It began with an e-mail from a disgruntled employee at Miami-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis.
The e-mail, sent to a reporter at a weekly Miami newspaper, hinted at new information about baseball players using drugs.
In late January, after almost four months of investigation by staffer Tim Elfrink, the Miami New Times reported that about 20 players, including star slugger Alex Rodriguez, had purchased from the clinic substances that are banned by baseball, including human growth hormone (HGH).
Rodriguez, who grew up in Miami, was suspended by Major League Baseball (MLB) on Monday for 211 games, but has appealed the decision.
Elfrink, managing editor of the Miami New Times, worked closely with the Biogenesis whistleblower, Porter Fischer. A former patient at the clinic, Fischer had a marketing job there for barely a month and said he was upset with the owner, Anthony Bosch, over a US$4,000 loan.
Fischer had read an article by Elfrink in the Miami New Times about a previous scandal involving Bosch and baseball star Manny Ramirez.
Elfrink and Fischer reviewed hundreds of pages of documents from the clinic. According to Elfrink’s reporting, the newspaper needed to decipher the records because many of the players’ treatments were entered using code names.
“Porter [Fischer] is not really much of a sports fan. He knew who A-Rod was and a couple of the others,” Elfrink said.
“New Times did a great job and they contributed a lot because they recognized some of the player names and they figured some of it out themselves,” said Fischer’s former lawyer, Raymond Rafool.
Elfrink knew that Bosch and his father, a doctor, had come under scrutiny from MLB in 2009 for their links to Ramirez, who was suspended for 50 games for using a banned substance. Bosch and his father were never charged in that case.