtained by ESPN include roughly 1,400 pages of DEA notes from the federal investigation into the largest doping program in American sports, which officially began a decade ago. Internally known as DEA-6 reports, the files serve as a record of the agency's drug-distribution investigation and consist of federal agents' notes from interviews conducted with a dozen professional athletes, Biogenesis clients and employees, and confidential sources, as well as briefs from surveillance operations (some using DEA helicopters), undercover buys and executed search warrants. The documents, combined with exclusive reporting by ESPN, present the most complete record of Rodriguez's involvement in the scandal.

According to the documents, Rodriguez:

  • Added into the investigative record the names of three former or then-current players he said Bosch had identified to him as PED clients: Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun and another All-Star player. That player was the lone one not already on federal investigators' radar -- he never tested positive for any PED use, was never interviewed by authorities and was never suspended by MLB. ESPN was unable to reach the player through his agent. The agent said Biogenesis was not something any of his clients would want to revisit.
  • Acknowledged typically paying Bosch $12,000 a month for doping protocols fueled by testosterone creams, red, gummy-like lozenges containing testosterone and human growth hormone between late in the 2010 season through October 2012. Rodriguez also told federal agents that his cousin Yuri Sucart Sr. had been the source of PEDs dating back at least a decade. Sucart declined comment for this story.
  • Made cash-only payments to Bosch to conceal involvement with the hormone specialist and anti-aging clinic operator. Rodriguez told agents he wrote checks from his business account to Sucart, who initially acted as a middleman funneling cash to Bosch. In other instances, Rodriguez said payments were made via "petty cash" obtained from the team secretary traveling with the Yankees, who was unaware how the money drawn against A-Rod's paycheck was being used.
  • Told authorities he eventually fired Sucart after a forensic accounting analysis of his bank accounts revealed his cousin "frivolously spent approximately $250,000 to $500,000" of his money without approval.
  • Revealed that Sucart had demanded -- on Christmas Eve 2012 -- $5 million as payment for not exposing Rodriguez's dealings with Bosch to Major League Baseball. A-Rod told federal agents that he subsequently reached a confidential financial agreement with Sucart for not divulging his personal business. Sucart's camp suggests it was A-Rod who first proposed a confidential agreement earlier in the month, although the parties couldn't initially agree on financial terms.
  • A-Rod also relayed sensitive personal information about Sucart that had the effect of bringing other people into the federal investigative record -- including identification of his married cousin's girlfriend.
  • Acknowledged lying to New York Yankees president Randy Levine when he called in November 2012 -- about a month before the Biogenesis scandal erupted -- to ask whether A-Rod "knew anything about Bosch." A-Rod responded that he didn't have "any relationship with Bosch."
  • When MLB interviewed Rodriguez several months after the November call, he declined to answer questions about his involvement with Bosch on Fifth Amendment grounds.
  • Revealed to agents that Bosch had labeled his testosterone levels "low for a man of his age" after blood analysis. Although not part of the doping protocol, Rodriguez volunteered that he also illegally received Cialis and Viagra from Bosch, telling the investigators it was for "fun."

At the height of the Biogenesis investigation, CBS' "60 Minutes" had also reported that A-Rod's inner circle had leaked documents first connecting his then-Yankees teammate Francisco Cervelli and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun to the doping scandal. The report said his camp leaked the documents to Yahoo Sports -- a claim Rodriguez denied.

Cervelli declined comment when reached by ESPN. Braun declined comment through his father as well as through his longtime agent.

The scorched-earth strategy employed by A-Rod's PR team brought near daily drama. A source close to Rodriguez referred to it as "absolutely jihad against MLB." The antagonism ranged from accusing the Yankees of having provided him shoddy medical care to personal attacks against the likes of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and top MLB leaders.

"He basically did everything he could to distract from his own behavior," a Yankees source said of A-Rod.

The source added: "I mean, Alex is a complicated person. He had a lot of layers to him, and I think he's remorseful, but he did some bad things to a lot of people."

Rodriguez, a baseball analyst with ESPN since the 2018 season, declined comment for this story. Multiple requests were made over the past six months through his publicist, Ron Berkowitz. At one point, Berkowitz asked a reporter to email an overview of the story as well as a sampling of potential questions; after which, the publicist never responded to phone messages or email.

"I mean, Alex is working on his own documentary," Berkowitz offered at one point. "He's working on a book. My guess is he's not going to give anybody anything and if he does anything, it's going to go on his thing."

It has since been reported that Rodriguez is working with Gotham Chopra, who directed Tom Brady's docuseries "Man in the Arena."

