"I am the best fake doctor ever."
So told Tony Bosch to federal authorities investigating his Biogenesis of America performance-enhancing drugs clinic in 2014.
The truth-telling session occurred in a crowded conference room at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's regional headquarters in Weston, Florida. Bosch, the central target of the investigation, sat that late May day as a slightly paunchy middle-aged man with a gravelly voice and easy smile. It was the seventh of nine interviews he would give to federal authorities. He had spoken rather matter-of-factly in prior interviews, but when the questions started coming about his credentials and those in the medical field he relied upon, he could barely contain himself.
Asked how his father, an actual licensed physician, reconciled working with Bosch as he falsely presented himself as a doctor while operating an anti-aging clinic, Bosch told federal agents: "I was the best at what I did in the United States and probably the world."
Bosch portrayed his father, who passed away this past March at 85, and a cadre of nine additional Miami doctors who posed as medical directors at other clinics he ran and served as a gateway to growth hormone, testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs, as knowing exactly what he was doing. "I sold myself to the doctors," Bosch told the agents.
He referred to the doctors as "C students" and "not that bright." He called his enablers "dumbasses." When asked by federal agents if this included his Cuban-born father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, the son said, "Yes." As for his father's motivation in serving as Biogenesis' last medical director before the scandal erupted near the dawn of 2013, Bosch told agents he did so "to cover my ass because I was his son."
In recent months, Bosch, the hormone specialist, has been back in the feel-good business by marketing subscription-based, how-to software to potential wellness clinic operators and with ventures such as the short-lived Body by Bosch, a Miami-based "functional med-spa." According to the company's now-shuttered website, Bosch's dad, Pedro, was near his side until his recent death, listed as one of two physicians on the facility's medical board and bearing the title of medical affairs liaison. An investor filed a lawsuit in February against Body by Bosch as well as Tony Bosch personally, claiming breach of contract and fraud tied to a $250,000 investment.
A decade ago, the Biogenesis scandal was widely known for having led to the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun -- among 21 professional baseball players with ties to the clinic ultimately suspended. But roughly 1,400 pages of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration documents obtained by ESPN provide a rare glimpse into the lengths to which the government went in building its case, the costly, no-holds-barred fight between A-Rod and Major League Baseball, as well as surfacing previously unreported athletes names in the investigation, from world-champion boxers and wrestlers to NBA stars and fitness gurus. 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 -- including use of a DEA helicopter -- undercover buys and executed search warrants.
Ultimately, the investigation would taint almost everyone it touched. Not only the professional athletes and steroid dealers, but respected professionals who would call upon unsavory tactics -- from doctors to lawyers, personal trainers to talent agents, the players' union right up to the commissioner's office. Everyone seemingly consumed by a hell-bent, win-at-all-costs mentality.
Bosch's nine interviews are part of the cadre of unredacted documents, as agents spent hours trying to learn about his business operation and associates.
What's clear is that from the day he first set up shop in his father's Coral Gables office in 2007 as a fledgling hormone specialist until the Biogenesis scandal sent him to prison years later, Tony Bosch operated outside the law with an anything-goes mindset. He was a risk-taker who surrounded himself with other risk-takers. He told federal agents of having connected with dirty doctors and black-market characters to procure drugs for his clinics. His mentor and first partner was an ex-con stripped of his medical license, stooping so low as to water down cancer drugs; later, his PED-dealing protégé was an ex-con with a high school education; a drug trafficker was an early investor in Biokem, a clinic co-owned by Bosch that pre-dated Biogenesis and operated at the same location; another investor would be imprisoned in a federal stock manipulation scam. Bosch operated an early clinic in the back of a tanning salon.
PEDs for athletes were at times written on bogus prescription forms, either by a physician who never saw players or written as if they were for a third party or a fictitious name. The drugs were later rounded up and supplied to the athletes. Other substances, like testosterone and growth hormone peptides, were often purchased on the black market, concocted without benefit of quality control oversight in a steamy South Miami garage from raw materials imported from China and India.
Bosch, who pleaded guilty in October 2014 to conspiracy to distribute testosterone and was one of eight people convicted in the federal investigation, told federal agents the Russian mafia controlled his black-market supplier. In another interview, Bosch told of a female phlebotomist at an early clinic -- remembered as being from Prague, "blonde and blue eyes, very thin, bad teeth and a thick accent" -- setting up a meeting at a Miami Lakes hotel with an "Italian male" who unsuccessfully pitched the idea of extorting money from his baseball-playing clients.
Perhaps no doctor was more center stage than Dr. Rafael "Rafa" Prats, a gynecologist and go-to source for Bosch and his circle. Behind the scenes, Prats, who passed away in 2021, was known to sell his license to South Florida anti-aging clinics so they could prop him up as their medical director and thus cover minimum state requirements, even though he rarely, if ever, showed his face. According to federal documents, Prats' going rate for writing a bogus prescription was $200.
