March 27, 2015 / 8:24 PM / 4 years ago

Alex Rodriguez's cousin pleads guilty in U.S. baseball doping scandal

MIAMI (Reuters) - A cousin of Alex Rodriguez pleaded guilty in Miami federal court on Friday to conspiring to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, after playing a prominent role in linking the New York Yankees slugger to baseball’s doping scandal.

Yuri Sucart, 52, was arrested in August, along with the owner of a Florida anti-aging clinic that supplied testosterone-filled syringes and other performance-enhancing drugs to some of Major League Baseball’s leading stars.

Under his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to seek eight months prison time for Sucart, said his attorney, Edward O’Donnell. His sentencing is scheduled for June 4.

Rodriguez, one of baseball’s best-paid players, gave Sucart nearly $1 million in 2013, according to court records, after Sucart threatened to expose himself as the player’s “steroid mule.”

After being suspended for the entire 2014 season over the doping scandal, Rodriguez returned to the field for the Yankees for spring training in Tampa, Florida.

Sucart pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute human growth hormone, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

“You actively recruited the players, who you told could get help getting bigger and recovering from injuries faster,” said Judge Cecilia Altonaga during the hearing.

She noted he was involved in a scheme that charged student-athletes $3,500 a month for performance enhancing drugs, while professional athletes paid up to $19,000 per month.

Sucart, who arrived in court using a walker and suffers from multiple health issues including a brain tumor, said he feels no anger at his famous cousin.

“My main concern now is my family and my continuing recovery,” he said.

Sucart was initially charged with conspiring to distribute testosterone and five counts of distributing testosterone, punishable by a total of 20 years in prison.

Anthony Bosch, 51, the owner of the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to distribute testosterone and was sentenced in February to four years in prison.

Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by Letitia Stein and Eric Beech

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