It was little more than a decade ago that Rodriguez found himself at the center of the federal criminal case after baseball officials approached the DEA with information connecting Bosch and Sucart -- A-Rod's cousin and personal handler. Several players had recently been suspended after failed drug tests due to elevated testosterone levels -- testosterone described at A-Rod's arbitration hearing by current commissioner Rob Manfred as the "mother of all anabolics."

The DEA investigation led to eight convictions, including of Bosch, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute testosterone and was sentenced to four years in federal prison but was released in late 2016 and remained on probation another three years. His sentence was reduced because of his cooperation with authorities.

No athletes or users were charged by authorities.

"Our focus was on the distributors and the suppliers of the drugs," said Mark Trouville, the DEA special agent in charge of the Florida office during the Biogenesis investigation. "The DEA doesn't work cases to go after users. ... We're looking for people who are distributing drugs. We're never concerned about the consumer."

Ultimately, the investigation would affect almost everyone it touched. Not only the professional athletes and dealers but also a cadre of respected professionals entangled in unsavory tactics -- including doctors and lawyers, personal trainers and talent agents, and from the players' union right up to the commissioner's office.

Rodriguez's name appears throughout the DEA documents, even outside of the pages detailing his 2014 interview.

In one of Bosch's many interviews with investigators during the federal case, he told authorities Rodriguez and another All-Star player were the source of a testosterone cream -- with levels designed to avoid detection -- that Bosch later distributed to players. Bosch said A-Rod brought him the cream, which he claimed to have received from the player and asked if he could "emulate what it was." Bosch said he created a similar cream after sending it to a lab for analysis and gave a less greasy version of it to Rodriguez. He further told authorities that A-Rod shared his creation with the All-Star player.

Rodriguez had met with federal authorities four months before Bosch's revelation about origins of the testosterone cream, and it does not appear authorities circled back with A-Rod on the anti-aging clinic operator's claim.

An ESPN reporter asked Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred whether he'd heard anything about what Bosch had told federal agents regarding origins of the testosterone cream, and he said he had not.

The agent for the player A-Rod named said: "Alex talks so much s--- to everybody, you never know what Alex said. He's always talking s---, man."

Early on, Bosch told authorities that Rodriguez "took twice as much as the others" in terms of substances he supplied the players, citing as an example that A-Rod every month purchased two tubes of a cream containing 10% testosterone -- other players just one.

Bosch showed up for another interview with federal agents toting a gray Nordstrom bag containing a vial of what the clinic operator said he believed was Rodriguez's blood. Bosch told authorities he initially kept the blood sample in his Coral Gables office and subsequently stored it in a centrifuge inside his truck for four or five months before turning it over to one of his attorneys.

Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharad Motiani why, if it was linked to A-Rod, he hadn't given it to Major League Baseball, Bosch said that he informed baseball officials about it before the arbitration hearing with Rodriguez but that they never requested it.

In an interview with the DEA, an ex-wife of Bosch's said he boasted about "making a lot of money off" of his star player, which led her to request an increase in child support paid by Bosch.

The Miami-based clinic operator's former girlfriend told investigators that Bosch described Rodriguez as his "highest-paying client" and told them she had driven Bosch to treat Rodriguez at his then-offseason Miami Beach residence. After leaving, the former girlfriend said, Bosch told her of A-Rod becoming upset after he pricked him a couple of times trying to find a vein. Bosch said that there was "blood everywhere" and that an agitated A-Rod told him he didn't know what he was doing and asked him to leave.

Two clinic staffers also told of driving Bosch to connect with Rodriguez. One described a late-night trip to meet A-Rod, falling asleep in her car as she waited and Bosch returning with a "bundle/wad" of cash -- giving her $300. Another told of driving Bosch to a Starbucks, where he met and received money from A-Rod.

Carlos Acevedo, a one-time Biogenesis partner also convicted in the DEA probe, told of Bosch having him deliver PEDs for A-Rod in Boston and Los Angeles.

The documents show that a confidential source told investigators that Bosch advised him of Dr. Anthony Galea, the Canadian doctor who in 2011 pleaded guilty to bringing growth hormone and other medicines across the border to treat pro athletes, being at Rodriguez's residence during one of Bosch's visits -- and that Bosch said Galea discussed new, undetectable drugs.

Galea's attorney, Brian Greenspan, declined comment for this story, but previously, Galea denied ever treating A-Rod with anything other than anti-inflammatory medicine after Rodriguez's first hip surgery in 2009.

