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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Alumnus Tim Elfrink publishes book on MLB Biogenesis scandal

“Blood Sport” was released in July and has received positive reviews from media outlets like The Washington Post.

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Alumnus Tim Elfrink published his first book, "Blood Sport," in July. The book covers the Biogenesis drug scandal involving MLB star Alex Rodriguez, which Elfrink helped uncover while reporting for the Miami New Times.

Photo courtesy Tim Elfrink

Sept. 2, 2014

Alumnus Tim Elfrink exposed one of the biggest drug-related scandals in professional sports history.

It began when investor Porter Fischer approached Elfrink in November 2012 claiming that Anthony Bosch, owner of Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida owed Fischer $4,000.

The $4,000 dispute quickly turned into an explosion when Fischer got his hands on hundreds of records while working for Biogenesis. The records showed that Bosch administered performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players.

Fischer decided to expose Bosch and his company by handing over all the records to Elfrink at the Miami New Times.

“There were tons of handwritten records and notebooks and I had to prove they were all legitimate,” Elfrink said. “I ended up calling every phone number I found in the documents and talking to clients.”

In January 2013, after months of reporting, Elfrink was able to break the story. Once his series of stories hit stands, Elfrink said investigators and top executives from MLB became involved.

“Two top executives came to our office and asked for the records,” Elfrink said. “We told them no. The experience was amazing, but also frightening.”

Fifteen MLB players were suspended over the scandal, including New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.

Though Elfrink’s series was done, he felt there were still untold stories hidden in the records.

“I was sitting on this huge amount of records, and I wanted to dive into them and tell the full story,” Elfrink said. “It’s like a crazy, south Florida crime thriller. The characters and stories are something you just can’t make up.”

Elfrink decided to turn his reporting into a book.

To cover the topic as thoroughly as possible, he teamed up with Gus Garcia-Roberts, one of Elfrink’s longtime friends who is an investigative reporter based in New York.

“We thought it would work best if we could report not just the Miami side, but also the New York side because that is where MLB is headquartered,” Elfrink said. “It made perfect sense to let Gus dive into it.”

Garcia-Roberts said writing the book was a true collaboration.

“We ended up doing reporting for both sides together,” Garcia-Roberts said. “We really started to share one brain as we were writing.”

Their book, titled “Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and the Quest to End Baseball’s Steroid Era,” was released in July and received positive reviews.

“I’m pretty excited about the feedback,” Garcia-Roberts said. “As people read the book, they realize how crazy the actual story is.”

Elfrink said an excerpt of the book was released in Sports Illustrated a week before its debut and was reviewed in The Washington Post.

“It’s really such a big story for anyone who cares about baseball,” Elfrink said. “People want to understand why it happened, and what it means for the sport.”

Since the book’s release, Bosch was arrested and agreed to plead guilty. He now awaits sentencing.

Elfrink said he plans to stay on top of the story as it continues to develop.

Elfrink graduated from MU in 2005. He majored in journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for The Maneater. He is now the managing editor of the Miami New Times and runs their news-blog “Riptide.”

He said his biggest piece of advice to journalism students would be to find stories you are interested in and write them the best you can.

“Don’t let yourself be limited by where you end up,” Elfrink said. “There are stories everywhere. If you enjoy reporting and care about writing, let that be what drives you.”

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