Prats, like several doctors in Bosch's network, battled addiction while also often finding himself on the wrong side of the law. In the late 1980s, Prats was placed on five years of probation after his alcohol and drug addiction led to a string of arrests. More recently, Prats pleaded guilty to a 12-count federal indictment for his role in creating a wholesale distribution company that fraudulently resold expired pharmaceuticals.
Prats, before his death, declined comment on the Biogenesis scandal.
Long before Bosch aligned with Prats and started to provide performance-enhancing substances to famous athletes, Bosch dabbled on the periphery of medicine. He first surfaced on the Miami anti-aging scene in 2007, at age 44 and with a degree from the Central America Health Sciences University in Belize. The lucrative wellness business was flourishing in South Florida, driven by the promise of human growth hormone and testosterone to reverse the aging process, along with enhancing appearance and quality of life.
Bosch first became a respiratory therapist in Miami, specializing in ventilator care and hyperbaric medicine. He branched into the respiratory home-care business, where he was introduced to IV infusions that he would later incorporate with athletes. He studied up on hormones and anti-aging in the Belize medical school, and later affiliated with an El Paso endocrinology clinic researching the impact of human growth hormone on obesity and diabetes.
When he opened his first clinic, he did so alongside Dr. Carlos Diuana Nazir, a urologist.
"The guy is brilliant," Bosch told ESPN. "So everything I learned, everything I read, everything I saw -- he was able to put everything together for me. And we spent hours talking and creating protocols." He further described Nazir as an expert in compounding drugs and "masking things," which proved extremely important in protecting athletes subject to drug tests.
As much as he impressed Bosch, Nazir, 68, proved an equally infamous character who, according to court filings, lost his medical license in 2005 after serving time on federal charges that included conspiracy to commit money laundering and health care fraud tied to an impotency drug scam. At one point, Nazir, who earned his medical degree in Mexico, violated terms of his probation because of his own personal drug use and ended up back behind bars.
With Nazir in the shadows, Bosch, along with Dr. Jose Luis Rodriguez, set up their first clinic late in 2007 -- VIP Medical. Bosch arranged to use his father's office in the morning while Dr. Pedro Bosch made hospital rounds. Rodriguez, whose medical license had expired, had his own office nearby. Nazir worked out of Sabor Havana, a cigar shop located in Coral Gables, according to documents.
Nazir functioned as the medical director and wrote prescriptions for Bosch's clients, but he did so by assuming the identity of elderly, retired Miami physician Dr. Arturo Perez -- whose license remained active until he died in 2011. Bosch told federal agents Perez was paid approximately $3,000 a month by Nazir for use of his DEA number and prescription pad. Thus, Perez -- not the unlicensed Nazir -- had his name on prescriptions and was listed as the medical director at several of his early clinics, Bosch said. The DEA found "thousands" of Dr. Perez's prescriptions were forged.
"So Nazir had all these prescriptions and Nazir would call in the pharmacy like he was that doctor," Bosch told ESPN of Nazir, who moved to Madrid and resurrected his medical career. "He basically took over [Perez's] identity."
Bosch told the feds he never informed his father of the fraudulent scheme, but after the attention brought by baseball star Manny Ramirez testing positive in 2009 while a VIP Medical client, Dr. Pedro Bosch asked him to leave the office.
Shortly after the Biogenesis scandal broke, Nazir confirmed to ESPN that he had consulted with Bosch on hormone treatments. "He was training to learn how you dosify," Nazir said. "How do you calculate doses in patients? How do you not overdose somebody? What do you do when complications come in? How do you counteract? There are hormones for everything. The ones that counteract something that you don't want. Then he went over on his own [practice]."
It wasn't long into the teaching, Nazir said, before Bosch acted like he knew more than the medical doctor.
Bosch, operating without a medical license, associated with more than a dozen facilities and spawned other anti-aging specialists and South Florida clinics. One person started out as a client before working for Bosch as a delivery person and referring police officers and boxers to Bosch. That person now owns his own clinic.
Bosch told agents that in 2009 he was approached by a physician about cashing in on the anti-aging phenomenon, and the two later partnered in Body by Chemistry, where, according to federal documents, Bosch told authorities he treated former pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik. Odesnik has repeatedly declined comment to ESPN.
Another protégé was an unemployed construction worker named Carlos Acevedo, who also started out as a client. Acevedo showed up at Bosch's door looking to recraft his physique. He was a felon who had previously been convicted of marijuana trafficking. Six months later and 20 pounds lighter, Acevedo was hired by Bosch to deliver PES to clients, then elevated to prepping substances for clients -- among them Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun -- before he was eventually deemed qualified to inject clients with testosterone.
Bosch and Acevedo would partner in a wellness clinic known as Biokem, which operated from late 2010 until November 2011. Acevedo left to start his own clinic while Bosch stayed at the location to open what would be known as Biogenesis of America. Biokem is where many of the ballplayers started as clients.