In early 2009, Alex Rodriguez wasn't yet on Bosch's radar when Bosch reunited with an old Miami pal, Jorge "Ugi" Velazquez. Velazquez, a former amateur boxer with deep Miami connections, owned a liquor store and later would become Bosch's primary supplier of drugs and medicines -- a role for which he, too, would go to prison. Bosch said the two once ran in the same social circles, even dated some of the same women. They reconnected over Velazquez's desire to lose weight.

A few months after they reunited, though, Velazquez stopped by an early Bosch clinic, which was set up in a dental office, with another weight-loss patient, Yuri Sucart Sr. -- a cousin 13 years older than Rodriguez, who had served as the star's personal assistant since he first hit the big leagues as an 18-year-old. "Ugi goes, 'I have a friend. Treat him good. He is special,'" Bosch told ESPN of the meeting, which was detailed to federal investigators and during MLB's arbitration hearing with Rodriguez.

Bosch told ESPN he suspects he was being tested by the Rodriguez camp. He said Sucart showed up for weekly appointments wearing an assortment of New York Yankees gear: shorts, jersey, cap and eventually a World Series ring. Later, Sucart acknowledged being A-Rod's well-compensated assistant. Over time, the cousin grew comfortable enough to push the conversation to how an athlete might use human growth hormone and how best to mix it, Bosch said.

In a future visit, Sucart asked for a few of Bosch's signature troches or "gummies" containing low levels of testosterone -- which ultimately ended up in the hands of Rodriguez, according to Bosch's and Rodriguez's interviews with federal investigators. A-Rod later told federal investigators he experienced an "energy boost" after placing the small red, gummy-like squares under his tongue. Bosch told authorities word from the cousin was that they made A-Rod feel like "Superman."

By late July 2010, with Velazquez and the cousin as middlemen, Bosch was invited to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where the Yankees and Rodriguez were in town for a three-game series with the Rays. In the hotel where A-Rod was staying, Bosch told authorities he saw Velazquez and Sucart with actress Cameron Diaz, the ballplayer's then-girlfriend. He told the two men he wasn't discussing business in Diaz's presence.

Bosch told federal agents that under the cover of darkness, he was then ushered by Velazquez and Sucart -- with the actress out of the picture -- to a private sit-down in the ballplayer's hotel suite. Bosch told investigators he ran through a smorgasbord of substances he might use if they were to strike up a business relationship: testosterone cream, troches, human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 and designer peptides. He described an attentive Rodriguez taking notes on an iPad or laptop.

For his part, Rodriguez told the authorities that Bosch introduced himself as "Dr. Tony Bosch" and claimed to have treated "hundreds" of baseball players. He said Bosch referred to himself as a "wizard." At the time, Rodriguez said he wanted to lose 5 to 10 pounds (A-Rod told agents Bosch described him as "fat" after pulling up his shirt) as well as address pain brought on by injuries. He also was looking to spike his energy. He said Bosch suggested the hormone injections would help with everything from sleep and hair growth to muscle recovery and improved eyesight.

A-Rod recalled Bosch saying he was "not a rat" and wouldn't break if approached by MLB or anyone else.

He bought what the unlicensed Dr. T was selling.

A week later, Bosch told authorities he flew to New York and met Rodriguez -- again accompanied by his cousin and Velazquez -- in the lobby of an apartment building near Central Park. Just after midnight, in a reading room off the lobby, Bosch told investigators, he drew the slugger's blood and then returned to Miami with it for analysis at a laboratory near there. The cousin recommended using the moniker "Cacique" - Spanish for chief or boss -- to protect A-Rod's identity going forward.

Bosch said Rodriguez's initial lab results were indicative of prior PED usage. In testimony under oath at A-Rod's arbitration hearing, Bosch said the baseball superstar's testosterone levels "portrayed someone who was a lot older than Mr. Rodriguez."

Rodriguez had for years denied or downplayed ties to PEDs. In 2007, he told CBS' Katie Couric he had never taken such substances. Two years later, after a report that he had failed the MLB survey test in 2003 while a Texas Ranger, he blamed the screwup on his cousin Sucart, who he said had bought over-the-counter drugs in the Dominican Republic that were tainted. Amid the Biogenesis scandal, A-Rod again sought to discredit and claim to have been duped by his cousin.

During A-Rod's 2013 arbitration hearing, documents were presented revealing Rodriguez had sought and been granted a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone before the 2007 season. TUEs grant a player medical clearance to use what would otherwise be a banned substance and need to be applied for annually. The exemptions are a provision in the Drug Prevention and Treatment Program agreed to by the players' union and owners, with approval granted by a physician who serves as an independent administrator.

Under questioning at the hearing, Manfred read from the document [MLB Exhibit 53] granting A-Rod the exemption. He testified that exemptions for testosterone are "very rare" under the program, saying the cause for low testosterone levels can be related to serious illness such as cancer or, in otherwise healthy young males, triggered by prior prolonged steroid use that can suppress natural testosterone production.

