Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Boston Globe on Aug. 2, 2009.
Major League Baseball opened an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs inside the Red Sox clubhouse at the height of last year’s pennant race after two members of the team’s security staff were implicated in steroid use.
Both men were fired in a case that speaks to both Major League Baseball’s new intolerance for steroids and its inconclusive efforts to investigate suspicious cases.
The security staffers said they were dismissed after what they termed a cursory inquiry by Major League Baseball, and very limited questioning by the team - even though one of the guards says he swapped advice about steroids with David Ortiz’s close friend and personal assistant.
Both men said they told investigators they had no direct knowledge of steroid use by Red Sox players, including Manny Ramirez or Ortiz, both of whom were named in a New York Times report last week as having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
But, in interviews with the Globe, both revealed clubhouse details that could have fueled a more zealous inquiry. And the investigation did not even resolve the basic question of where the steroids the security staffer was caught with came from.
“I’m sure they were hoping I didn’t know anything,” said Jared Remy, one of the security staffers who lost his job. “It’s like they didn’t want to know. It’s like: Do we really want to know or do we just want it to go away?”
The major league inquiry began after State Police confiscated a vial of steroids from the car of Nicholas Alex Cyr, a security staffer who was returning from a Red Sox-related event just before last year’s All-Star break in mid-July. Cyr told police he had bought the drug from Remy, the son of Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy.
Jared Remy denied being the supplier, but acknowledged in interviews with the Globe that he has been a steroid user.
Before they were fired, both men were first suspended and questioned about whether the drug was being used by Red Sox players.
“[The MLB investigator] asked: Is it being sold in the clubhouse? I’m like, `I don’t believe so,”’ said Cyr, 27, who was found asleep at the wheel of his car in the middle of Quincy Shore Drive last summer. He was returning to his Weymouth home from the Beckett Bowl, a fund-raiser in Malden hosted by Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett.
State Police found a quarter-full brown bottle of Anadrol, a powerful steroid, in the center console of Cyr’s car.
Both club employees were summoned before the Red Sox security director and a representative of Major League Baseball’s investigations department before losing their jobs in September.
Last year’s steroid investigation can be read - as it is by Major League Baseball - as proof of a new zeal to crack down on even the slightest whiff of wrongdoing.
But it also can be read - as it is by some specialists who study steroid abuse and the men who lost their jobs - as an indication that big-league baseball is focused more on its public image than on aggressively policing its players.
Major League Baseball defended its investigation as “thorough and detailed” and said that it led to further “investigative activities” that it would not disclose. The league would not say whether Ortiz or Ramirez were interviewed in the case.
“The contents of these interviews and the results of the investigation, like all department of investigations activities, are confidential,” MLB said in a statement.
Red Sox officials declined to be interviewed for this article.
Remy, who said he was not surprised that Ortiz has been linked to the doping scandal, said that during questioning by a league investigator last year he was never asked about Ortiz’s assistant - even though Remy said a Red Sox security official had warned him in 2007 to stay away from the man, whom Remy said was a steroid user.
Remy, 30, said he believed the questioning, conducted in a Fenway Park conference room by MLB investigator Eduardo Dominguez, lasted about 15 minutes. It seemed to him a perfunctory exercise in damage control.
“They didn’t ask much at all; they wanted to make it disappear,” he said.
“Major League Baseball asked me, `Have you ever seen any players do steroids?”’ Remy recalled. “I said, `No. no.’ ... He said, `If you’re honest with me, nothing will happen to you.’ Next thing I know, I get fired.”
Cyr, who is known by his middle name, Alex, was accompanied to his interview by his mother, Lindsey. The Cyrs said they spoke with Dominguez, a former Boston police detective, for about an hour.
“They tried to see if Jared had been selling to the clubhouse,” said Alex Cyr.
Dominguez questioned them about whether marquee members of the team, including Ramirez and Ortiz, were using steroids, the Cyrs said.
“Absolutely. That’s all he wanted to know,” Lindsey Cyr said. “He asked Alex if Alex had ever given any to Manny Ramirez and he said absolutely not.”
Cyr’s 3 a.m. run-in with the State Police near Wollaston Beach came amid a tumultuous summer for the Red Sox and for Ramirez, and just three weeks before the troubled slugger was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Although both men were $11-an-hour security guards, Cyr said he sometimes would go shopping for Ramirez at big-box retail outlets, or would run errands using Ramirez’s car. Remy said he had close access to Ramirez, too, sometimes serving as the only clubhouse guard when Ramirez worked out in the Fenway Park gym on mornings before other players arrived.
In addition, the former aide to Ortiz openly discussed his own steroid use, according to Remy. That salaried personal assistant, Felix Leopoldo Marquez Galice, is a Dominican currently facing possible deportation for covering up his illegal status by using the name of a Puerto Rican man serving prison time for a drug offense.
Remy and Marquez - known by the nickname “Monga” - often chatted during their workouts at the Gold’s Gym on Lansdowne Street, and sometimes spotted each other while weightlifting, Remy said.
“He admitted taking steroids. We had conversations about steroids,” said Remy.
“We’d talk, `This one works for that. This one makes you bulky. This one makes you harder,”’ Remy recalled.
Marquez’s lawyer, Thomas Kerner, disputed that account. “I have no idea on the credibility of Jared Remy, but my client has told me that he has no involvement in steroids.”
