By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
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By Jon Campbell
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The first thing Porter Fischer spotted was the trunk of his silver Corolla. It was wide open. Then he noted a bashed-in passenger window and the shattered glass littering the parking lot outside the Boca Tanning Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Patrons in a nearby Starbucks peered out curiously as he sprinted to the car.
"No!" he screamed. The boxes were gone.
Fischer dashed back into the salon and yelled to the receptionist: "Call the police! Now!" Then he ran to the back, where the salon's manager was tanning in a booth. It was the same place Fischer had spent the last 10 minutes getting a sprayed-on sheen. He banged on the door. "They broke in!" he yelled. "They got everything!"
In the weeks that followed, Fischer would torture himself about leaving priceless cargo unattended. But he didn't think anyone would have followed him 300 miles from Miami to a storage unit in Ocala and then to Boca Raton. He certainly never imagined a thief would be bold enough to snatch the boxes from his car in such a busy lot.
He was wrong.
The March 24 daylight burglary was just one of many gut punches Fischer has taken since removing boxes of documents from Biogenesis, the Coral Gables, Florida, anti-aging clinic where he'd worked. He later shared the medical records, patient spreadsheets, and handwritten composition books with Miami New Times for an explosive story that sparked the biggest drug-related scandal in professional sports since Lance Armstrong lost his seven Tour de France medals in 2012. Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Major League Baseball is considering suspending as many as 20 players for up to 100 games.
Fischer's motives were simple. He believed he'd been cheated by the clinic's owner, Tony Bosch, who the records indicated had sold performance-enhancing drugs to players including New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and the Toronto Blue Jays' All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera.
Fischer could never have predicted the chaos that followed the story's publication: a high-speed car chase, midnight knocks on his door, death threats, and unmarked envelopes stuffed full of cash—not to mention the Boca Raton smash-and-grab.
Even worse, Fischer says, has been the jaw-dropping incompetence of the authorities he trusted. Major League Baseball spent months alternately trying to cajole and offer money to Fischer before losing interest just after the break-in. And the Florida Department of Health, despite his full cooperation and reams of evidence, abruptly closed the case by giving Bosch just a citation and fine.
"Mr. Fischer approached us, and it was clear from the beginning he was seeking compensation for documents or verification," says Pat Courtney, a spokesman for MLB. "We had discussion with him on a number of occasions, but never reached any agreement." Attorneys for Tony Bosch and Alex Rodriguez did not respond to a phone message as well as an e-mail from New Times seeking comment.
The goateed, muscular 48-year-old provided the records to New Times on the basis of anonymity this past January, but decided to reveal his identity now in the hope that the real miscreants will be punished. He is the most important whistleblower in baseball history, a man who helped show that the steroid era is far from over and may well have ended A-Rod's career before a $275 million contract is even finished. Now he has no job and plenty of reasons to fear for his life.
"The people running Major League Baseball are the biggest scumbags on Earth as far as I'm concerned," Fischer says. "At this point, every bad guy out there knows exactly who I am. Why shouldn't everyone else know the story, too?"
One of the most significant scandals in modern baseball history began with an argument over $4,000. That unpaid debt, combined with Porter Fischer's short fuse, ignited a firestorm that likely won't be finished for years.
It began one day in 2010, when he stopped by a Boca Tanning Club location in South Miami. Fischer had made friends with the staff.
"I wanted to be the manager there," he recalls.
That's when a new section opened in the salon: Boca Body. "He told me they were doing HCG," Fischer says. "I asked, 'What's that?' and he said, 'Oh, it helps you lose weight.'" (HCG, in fact, is a hormone that the FDA has banned from over-the-counter sales.)
An employee took Fischer's body fat measurements and told him to come back in a few days. When he returned, the staff ushered him in to see a man they called "the doctor." "That's when I first met Tony Bosch," Fischer says.
Fischer didn't know it, but Bosch wasn't a licensed doctor. He had earned a degree at the Belize-based Central America Health Sciences University, which isn't recognized in the United States. And he had led a troubled business career marred by a bitter dispute with his former partner in a medical supply business.
Along with his father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, Tony Bosch had reportedly been investigated in 2009 during a probe of then Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez, who was eventually suspended for failing a drug test. Neither father nor son was ever charged, and both proclaimed their innocence.