There is nothing in arbitration documents detailing why Rodriguez was granted an exemption to use a banned substance. Nor is it clear whether he had ever received another TUE.

Another document, however, was produced at the arbitration revealing denial of a 2008 request by A-Rod to use hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin] -- a female fertility drug also used to kick-start testosterone production. Manfred testified that he remembered the denial being a "record-keeping thing" as the request had been withdrawn because the player was "no longer using the substance in question."

A-Rod reported to camp before the 2007 season having reduced his body fat from 16% to 9%. At season's end, he claimed his third and final American League Most Valuable Player Award, leading the majors with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs. Only Barry Bonds has captured more MVP awards (seven) in baseball history.

Manfred, who oversaw the MLB's Biogenesis investigation while at the time serving as baseball's chief operating officer, declined comment when asked by ESPN about Rodriguez having been granted an exemption to use testosterone.

Rodriguez, who has since become a leading symbol of a corrupted baseball era, came off as contrite during a 2009 ESPN interview in response to the report about his failed drug test, citing the enormous pressure he felt after signing a mega-contract with the Rangers as well as portraying the game as enjoying a looser culture at the time. He cast himself as "young ... stupid ... naive." He further noted: "I don't need any of that [PEDs] ... all my years in New York have been clean."

In his memoir, "For the Good of the Game," former MLB commissioner Bud Selig wrote of the sit-down TV interview, "A-Rod was about as sincere as a snake-oil salesman."

Not long after Rodriguez delivered his mea culpa on ESPN, federal documents reveal he was back hunting an edge, this time putting his faith in Bosch -- an unlicensed hormone guru propped up by a network of dirty doctors willing to write bogus prescriptions as well as suppliers with access to black-market drugs. Bosch found time for his star client, even as his own personal and professional life spiraled dangerously downward. He acknowledged blowing money on cocaine and his go-to scotch, The Glenlivet 18.

Several people interviewed by federal authorities described Bosch as unable to keep a secret, freely yapping about his athlete clientele -- none more so than Rodriguez.

Still, Rodriguez remained a believer until the end. Bosch traveled to care for him in-season and was never far from his side as Rodriguez chilled in South Florida during the winter. They routinely connected after midnight to accommodate the ballplayer's schedule. Rodriguez told investigators that Bosch often delivered PEDs to the mailbox at his West Village townhouse in New York and his Miami Beach residence, and Rodriguez once stashed a $12,000 cash payment in the mailbox of his South Florida home.

As part of its investigation, MLB officials found that in advance of one of those deliveries, Bosch received a text from A-Rod advising not to "tell anyone your full name." Before Bosch treated Rodriguez at an Atlanta hotel during the 2012 baseball season, Rodriguez said in a message: "Try to use the service elevators. Careful. Tons of eyes."

Between March 2012 and the scandal breaking publicly by year's end, A-Rod and Bosch exchanged more than 500 text messages, according to documents from Rodriguez's MLB arbitration hearing. They spoke another 53 times on the phone. Substances were generally identified in text as "food" and more specific code names like gummies (troches containing testosterone), pink food (cream containing testosterone), liquid soup or red liquid (liquefied form of testosterone troche), and cohete or rocket (syringe containing human growth hormone or IGF-1).

Unlike Melky Cabrera and Ryan Braun, Rodriguez never failed a drug test on Bosch's watch. Documents from MLB's arbitration hearing revealed the league drug-tested Rodriguez at least 10 times while he was with Bosch.

Case in point: Bosch told federal investigators of a time when A-Rod was down in the dumps, his bat slow and at-bats harder to come by, when he called from Detroit during the 2012 American League Championship Series. Bosch hopped a flight from South Florida. He entered the Yankees' team hotel in Detroit through a back door. He told ESPN, as well as in testimony at A-Rod's arbitration hearing, that he was led to Rodriguez's suite by Rodriguez's then-girlfriend, fitness model and former pro wrestler Torrie Wilson.

Rodriguez told federal authorities Bosch injected him twice - Oct. 16 and 18 -- during the series with a red liquid substance he thought contained vitamins. Bosch said it contained "growth hormone and some peptides." Rodriguez told federal authorities that, while he was still in Detroit, then-longtime Yankees trainer Steve Donohue called to inform him he was to be drug-tested. Documents from A-Rod's arbitration hearing indicate he was tested Oct. 17.

Rodriguez passed the urine test.