Acevedo would surface as a key defendant in the Biogenesis case and serve 21 months in prison -- a sentence likely shortened by acting as a confidential source for the government, wearing a wire for a meeting with a key target in at least one instance.
Acevedo told federal authorities during an interview that when the duo opened Biokem in 2010, Bosch initially was listed as the medical director, though he has never been licensed to practice medicine in Florida. Bosch's name does not appear in corporate filings for either Biokem or Biogenesis.
Acevedo, who declined repeated requests for comment by ESPN, also told authorities that the majority of their clinic medications came through the black market: "One bottle of medicine would be legitimate or authentic, and the rest would come from the black-market chemist." He identified, to authorities, that chemist as Paulo Berejuk. Berejuk ended up as a defendant in the Biogenesis case and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Acevedo told authorities he had heard that Berejuk at one point claimed to have sold his black-market business to "New York mob."
Bosch told federal agents that Berejuk had approached him in late 2010 or early 2011 about buying his black-market steroid business, but he declined. Bosch told authorities he suggested Jorge "Ugi" Velazquez, an associate and player in the Miami anti-aging scene, as a potential buyer. Later, when Velazquez couldn't come up with the money to close the deal, he said Berejuk sold the business to members of the Russian mafia, who have a stronghold in the South Florida community of Sunny Isles Beach. Bosch told authorities they ultimately retained Velazquez, a 52-year-old former amateur boxer, to run the business.
Berejuk declined to comment. Velazquez, when reached by ESPN, called Bosch a "snitch." Velazquez declined to comment about whether he had been Bosch's drug supplier. He also rejected interview requests from federal authorities during their investigation, telling ESPN: "I refused to cooperate with the government, 100 percent. It is not my way, man. I wasn't raised that way." Velazquez was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Bosch told authorities he used Velazquez as his primary black-market source for testosterone, growth hormone and various peptides. Bosch and Velazquez had run in the same Miami circles for a couple of decades. They partnered in a clinic at one point, and Velazquez helped introduce Alex Rodriguez as a client and kept the communication lines open between them after Biogenesis blew up publicly.
Even before the feds came calling, Bosch's personal demons had begun to affect his anti-aging practice. Acevedo, who left in November 2011 to open a separate clinic, described Bosch as an uncontrollable party animal, a regular on the club scene along the trendy Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. Acevedo said Bosch began to party on a "daily basis" and used cocaine in the clinic. He told authorities he saw Bosch on a Friday with at least an "8 ball," about 3.5 grams of cocaine.
A clinic staffer, Kristina Huwer-Hernandez, vouched for his story, telling federal authorities she "regularly observed Anthony Bosch snort cocaine at work." She claimed that Bosch was "often high while at work."
Other employees told similar stories. Bosch himself confirmed his addiction to DEA agents.
The blatant recklessness appeared in step with the daily culture of the wellness clinic. Huwer-Hernandez, who previously owned a sandwich shop, told the feds she injected minors with testosterone. She also revealed that at times clinic staff diluted testosterone with water in a 50-50 mix so there would be enough to treat clients.
Federal authorities were told by multiple staffers that the clinic phlebotomist pocketed $5 kickbacks on blood samples sent to a specific local lab.
Claudia Cosculluela, Bosch's former longtime girlfriend, told federal authorities that medications were delivered under fictitious names to her apartment and then turned over to Bosch. At least five other clinic staffers separately told of having drugs delivered to their home, with each returning them to Bosch or the clinic.
A clinic nurse, who hadn't yet finished her degree and wasn't registered with the state, once wrote a prescription for Acevedo, the clinic co-owner. Acevedo told authorities the drugs were used to supply one of Bosch's ballplayers. The feds also found at least two other staffers wrote prescriptions.
On a recorded conversation with a DEA confidential source, Velazquez claimed that Bosch had been in possession of a prescription pad belonging to another of his clinic doctors. He said Bosch used the pad to procure drugs from a local compounding pharmacy.
Bosch told ESPN he had "straw patients," who as a means of saving on their monthly bill, would kick back a portion of their medications, which would be pooled and used to supply his athlete clients.
The risk athletes assumed -- whether they knew the backstory or not -- was far more than simply the chance of testing positive, followed by losing money and dealing with public embarrassment. In the words of a lead investigator on the case, the players' blind trust in "Dr. T" revealed them to be a "confederacy of dunces."
In the end, eight people were convicted as a result of the federal drug distribution investigation. Bosch pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute testosterone and was sentenced to four years in federal prison, but he was released in late 2016, followed by three years of supervised probation.
Federal authorities declined to characterize Bosch's statements on an individual basis but did say, overall, they found him to be truthful in his interviews. Bosch risked not only additional charges if he lied to federal agents, but prosecutors also would have declined to go before the judge in the case and seek a sentence reduction for him as the cooperation deal specified. Like the other witnesses who gave interviews to federal DEA authorities, Bosch was not under oath, keeping with standard practice in such investigations.
Federal authorities did not target athletes or hangers-on in their investigation.
"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."