A massively muscular man, Remy is unapologetic about having used steroids and proud of his knowledge of weightlifting. He can be seen striking bodybuilding poses in photos posted on his girlfriend’s Facebook page.
Remy has faced several assault charges, most recently in 2005, when he beat up a previous girlfriend. He acknowledges having made mistakes in his life, but said he would never take the legal risk of selling steroids.
Remy said Red Sox security chief Charles Cellucci had warned him to stay away from Marquez while in his Fenway work clothes - months before Marquez was charged with identity fraud in July 2007. And it was Major League Baseball that tipped off federal authorities to Marquez’s identity theft. Nevertheless, Remy said he was never questioned about Marquez during last year’s steroids investigation.
And neither the team nor Major League Baseball apparently sought to resolve the disputed versions of where Cyr obtained the steroids he was caught with.
“The fact that the interview [with Remy] was so short would lead many people to believe they were going through the motions for appearance’s sake,” said Charles Yesalis, a specialist on performance-enhancing drugs. And Dominguez never sought to question Marquez himself about possible involvement with steroids, according to Kerner, Marquez’s lawyer.
Yesalis, an emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University, said he believes professional sports executives today are generally concerned about doping only so far as it brings them bad publicity. He said the manner in which Major League Baseball and the Red Sox handled Cyr and Remy suggested a desire to appear to be taking the matter seriously, rather than a sincere interest in a thorough investigation.
“You have to show a reasonable amount of activity,” Yesalis said. “It doesn’t have to be thorough, it just has to show activity - `We asked these guys and we fired them.”’
Red Sox officials declined repeated requests for an interview, and did not respond to a list of written questions from the Globe. Team president Larry Lucchino, reached by telephone, referred reporters to a team spokeswoman, who issued a brief statement.
“The Boston Red Sox worked with Major League Baseball’s department of investigations on matters involving the termination of two hourly employees, Alex Cyr and Jared Remy,” the statement read. “These activities, like all activities related to employee status or termination, are confidential.”
The decision to promptly fire Cyr and Remy does underscore the league’s and team’s tougher attitude about performance-enhancing drug use, and stands in sharp relief to how baseball officials dealt with a similar incident in June 2000, when a Red Sox clubhouse worker was stopped by State Police on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester.
That employee was driving a car loaned to him by then-Sox utility infielder Manny Alexander. Police found steroids and syringes in the glove compartment of the Mercedes.
The punishment? Charges against Alexander were dismissed for lack of evidence. The clubhouse worker was reassigned to a maintenance job at Fenway.
Major League Baseball closed its investigation without determining who was responsible for the drugs and without interviewing Alexander.
The Alexander incident is recounted in the 2007 landmark report authored by former Maine senator George Mitchell that sketched a portrait of baseball’s longtime laissez-faire reaction to reports of player use of steroids and other drugs.
Mitchell is a member of the Red Sox leadership and his report drew some criticism from those who believed the team was treated lightly in the report’s findings.
Cyr and Remy had worked together at the park since 2004, typically staffing the day shift. They said they guarded gates and searched the bags of guests who toured the park during off hours. They were reprimanded in late 2007, they said, for taking boxes of ‘07 World Series jackets and placing them in their car trunks. “It was stupid,” said Cyr, noting the episode was captured on surveillance video.
Cyr said Cellucci, who meted out the punishment for that offense, called him in again last September after he was found with steroids. “He’s like, `What’s going on here? This isn’t good,”’ Cyr said, recalling the team security chief’s decision to suspend him.
Remy said he learned that he had been named as the source of Cyr’s steroids from Mike Dee, then the Red Sox chief operating officer. “[Dee] basically told me the Red Sox have a no-steroids policy,” Remy said. “If your name’s even mentioned, you’re going to get fired.”
Remy said he briefly considered pressing a case for wrongful dismissal but abandoned the idea. He said he believes the team’s paramount interest was avoiding bad publicity.
“I was never asked a question from anyone on the Red Sox - not one,” Remy said. “You would’ve thought they would’ve asked me something, you know.” Major League Baseball rules allow teams to conduct investigations independent of the league.
Cyr told police that he had just one beer at the Beckett Bowl on the night he was found asleep at the wheel. Cyr passed all field sobriety tests and had no odor of alcohol, according to the police report.
The next day his mother paid for a private drug screening test that, she said, showed he had no traces of steroids in his system. Cyr said that he has used the drug only once.
State Police did not investigate whether others might be involved with Cyr or Remy in the steroids case.
Although troopers knew both men worked for the Red Sox at the time that the steroids were seized from Cyr’s car in July 2008, Cyr was not asked until more than two months later whether he would assist State Police in an investigation into steroid use in Norfolk County in exchange for leniency in his sentence.
His chief concern, he said, was to keep the matter private. But by the time he was approached by police, his case was part of a public court file, so he declined. “I had nothing to gain, so I said no,” Cyr said.
A spokesman said that in such cases involving the seizure of a small amount of drugs, State Police leave it up to the trooper who made the stop to determine whether and when to approach the defendants to gain their cooperation.
For his part, Cyr, who said he performed 20 hours of community service, wants to put the incident permanently behind him when his court-imposed probation expires in mid-September.
“Obviously, I did something wrong,” Cyr said. “I know that. Shouldn’t have done it.”