Earlier this week, the 'New York Times' published the regime of performance-enhancing drugs (PED) and workout schedule Alex Rodriguez is accused of following under the guidance of steroid peddler Anthony Bosch. A medical professional in the loosest sense of the word, Bosch has been implicated in doping scandals surrounding 14 Major League Baseball players while publicly describing himself as a "biochemist" and touting his several years of study at a Belizean medical school. As he told Scott Pelley in an interview with '60 Minutes': "I was very good at what I did. I had a track record. I have been doing this for years."
Coming from a man with little to no credibility, it is an interesting claim. If Bosch was, as he says, an effective trainer, then A-Rod was cheating. If he wasn't, A-Rod was being cheated (while trying to cheat). We decided to find out which it was.
We showed the regimen, which includes references to injections, creams, and testosterone-laced "gummies," to Dr. Mark Gordon, Medical Director of Millennium Health Centers and clinical professor at the University of California's Keck School of Medicine. Gordon, an expert on hormone therapy, pointed out that it's impossible to know the appropriateness of the drug dosages Bosch assigned to A-Rod without knowing the results of any blood work done on him beforehand. But he also had some harsh words for "damage dispensers" like Bosch, who improperly handle drugs that have legitimate therapeutic value. Still, Gordon admits that A-Rod's reputed regimen appears to be well constructed.
"This is a very well thought out protocol in terms of balancing potential risks with the benefits," says Gordon. "I've not seen really an abusive level of hormones. It's a really moderate to low-dose regimen. It's not one of these regimens that will make you a meathead, going into the gym doing Mr. Universe, Mr. Atlas [type bodybuilding]."
Here is the doctor's take on every element of Bosch's elaborate prescription.
- Morning: Human Growth Hormone (HGH), 1.5 units: 6 days on, 1 day off.
- Evening: Growth hormone-releasing hexapeptide 2/6, 1.5 units: 6 days on, 1 day off.
- Monday (noon): CJC 1295, 1.3 units.
- Friday (noon): CJC, 1.3 units.
"That's old-school stuff," Gordon says of HGH. "You just take it consistently. Morning is always better than nighttime, so you don't really suppress the brain. What happens after 48 hours [of usage]: You lose 40 percent of your natural production of growth hormone, and after 30 days, you lose 100 percent of your natural production.
GHRP, a growth hormone receptor protein, is there to help mitigate that problem. The technical term is a secretagogue, "a product that simulates another product," Gordon adds. For GHRP, evening is better than morning. "By giving it at night, what you're doing is keeping the natural tone of the pituitary up, to avoid shutting his own natural production off. So the likelihood he'll lose anything is very little."
- Monday: Fat Burning/Energy Cocktail, 1.5 milliliters.
- Friday: Amino Acid Therapy Cocktail, 1.5 milliliters.
The Fat Burning/Energy Cocktail "could be anything," Gordon says. "It could be epenepherin, adrenaline; it could be phosphatidylcholine, ribose. There is a whole bunch of stuff that can be fat burners." Whatever the specifics, it was designed to increase metabolism and burn fat. The Amino Acid Therapy Cocktail, he says, is probably a branched-chain amino acids drink like Glutamine, "which helps to preserve the muscle."
- Daily (evening): Testosterone Cream, as directed.
- Daily (morning): L-Glutathione Cream, as directed.
Testosterone, most people get. The interesting part is Glutathione Cream. "It's a phenomenal protectant of the liver for things that he is taking. It allows the liver to metabolize things better. So testosterone metabolism would be better, for clearing and protecting the body," Gordon says.
- Evenings: Melatonin, 3 milligrams.
- Prior to game (as needed): Testosterone Troche, 1–3 milligrams.
Melatonin is another evening supplement that Gordon would recommend. "In the evening, it's great. It's an incredible antioxidant for the brain," he says. "It helps with sleep, and also stimulates growth hormone production." Of the testosterone troche, basically a lozenge containing testosterone, he's more skeptical.
"It's just another form of testosterone," Gordon says. "I don't think 1–3 milligrams [would be effective]."
- Vitamin C: Daily/Orthomolecular dosages.
- Omega 3,6,9: Daily/Orthomolecular dosages.
- DHEA [dehydroepiandrosterone]: Daily/Orthomolecular dosages.
- Pregnenolone: Daily/Take as directed.
- Multi-Vitamin/Zinc: Daily/Take as directed.
- Clomiphene (10-day therapy): Daily/Take as directed.
Vitamin C is used as an antioxidant, while the omegas provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The multivitamin with zinc sounds harmless enough, but it serves a key purpose for male athletes. "It is a natural estradiol inhibitor," explains Gordon. "It blocks the conversion of testosterone into estradiol" – that would be the female hormone that causes man boobs, mood swings, and sensitivity.
Clomiphine, like zinc, is there to counteract potential side effects of the PED use. "It's an interesting product," Gordon says. "Clomiphine is a synthetic luteinizing hormone that goes to the testicles and tells them to make testosterone. The benefit of using clomephine when you're on a testosterone protocol is that it maintains testicular size, so you don't get almond balls or testicular atrophy. So it keeps the testicles going."
- Amino Acid
- Free Radical
- Mitochondrial Repair
- Testosterone/Estrogen Balance
"These are probably all natural products, and by keeping mitochondrials working, [they] keep your energy level up," Gordon says of the chemicals A-Rod allegedly imbibed to keep from becoming toxic. It's reasonable, he believes, to think these are supplements, since none are specified as drugs.
Conclusions: In the end, Gordon looks at the regimen in full and sees something "well thought out and very well balanced." Bosch is shady, but he appears to have been acting in his client's best interests – in the short term anyway. Since A-Rod never failed any tests, it's clear that Bosch's tactics on that front worked as well.
Despite all that, A-Rod and Bosch aren't likely to exchange Christmas cards. It was Bosch's testimony that led to the unprecedented 162-game ban that has preemptively put an end to Rodriguez's 2014 season. Still, at least the Yankees' newest benchwarmer can sleep easy knowing the $12,000 checks he gave Bosch each month weren't spent in vain. He succeeded at doping. He just didn't succeed at getting away with it.