By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The steroid era is generally considered to be over in Major League Baseball, an era believed to have reached its peak in the late ’90s and early 2000s before MLB “cracked down” on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But according to a new book written by a former MLB investigator and Red Sox security agent, PEDs are alive and well in Major League Baseball.
The book — written by Eddie Dominguez and titled “Baseball Cop: The Dark Side Of America’s National Pastime” — lobs some weighty accusations against the league, several teams, and certain players. Based on write-ups and excerpts in the Boston Herald, the New York Post, and Sports Illustrated, we’re getting an idea of some of the most noteworthy items covered in the book.
The book was officially released on Tuesday. Some of the more significant allegations include the following:
A Large Percentage Of MLB Players Are Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Despite the testing procedures and protocols, Dominguez believes PED use remains rampant in the league. Per the New York Post story, Dominguez spoke to three different sources to arrive at this conclusion: A doctor who served prison time for PED distribution, a coach who was “part of the Biogenesis investigation,” and an informant “close to the game.” The informant suggested that 90 percent of players “use something,” the doctor believed 70 percent of veteran players use PEDs, and the coach guessed that number to be between 30 and 35 percent.
“I would say 70 percent of players who have been in the league a year are using upper-echelon PEDs that can’t be detected,” the doctor told Dominguez.
Anthony Bosch — the founder of Biogenesis — explained that despite a number of players testing positive, the drug tests were easy to beat if players were dedicated to doing so. Bosch said he’d “treat” his clients between midnight and 5 a.m., which kept them safe from most tests.
“Another example — off-season. Like, really? My guys, they were in the middle of the ocean on a boat. What are you going to do? Send a helicopter? Because they’re on vacation,” Bosch told Dominguez, per Sports Illustrated. “Let’s say the urine guys, the testing guys, say, ‘I’m coming over.’ I’m fishing in Bimini. They gave me three days, that was the policy. It’s like forty-eight hours. In forty-eight hours we could have changed the world over and over again as far as this is concerned. I mean, we had this s— down pat. Listen to me, this doesn’t take brilliance. It just takes, it takes desire, motivation, commitment, and a little bit of, you know, bulls—, a little bit of money.”
MLB — And Rob Manfred, In Particular — Desperately Wanted To Take Down Alex Rodriguez
In terms of busting a player for PED use, Alex Rodriguez was baseball’s white whale. Rob Manfred, who’s now the league’s commissioner, headed the league’s investigation into Biogenesis in 2013, and taking down A-Rod was a chief priority. That’s because, according to the New York Post excerpt, A-Rod was “very similar to Pete Rose” and catching him “would get the most publicity.”
Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this crusade involved MLB’s treatment of Lazer Collazo, the former coach at the University of Miami. Dominguez alleges that Manfred’s “right-hand man” as well as an attorney visited the home of Collazo, who is Cuban-American, at 10 p.m. to interrogate him on what he knew about Rodriguez.
“They asked me about Alex, about Tony Bosch. They wanted more, and what I mean by wanting more, they kept saying, We feel you know a lot more than what you’re saying. You know more. We’re going to take this to the newspaper,” Collazo said in the New York Post excerpt. “They said if you don’t give us more, we’re going to embarrass your family on their visas. Not only was my wife there, but Daniella, my youngest child, was about 9 or 10 and she heard all this. She got pretty emotional. She heard about jail, because they mentioned to jail. You know, they were trying to scare me. … Threats, that’s the right word to use.”
Collazo eventually faced felony charges for distribution, which were reduced to misdemeanor charges for purchasing steroids, to which he pleaded guilty.
According to Dominguez, Rodriguez ended up hiring people to follow certain MLB officials. Yet despite A-Rod’s massive suspension in 2014, he’s made nice with Manfred in the years that have followed.
“I don’t believe for one second it was about the PEDs,” Dominguez told the Post. “It was about public image.”
A Close Friend Of David Ortiz Was Allegedly Gambling On Baseball
Dominguez did not levy any Pete Rose-esque accusations of players or managers gambling on baseball, but he did state that a member of David Ortiz’s entourage was entangled in such activity. Dominugez alleged that this person was “betting thousands of dollars against the Red Sox” over a period of time.
Dominguez said an Ortiz friend known as “Monga” placed a bet for the White Sox to beat the Red Sox — as well as betting on the over — in July of 2005, according to the story in the Herald. Monga ended up getting banned from the Red Sox clubhouse, but he was on the field with Ortiz before the 2006 Home Run Derby.