When they first connected, A-Rod said Bosch offered tips on how to beat MLB's drug testing. Among them: Use only midstream urine as a sample, thus avoiding using beginning or end urine stream in the collection sample. Several players revealed hearing the same advice from Bosch.

Under questioning from federal investigators, Rodriguez said his doping protocol was driven by three substances: human growth hormone injections, two creams -- a white testosterone cream applied at night and a cream applied in the morning that was designed to bring his testosterone levels back to normal -- and testosterone gummies he would place behind his bottom lip 30 minutes before a game. He described experiencing a "pop of energy."

Bosch told investigators of a more researched, scientific approach, one mixing and matching substances. He claimed to routinely have consulted and reviewed lab work with neurologists and endocrinologists. Micro-dosing and fast-acting substances were emphasized to avoid detection. Syringes were dummy-proof, preloaded and neatly marked for Rodriguez, as well as for other players.

He said not only did Rodriguez dissolve a testosterone gummy in his mouth leading up to game time but the Yankees star also learned to inject himself with a small syringe delivering IGF-1 and vitamins. He mentioned regular use of the peptide CJC 1295. DHEA was taken in the evening. Amino acids daily as needed. All of this shows up in Biogenesis clinic notebooks.

Bosch told federal investigators about his extensive use of peptides and human growth hormone for athletes. He told ESPN that growth hormone was at the core of his doping protocols, although rather than always using the real thing, he dabbled with GHRP -- a designer peptide that triggers the body to naturally increase production of growth hormone. Bosch said what separated him from other doping gurus was a reliance on peptide synthesis.

"So, if they would have drawn blood for HGH, they wouldn't have found it," Bosch said of peptide use. "Classic case of misdirection."

Bosch described a rigorous offseason program for Rodriguez, to see what worked and to hone the dosages so as to avoid blowing a drug test.

"We were going to try a new [doping] protocol, so I would be at his house at 6 a.m.," Bosch told ESPN. "It was me and Yuri [Sucart Sr.]. So, we wake him up and draw blood. And then he will go back to sleep. I would immediately ship the blood on ice, dry ice or whatever, to a lab. So, by the afternoon I had the results."

After shipping the initial blood sample, Bosch would return later in the morning and wake Rodriguez. "I would say, 'Go eat the No. 1 breakfast.' We had containers that said No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 with dates. Then, there was a [subcutaneous] injection he had to take at that time. He would put on his cream. And then within 45 minutes I would do a saliva test. And then two hours later I would do another saliva test. He would spit through the straw into a plastic tube. Then, he would go train.

"And then, take the gummy right before. Then, I would do another saliva test. After the training, I would draw the blood again.

"We would document what he did. He had to write in a journal. He would write everything: 'This is what I did, this is what I ate, drank.' Everything was deliberate. And at the end of the day, I had all these results. And I would see how he metabolized the medication. And then depending on the metabolism, it [impacted] the dosages. That is how I would fix the dosages.

"Then, we would do a game day. So, OK, if it is a 1 o'clock game, you got to be there by 10. So, I would pretend I am the drug tester: 'Piss here, please.' And then I would take it to my lab under a fictitious name. Then, the lab results would come back. 'OK, good, you're clean.' So literally, if you follow the protocol, guess what -- you are foolproof. Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, but 99.9."

But did the elaborate doping routine really enhance Rodriguez's performance? By this time, he was old and brittle by baseball standards, so the PEDs might have helped keep him on the field, even though that is debatable as he played just 99 games in 2011 and 122 a year later. A quick study of his two-plus seasons under Bosch's watch -- approximately Aug. 6, 2010, through the 2012 season -- reveals A-Rod hit .276 with a modest, by his standards, 47 homers in 257 games. And in five postseason series during the Bosch era, covering 21 games and 75 at-bats, A-Rod proved the antithesis of Mr. October, hitting a paltry .160 with two extra-base hits -- neither one with enough pop to leave the yard.

As soon as A-Rod was linked to the Biogenesis scandal in January 2013, the documents portray him and his camp as having the will -- as well as the obvious financial capital -- to fight a possible suspension. A source close to Rodriguez described the fight with baseball as fair, saying: "They probably didn't think Alex had the balls to do what he did and be as aggressive."

Jose "Pepe" Gomez, Rodriguez's close friend and business partner, told federal authorities that he paid $4,000 and used back-channel connections to obtain stolen Biogenesis notebooks that contained mention of Rodriguez and his doping protocols. Gomez, who met authorities accompanied by Joe Tacopina, Rodriguez's attorney, said he acted without A-Rod's knowledge.

Gomez acknowledged the purchase was made "to kill the story."

