Key figure in doping scandal surrenders, faces charges

AFP
The seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration is seen on a lectern before the start of a press conference at DEA Headquarters on June 26, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia
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The seal of the Drug Enforcement Administration is seen on a lectern before the start of a press conference at DEA Headquarters on June 26, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Miami (AFP) - Tony Bosch, one of the central figures in American baseball's largest performance-enhancing drugs scandal, has surrendered to federal agents and been charged with distributing steroids.

Bosch's arrest Tuesday by the Drug Enforcement Administration comes a year after Major League Baseball handed down a number of suspensions related to the Biogenesis steroid scandal, which rocked the sport.

Bosch and six others were arrested early Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to distribute steroids, federal prosecutor Wilfredo Ferrer told a news conference in Miami.

"These defendants were motivated by one thing, money," Ferrer told reporters.

"Neither Bosch, nor any of his co-defendants, were licensed or had authority to sell (controlled substances)."

Bosch, 50, is the former director of Biogenesis, the south Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed testosterone and human growth hormone.

He supplied performance-enhancing drugs to New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and at least 12 other MLB players, and later co-operated with an MLB probe.

A total of 13 players, including Rodriguez, were suspended a year ago. Rodriguez received an unprecedented 211-game suspension, while the other 12 were banned for 50 games. Rodriguez's ban was eventually cut to 162 games.

- 'They are cheaters' -

"Pro athletes who use drugs to improve their performance are not heroes -- they are cheaters," the US attorney said.

Rodriguez's cousin, Yuri Sucart, was also arrested Tuesday as part the investigation the DEA called "Operation Strikeout." Sucart worked as a professional athlete recruiter for Bosch, Ferrer said.

Ferrer said Bosch would plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute testosterone. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

The court documents did not specify whether the charges are directly related to the MLB drug scandal. Officials also did not name on Tuesday any athletes who received performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis.

Ferrer said that Bosch distributed testosterone to professional athletes starting in 2008.

He alleges Bosch forged prescriptions of testosterone for both pro athletes and high school students.

The probe extended to the Dominican Republic, where they said Bosch helped set up a company, Scores Sports Management, that distributed performance-enhancing drugs to youth baseball players, some as young as 12.

"Mr. Bosch is not a licensed medical professional -- he is a drug dealer," DEA agent Mark Trouville said.

At the peak of his operation, Bosch was paid up to $12,000 a month by his clients.

Other players suspended last year in connection with the MLB's Biogenesis probe were Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Fautino De Los Santos, Francisco Cervelli, Fernando Martinez, Antonio Bastardo, Jesus Montero, Sergio Escalona, Jordany Valdespin, Cesar Puello and Jordan Norberto.

Three other players involved in the Biogenesis case -- Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal -- were also slapped with 50-game bans for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs prior to the August suspensions.

Former National League MVP Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension last July for his involvement with Biogenesis.

MLB's investigation began following a January 2013 report in the Miami New Times, detailing Rodriguez's links to Bosch.

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