- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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A doctor who disputed the interpretation of an MRI showing that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had a quad strain was previously reprimanded by the state of New Jersey in February for not properly supervising an unlicensed employee.
As part of the report filed by the state's attorney general, Dr. Michael Gross failed to "adequately ensure proper patient treatment involving the prescribing of hormones, including steroids" at the Acting Center for Health & Wellness.
"These were not anabolic steroids," Gross told ESPN New York on Wednesday night. "They weren't that stuff. We weren't treating athletes. Steroids are not illegal. They are banned in professional sports, but we weren't treating those people. We were treating people with a medical problem -- low testosterone or menopause."
SNY first reported that Gross was reprimanded by the state of New Jersey.
Gross said he never has met Rodriguez in person. But on Wednesday, with Rodriguez's permission, Gross went on an extensive media tour, declaring that an MRI did not show a quad strain. Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad had diagnosed Rodriguez with a Grade 1 strain. Rodriguez is expected to be out for at least two weeks.
Rodriguez is being investigated by Major League Baseball because of his alleged association with Anthony Bosch, who operated an anti-aging clinic in Miami and is accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and other athletes. Gross said he only talked on the phone with Rodriguez and told him he could not declare the third baseman ready to play without a full examination.
"I spoke with Alex on the phone, and I asked him if he has any pain and he said, 'I don't,'" Gross said prior to the reprimand being reported. "I said, 'Do you have an injury?' And he said, 'I don't.' He said, 'Would you be willing to say I'm ready to play?' I said, 'No, I'm not willing to say that. I've never examined you. I've looked at your MRI.' But I asked him if you think you are ready to play and he said, 'Yes.'"
Gross, the chief of orthopedics at Hackensack Medical Center in New Jersey, said he was connected with Rodriguez through a mutual colleague who is a physical therapist.
"I explained it [to Rodriguez] as a little unusual to just look at an MRI without actually examining the patient -- and I'm not a radiologist -- but I'd be happy to look at the MRI," Gross said.
Gross did not receive payment for his consultation.
"I did it because I thought it would be fun," Gross said. "I thought it would be interesting to be on this side of stuff. It was a lot of fun until the last half hour."
At his Wellness Center, Gross said, they do personal training, dieting, acupuncture, massage and bio-identical hormone replacement. He said two years ago, the state board of New Jersey investigated his clinic.
"I had a guy working there as a counselor who had graduated from medical school and finished a residency in internal medicine, but was never licensed in New Jersey, so he was talking to patients, going over their lab results and things like that," Gross said.
"The board felt [that was wrong]. We never called him doctor or anything. We had patients sign a waiver knowing that he wasn't a doctor. I didn't want to be accused of anything, but they felt he wasn't adequately supervised, so they reprimanded me. They didn't take my license away. They didn't suspend my license. They reprimanded. It is a public record, so it came out."
Gross was fined a civil penalty of $30,000 and had to pay $10,000 in court costs.