In January 2013, just days after a Miami New Times story identified A-Rod as a Bosch client, Rodriguez told authorities one of Bosch's attorneys, Susy Ribero-Ayala, reached out to his attorney seeking a $500,000 retainer. Rodriguez said his then-attorney, prominent Miami defense lawyer Roy Black, negotiated $25,000 to cover Bosch's initial legal fees, which A-Rod wired to the attorney's bank account.

Subsequently, Bosch's camp issued what proved to be a blatantly false statement denying Bosch ever treated Rodriguez -- a statement drafted by one of A-Rod's attorneys. The emboldened A-Rod camp followed with its own public relations salvo, saying: "Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him."

Bosch later told federal authorities he and Rodriguez initially remained on the same page, noting that A-Rod covered the cost of about two months' worth of performance-enhancing substances that were needed to supply Bosch's 20-plus remaining athletes when the scandal broke, saying it was to "keep [Bosch] happy" so he would not open his mouth about A-Rod's involvement. He said most of the substances were provided by his regular supplier, Jorge "Ugi" Velazquez, who Bosch told authorities was tied to a larger "Russian mob" steroid distribution network in South Florida.

Bosch told authorities Velazquez provided him a "throwaway" phone to keep in touch after the Biogenesis scandal broke.

Documents suggest Velazquez later acted to protect Rodriguez as the federal and MLB investigations gained steam. Most telling was a recorded meeting between Carlos Acevedo, a former Bosch partner and at this point identified in documents as a government confidential source, and Velazquez, who had ties to Bosch and to the Rodriguez camp. The conversation took place inside the government source's white Honda, parked outside an Old Navy store north of Miami on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 2014.

Before the meeting, authorities placed in the white Honda two devices capable of recording both audio and video (Exhibits N-291 and N-292) as well as three audio-only recording devices (Exhibits N-293 through N-295). A government surveillance detail also watched over the scene.

According to documents, Velazquez told Acevedo, the government's source, that he wasn't going to cooperate with the government and suggested he contact Bosch and "to have Bosch not cooperate with law enforcement."

Velazquez told Acevedo, "We are f---ing hustlers."

Velazquez claimed to be aware MLB was providing Bosch security for six months at a cost of $3,000 a day. He said the idea that Bosch and his girlfriend were being threatened was "all bulls---."

Velazquez said he was going to "f---" Bosch's credibility. Velazquez claimed to have gotten his hands on four years of computer files, emails and other potential evidence tied to Bosch's clinic, including Ryan Braun's blood work, and that he had Bosch "by the f---ing balls."

If Bosch identified him as his supplier, Velazquez said he would claim to have scammed Bosch and supplied "f---ing grapeseed oil" rather than real product.

The confidential source told authorities that Velazquez later said he was working with A-Rod's attorneys, saying he referred to them as "lawyers in N.Y."

Charles P. Scheeler, a lawyer working for Major League Baseball, advised federal prosecutors that several A-Rod associates -- Velazquez being the only one identified by name -- "continued to make promises and threats" to attempt to induce Bosch into denying his relationship with Rodriguez." Scheeler revealed that MLB, in addition to providing Bosch with security, later also provided security for some senior executives during the Rodriguez arbitration hearing.

Scheeler told authorities that Velazquez warned Bosch after the Biogenesis story broke in the media not to contact A-Rod directly or "there would be consequences." He also advised that Velazquez had tried to pressure Bosch into signing a false affidavit in which he would deny having any involvement in or knowledge of A-Rod's use of performance-enhancing substances. A-Rod's camp said Bosch was asked only to sign an affidavit repeating what he said during a brief April 2013 ESPN on-camera interview, labeling himself a nutritionist and adding, "I don't know anything about performance-enhancing drugs."

Rodriguez would later downplay ties to Velazquez, telling federal authorities he had seen him only a handful of times and didn't have a relationship with him.

During Rodriguez's interview with federal investigators in January 2014, attorney Joe Tacopina asked his client to leave the room, then revealed that A-Rod's team had paid $200,000 to Gary Jones, a convicted felon, for flash drives containing additional copies of stolen Biogenesis notebooks as well as a video recording of an earlier meeting between Jones and an MLB investigator, who had himself met twice with the ex-con and paid $150,000 cash on baseball's behalf for copies of the same stolen clinic documents.

Court filings reveal Jones provided A-Rod's camp with an invoice that stated that the clinic notebooks were, in fact, stolen. On Sept. 30, 2013, the same day Jones was wired $200,000 as payment for the stolen documents, he signed a sworn, notarized affidavit saying he had earlier tried selling records to "Major League Baseball Players, including Alex Rodriguez, but they all refused to buy any documents."