“Dominguez said he called his superiors and was told they tried to keep Ortiz’ friends away but Ortiz had said, ‘If they don’t come with me on the field, I don’t participate.’ [Then-commissioner Bud] Selig and his No. 2 Rob Manfred allegedly had given in and said, ‘Let them on.’)”
Ortiz sat down for a meeting with then-Red Sox manager Terry Francona, as well as Dominguez and MLB’s head of security. When told of the accusations, Ortiz said they were false, and said that he would talk to his friend.
“When Dominguez returned to his car [after the meeting], he wrote that his informant called to tell him the alleged gambling activities had shut down immediately,” the Herald story said.
Dominguez said that, after passing information on to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Monga was arrested for making false claims of U.S. citizenship. Dominguez said the arrest took place at Ortiz’s house, but a February 2009 Boston Globe story said the arrest took place at Fenway Park. An August 2009 Globe Spotlight story added many details to the story of Monga, and also included mention of Dominguez’s investigation of Red Sox security staffers — including Jared Remy — concerning steroids. That Spotlight story said that “it was Major League Baseball that tipped off federal authorities to Marquez’s identity theft,” which led to his arrest. The arrest was also covered in a July 2007 Globe story by Bob Hohler and Shelley Murphy. Monga’s case was covered by the Lowell Sun in 2009, as well.
Per the Herald, Dominguez shared in the book that then-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was not at all pleased with the arrest, telling Dominguez, “Eddie, I thought you were with us. What the [expletive] are you doing? Ortiz is upset the police went to his home and arrested his guy. What are you doing?”
Larry Lucchino Suspected That Manny Ramirez Orchestrated His Red Sox Exit — On Scott Boras’ Suggestion
Everybody remembers that the end of the Manny Ramirez era in Boston was not pretty. There was the incident of Ramirez claiming to have a knee injury that kept him out of games, and of course there was the incident of Ramirez shoving Red Sox clubhouse attendant Jack McCormick to the ground in a dispute over tickets. According to Dominguez, Larry Lucchino believed Ramirez was following the direction of his agent, Scott Boras, in order to force the Red Sox to trade him.
Lucchino, who was the team’s president and CEO at the time, believed that Boras “had orchestrated the trade by having Ramirez concoct injuries and push down traveling secretary Jack McCormick,” according to the Herald article. This suspicion, according to Dominguez, was met with doubt by Francona, Epstein, and principal owner John Henry, so the league didn’t end up following through with any investigation.
Ryan Braun Went Overboard
Among the biggest names to get busted for PED use was Brewers star Ryan Braun. Dominguez helped explain why Braun got caught.
According to the SI excerpt, Bosch told Dominguez that there was a lozenge that provided players with testosterone. The lozenges were called gummy bears, and players could take them at the start of games to activate whatever was already in their system, and it all would be flushed out of their system long before the game ended, so they could pass tests. As long as they only took one. But Braun, according to Bosch, took far too many.
From the SI excerpt:
“And so what happened with Braun was real simple,” [Bosch] said. “The guy took, like, thirty gummy bears. He took one in the third inning, then he took one in the fifth inning, then he took one in the seventh inning, then he took one … he was just popping it like it was — candy.”
Bosch re-created a conversation with Braun, and I had to smile after hearing the anecdote retold.
“How many did you take?”
“I took five, I took six.”
“How much did you take?”
“Okay. I took the whole thing.”
Dominguez said he “targeted antiaging clinics as the most likely places for athletes to get their PEDs,” according to the SI excerpt, and that customized PED plans were somewhat easy for players to get: “It all starts with a blood test; then they find the products that best suit what you’re looking to accomplish, followed by a protocol that keeps you one step ahead of the testing. It ends with a large invoice that is paid in cash.”
Bosch told Dominguez that the players take the risk of using PEDs because of “simple math.”
“It’s simple math. Look at the history,” Bosch told Dominguez. “Let’s see, I’m a number four outfielder earning $1.1 million. I get on the juice, and in my free-agent year, if I make it as a starting outfielder, let me see, that’s $4.3 million. I get caught, I lose $500,000. But I made $4 million. Simple math. Look at all the guys that got caught — they got better contracts after, Melky [Cabrera] included. How are you going to beat the system if you’re rewarding these guys? Now the Hall of Fame? F— the Hall of Fame. [Players] don’t care about the Hall. [Players] care about the dollar, brother. This is a business. There’s no, you know, slapping on the ass. Good game. That’s on TV.”