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One year ago, Major League Baseball unveiled the damage from one of the biggest scandals in its history.

It was the day the game's highest executives told us their sport, without the evidence of a positive drug test, was still tainted.

It was a painful admission reached not through court proceedings or subpoenas, but rather their own dirty work.

They had confessions and all of the paperwork to prove it.

Major League Baseball, which spent more money probing Biogenesis, a South Florida wellness clinic, than the combined total of all of their previous investigations in history, handed down 13 suspensions on Aug. 5, 2013, an epic fallout from one scandal.

Some of the biggest stars in the game, including the richest player, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, went down. Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP winner, was also ensnared, his 65-game suspension coming two weeks earlier than the rest.

And it all started because of one man.

Porter Fischer.

Fischer, infuriated that his boss, Biogenesis director Tony Bosch, wasn't repaying a $4,000 loan, went to a South Florida weekly paper, the Miami New Times, and sought his revenge.

Fischer brought down the Biogenesis clinic, and many of baseball's biggest stars, with MLB officials getting down and dirty with Fischer, determined to find the cheaters.

"Sadly, I believe that Biogenesis would still be in operation today,'' Fischer said Monday in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, "if it was not for the intense media attention that was placed on the professional sports figures.

"There were many other clients/victims of Biogenesis that have been disregarded. There were numerous enforcement agencies that were aware of Biogenesis and its activities prior to the story, yet, turned a bureaucratic blind eye.''

MLB officials smelled blood after the New Times report and went for the jugular. They sent a horde of investigators to get their hands on clinic documents that would incriminate those they suspected of using testosterone, human growth hormone or other banned substances.

Fischer said he was even offered $125,000 cash to turn over the documents. He rejected the offer, but MLB officials obtained copies anyway, and went to work.

"I think that the intentions of MLB were pure,'' Fischer said, "but the execution from its investigators was over the top. Directed or not, I expected more dignity and poise from that organization.

"Some of the tactics, alliances and manipulations used during this ordeal are not proud characteristics I feel comfortable using next to 'Mom and Apple Pie.'"

Sure, there was some bullying.

There were bribes in return for information.

And there were threats.

Were players, union officials, and Fischer himself appalled at some of these tactics? Indeed.

One year later, MLB has no regrets. Simply, officials say, they had no choice if they wanted to acquire information that was circulating in South Florida.

"While we take no joy in proving that our players were involved in PED use,'' Rob Manfred, MLB vice president/labor, told USA TODAY Sports, "I am very proud of the way the Commissioner's office performed under very difficult circumstances. …

"When baseball learns of possible PED violations, Commissioner (Bud) Selig made clear we have no choice but respond aggressively. I believe that over the long haul, the Biogenesis case will cause players to avoid PED use.''

There has never been a season since MLB began disciplining players in 2005 that a player wasn't suspended for performance-enhancing drug use.

Yet, there has not been a single major league player who has failed a drug test for steroid or human growth hormone this season. San Diego Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin remains the only major leaguer who even tested positive for amphetamines.

"Our game is far cleaner today than it was 20 years ago,'' Manfred said, "and we will remain aggressive in that area to make sure it stays that way.''

Players, of course, happen to be a whole lot smarter, too. While former Biogenesis clients Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon tested positive for testosterone and were suspended in 2012, and Braun beat a similar positive result on a technicality in 2011, the other dozen players suspended in 2013 never failed a drug test.

It was the leaked paperwork, with Fischer's handiwork, which caused the suspensions.

"When you fail a drug test,'' Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Lab Co-Operative (BALCO), told USA TODAY Sports, "you're really failing an IQ test. I still believe it's relatively easy to take PEDs. It's like taking candy from a baby.

"But do I think that people are afraid after what happened with Biogenesis? Yes. It serves as a deterrent.''

We would be naive to believe the sport is 100% clean. Surely, there are those who still are cheating. They just happen to be a whole lot smarter in covering up any possible paper trail.

"There are Biogenesis-type clinics in every city,'' Fischer says. "Law enforcement is fully aware of other clinics just like Biogenesis, but it is up to the legal authorities to diligently pursue and shut down these clinics and PED suppliers without outside influence or intimidation.

"The ethical operation of these types of clinics, and the safety of the underage athletes and people in the community, should be a top priority across the country.''

Fisher has started a non-profit foundation, The Porter Project, which says it's "working with legislation to safeguard that clinics like Biogenesis are legally operated and diligently scrutinized to ensure the integrity of the game and its professional athletes.''

Maybe it will help. Maybe it won't make a bit of difference.

Fischer is on his own on this one.

"I remain very disappointed,'' Fischer said of MLB. "I am frustrated with the way they treated me and others trying to help. I expected at least a mention of gratitude or acknowledgement. There continue to be safety concerns that override MLB's desire for information. …

"There are still clinics servicing athletes, but I'm confident that with increased drug policies and enhanced testing, competitive athletes will understand that the reward is just not worth the risk.''

The reward may be worth it, but not the ridicule and scorn. These aren't the days when peers or union officials felt lousy for you, believing you caught a bad break. Now, you're humiliated, with the union offering its support in trying to catch the cheats.

The union is now even investigating several sports agencies to determine whether any of the agents played any role in facilitating PEDs for its players.

"I'm glad that the MLBPA has an active investigation into a number of these agencies, some of which were identified in the media,'' Fischer said. "In an effort of clean play and fair competition, this should be top of mind for these establishments.''

Biogenesis certainly sullied the reputation of the implicated players, Rodriguez in particular. He was the lone player to fight his suspension, and had his 211-game suspension reduced to 162 games.

Yet, while everyone but Rodriguez apologized, and everyone but Rodriguez is back playing, the rest of the Biogenesis boys have largely been forgiven. Oh, there's the smattering of boos in visiting cities, but nothing alarming.

This isn't John Rocker returning to New York City.

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz, who perhaps suffered the biggest financial hit in the wake of the investigation - signing a one-year, $8 million contract - has actually won the hearts of fans, winning baseball's biggest popularity contest.

It's called All-Star voting. Fans certainly didn't hold a grudge, voting him to the starting lineup.

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta certainly didn't suffer any financial hardships, receiving a four-year, $52 million contract, after the Detroit Tigers didn't bother to make a $14.1 million qualifying offer. He is having his prototypical year, hitting .252 with 15 homers and 45 RBI.

The rest include bit players and minor-leaguers whose names will be forgotten in time. But the impact of Biogenesis will endure.

Baseball's drug-testing program remains the toughest in North American team sports. Players expressed outrage toward the contract given Peralta.

MLB is making changes to its drug investigation team to make it "more effective and efficient,'' says Manfred, and will lurk.

"I think Biogenesis served as a deterrent, yes,'' Conte says. "But the incentive to use drugs still exists. They are still very large loopholes in the MLB program.

"I still believe there's an inadequate amount of testing done in the off-season, and that's when the fish are biting. Let's watch and see what happens.''

Manfred and his force vow to be watching, too.​

Contributing: Josh Peter

GALLERY: MLB'S Biogenesis suspensions

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