The stolen, unredacted Biogenesis medical records, which A-Rod's attorneys turned over to authorities after his interview, were later at the center of an invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro "Lazer" Collazo against Rodriguez, his friend/business partner Pepe Gomez and Guidepost Solutions, a private investigative firm hired by the A-Rod camp. The parties reached a confidential settlement in January 2022.

Once in possession of the records, A-Rod's camp was alleged to have coerced Collazo to sign an affidavit critical of MLB's investigative efforts under the threat that it would otherwise publicly expose his medical records as well as those of other family members treated by Bosch, according to Collazo's attorney, Frank Quintero Jr. "There was a meeting [with Collazo] -- two lawyers and an investigator," Quintero told ESPN. "They basically threatened him with disclosing the medical records unless he signed an affidavit for them."

Collazo ultimately pleaded guilty in the Biogenesis case to two misdemeanor charges of buying steroids without a valid prescription.

Collazo recently told ESPN he was hurt by Rodriguez's handling of the situation. They had been friends since childhood. A-Rod used to hang around his house; Collazo's mother, Ana, watched over and fed him. Collazo later brought him around the Miami program during his coaching days.

When the Biogenesis scandal broke, Collazo said A-Rod called to remind him of their bond: "Hey, there's some people that are going to be calling you from the major leagues. We've been friends all this time. I can't tell you what to say, but you know what I'm talking about."

Collazo said, "Of course, Alex, I'm never going to throw you -- outside the bus."

"But then, s---, he gets these things [clinic notebooks], and he throws me under the bus," Collazo said. "And we were so close. But he changed. The people that really know Alex, the people who grew up and know Alex, know how much he changed. He changed to a piece of ..."

The kid from the old neighborhood transformed into a grown man fighting for survival.

The aggressive checkbook tactics to derail the investigation continued with Loraine Delgadillo, a former Biogenesis clinic staffer, who told federal agents that Rodriguez's camp paid her $100,000 after learning she once had a sexual relationship with then MLB investigator Dan Mullin. She said a private investigator hired by Rodriguez first offered her estranged husband $10,000 before Delgadillo got wind of the potential windfall and negotiated the $100,000 fee. In return, she provided a signed affidavit, her cellphone, Mullin's business card and a card accompanying flowers sent her. Another $50,000 payday was promised had she been called to testify at Rodriguez's arbitration hearing.

Tacopina, the attorney, told authorities the Rodriguez camp had its limits, though, saying it had turned down a $500,000 proposal from Bosch for him to "disappear." Bosch told federal authorities it was an A-Rod intermediary who made the offer in February 2013, not himself. Bosch soon after signed a cooperation agreement with MLB.

It was never supposed to play out like this for Rodriguez and Bosch.

When they hooked up late in the 2010 season, the duo spoke fancifully of rewriting the baseball record book together.

With A-Rod just days past his 35th birthday and with his 600th dinger in the books, Bosch remembers the talk -- not so far-fetched at the time -- of what might lie ahead.

"He goes 'You and I, we are going to go do the 800 Club,'" Bosch told ESPN.

"I go, '800 Club, what is that?'"

"He goes, 'the 800 Home Run Club.'"

"I thought about it a second, because it caught me off guard. I remember his response. He tells me, 'Stupid, there is no 800 Club. It is only me.'"

According to Bosch, a bonus structure would have paid him $250,000 if Rodriguez passed Barry Bonds (762) on the career list, with another $250K kicking in should the 800 Club become reality. Rodriguez's Yankees contract had payments of $6 million each for reaching 660 (Willie Mays' home run total), 714 (Babe Ruth) and 755 (Hank Aaron), plus for tying and breaking the major league record of 762 home runs. All the fancy science and doping protocols failed to do the trick, though, as a beaten-down A-Rod retired in 2016 -- at the time fourth on the career list -- with 696 homers, the final chapter of his grand career derailed by nagging injuries and a full season surrendered to a drug suspension.

A-Rod claimed solace, though, in having patched things up with Yankees brass, who kept him aboard for two years as a special adviser to the club after he retired in 2016. "That's hitting 800 home runs for me," he said then.

In the end, the combative tussle cost Rodriguez at least $5 million in addition to lost salary -- a substantial sum, yet not a totally imprudent outlay. An impartial arbitrator ultimately reduced the original suspension imposed by the commissioner from 211 to 162 games. A-Rod's salary at the time equated to $154,000 per game, so the additional salary for 49 games was an approximately $7.5 million windfall.

"Yeah, he saved some money," Tacopina said.

The years since have proved a hard-to-imagine transformation for the once scorned ballplayer, dubbed "A-Fraud" by the New York tabloids and lead target of MLB's Biogenesis investigation.

"He was the most vilified guy ever," recalled Tacopina, A-Rod's attorney. "I remember during the [arbitration], I said, 'Did you ever kill somebody or something?' He was persona non grata everywhere. And then all of a sudden -- bing -- like nothing ever happened.

"That's America. In this country we love to build you up, tear you down and then see the comeback. Martha Stewart was the same way. Oh, the darling of America's kitchens and home decor and all this stuff. Then, a fraudster, criminal, everyone hated her, and she made a comeback twice as big. He did the same thing."

Rodriguez was forthright with DEA investigators once they got to him, said Kevin Stanfill, the No. 2 agent in charge of the Biogenesis investigation: "He was a gentleman. He was a true gentleman. Unlike Braun, Alex Rodriguez, he admitted to everything, and he was upfront about it. He took his punishment. I don't think anyone could say that he lied about any of that to us. I mean, because we had our facts, we had everything there and he went right down the line with it and he was honest."

While other top alleged baseball drug cheats Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds skirt the public limelight, A-Rod 2.0 -- who brazenly sued MLB and the players' union at one point -- dashes between networks showcasing his sports knowledge and business acumen. His social media following is robust. His political connections cross party lines, with former President Donald Trump reported to have called seeking his views on the COVID-19 response (Trump claimed it was fake news) and just months later the master of reinvention surfaced at President Joe Biden's inauguration. He's been on the red carpet at the Grammys and Oscars, bagged a Sports Emmy award, held a seat as a business expert on ABC's "Shark Tank," and recently taken a swing at mixed martial arts as an investor and board member for the Professional Fighters League.

The latest media buzz has Rodriguez finalizing a lucrative, exclusive deal with Fox Sports.

His dutifully rebuilt image went up another notch in 2020 when he was named a trustee to the Paley Center for Media, described in a news release as "the entertainment industry's leading nonprofit dedicated to celebrating the cultural, creative, and social significance of media and its impact on society." Fellow trustees include the major pro sports commissioners: Rob Manfred (MLB), Gary Bettman (NHL), Roger Goodell (NFL) and Adam Silver (NBA). Robert A. Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., and ESPN chairman James Pitaro are also trustees.

About the same time, A-Rod and Jennifer Lopez -- still his fiancée at the time -- scored tabloid headlines with a short-lived attempt to purchase the New York Mets, an effort that would have seemed preposterous a decade ago. His very public engagement to J.Lo had even drawn a congratulatory tweet from MLB, now headed by the man who aggressively tried to take him down, commissioner Rob Manfred.

As for thawing in the MLB-Rodriguez relationship, Manfred says, "Once he serves his time, he deserves an opportunity to try to restart his career. We didn't negotiate for [162] games and then penalize you forever thereafter."

Back home in South Florida, undergoing his own image makeover, Bosch can only laugh recalling the nasty disdain Manfred often voiced toward A-Rod amid the Biogenesis saga. "I'll never forget what Manfred said behind closed doors," Bosch recently told ESPN. "I want to bring this motherf---er [down]. And next thing I know, fast-forward a year later, and they're f---ing hugging. ... It was personal."

For Bosch, the memories of being pressured as the scandal broke by both sides remain fresh, all these years later. Speaking of A-Rod, Bosch recalled: "He had people drive by, 'Hey, do you need anything?' Hey, when I want something, I'll let you know. What I want to do is be left alone.'"

Bosch ultimately cut a deal with baseball, a 10-page cooperation agreement containing a nondisclosure clause. No money was paid directly to him, although in excess of $5 million was spent on his legal fees and personal security.

Baseball dropped its lawsuit against him, as well as younger brother Ashley. Documents also reveal former Sen. George Mitchell --who only a few years prior had been paid $40 million by MLB for his report that detailed widespread doping in the league -- put in a word with the U.S. Attorney for South Florida, noting Bosch served as the "principal fact witness" on baseball's behalf at A-Rod's arbitration hearing. In his ruling, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz described Bosch's testimony as "direct, credible."

Horowitz concluded of A-Rod, "While this length of suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed."

In hindsight, Bosch acknowledges the Biogenesis scandal might have ended differently if A-Rod had dug deeper into his checkbook.

"I had a price," Bosch told ESPN. "Don't mistake that I did not have a price. I never asked for anything, but I did have a price."

Which was?

"Five melons [$5 million] and I am out of here. That was my price."

And then?

"Dude, I disappear."

Mike Fish is a senior writer at ESPN. Reach him at michaeljfish19@gmail.com. On X, formerly known as Twitter, his handle is @MikeFishESPN.