A-Rod admits using performance-enhancing drugs

(AP) - Already the highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguezwanted to prove himself one of the greatest. Instead, he wound upatop another list: the highest-profile player to confess tocheating in baseball's

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2009, 2:13 PM

Updated 5,639 days ago

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(AP) - Already the highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguezwanted to prove himself one of the greatest. Instead, he wound upatop another list: the highest-profile player to confess tocheating in baseball's steroids era. The All-Star third baseman, responding to a weekend SportsIllustrated report that he flunked a drug test, told ESPN on Mondayhe used banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from2001-03 to justify his 10-year, $252 million contract. "Back then it was a different culture," Rodriguez said. "Itwas very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive, and Iwanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth, you know -and being one of the greatest players of all time." He said he didn't do it before that and quit during springtraining in 2003, before the first of three AL MVP seasons, because"I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any ofthat." He was traded to the New York Yankees before the 2004season, and said he hasn't used since. The admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported onits Web site that Rodriguez was among 104 names on a list ofplayers who tested positive for steroids in 2003, when testing wasintended to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball. Theresults weren't subject to discipline and were supposed to remainanonymous, but were seized by the government in 2004 and remainunder seal. "When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount ofpressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top ofme and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level everyday," Rodriguez said. "And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I'mvery sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the cultureback then and Major League Baseball overall was very - I just feelthat - You know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorryto fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then thatI ever thought about substance of any kind." In his first prime-time news conference, President Barack Obamacalled Rodriguez's admission "depressing" news. "And if you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think ittarnishes an entire era, to some degree," Obama said. "And it'sunfortunate, because I think there were a lot of ballplayers whoplayed it straight." Rodriguez said part of the reason he started using drugs was theheat in Texas. "Can I have an edge just to get out there and play every day?"he said to himself. "You basically end up trusting the wrongpeople. You end up, you know, not being very careful about whatyou're ingesting." Though Rodriguez said he experimented with a number ofsubstances, he never provided details. "It was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot ofthings. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all theright questions," Rodriguez said. "And to be quite honest, Idon't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using." SI reported Rodriguez tested positive for Primobolan andtestosterone. He said he stopped using during spring training 2003, when hesustained a neck injury. It was just as baseball started itsdrug-testing survey. It was only in 2004 that testing withpenalties began. Rangers owner Tom Hicks said the admission caught him bysurprise. "I feel personally betrayed. I feel deceived by Alex," Hickssaid in a conference call. "He assured me that he had far too muchrespect for his own body to ever do that to himself." During those three seasons, Rodriguez led the American League inhomers each year and averaged 161.7 games, 52 homers, 131.7 RBIsand a .615 slugging percentage. In the other 10 full seasons of hiscareer, he averaged 149.2 games, 39.2 homers, 119 RBIs, and a .574slugging percentage, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. "This is three years I'm not proud of," Rodriguez said. The 33-year-old Rodriguez ranks 12th on the career list with 553homers, including 52, 57 and 47 in his three seasons with theRangers. He is 209 behind Barry Bonds' record 762. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who sits on the Housecommittee that brought Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and otherbaseball players to Capitol Hill in recent years, favored acongressional hearing with Rodriguez. "It would be good perhaps for us to sit down and talk to him,"Cummings said in a telephone interview. "I would think that hewould want to cooperate with us so that the Congress would have theinformation it may need." The Yankees said in a statement that "we urged Alex to becompletely open, honest and forthcoming" and that "we take him athis word that he was." "Although we are disappointed in the mistake he spoke to today,we realize that Alex - like all of us - is a human being not immuneto fault," the team said. "We support Alex, and we will doeverything we can to help him deal with this challenge." Rodriguez's admission was in stark contrast to the denials ofBonds and of Clemens, Rodriguez's former Yankees teammate. Bonds, a seven-time MVP, is scheduled for trial next month oncharges that he lied when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 thathe never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Anotherfederal grand jury is considering whether to indict seven-time ALCy Young Award winner Clemens on charges he lied when he told acongressional committee last year that he never used steroids orhuman growth hormone. Rather than hold a news conference, as Giambi and Pettitte didfor their confessionals, Rodriguez chose the controlled setting ofan interview with ESPN, one of Major League Baseball's televisionpartners. The interview left open many questions: - From whom did Rodriguez obtain drugs? - How did he pay for them? - Did anyone help him to obtain them? Monday's ESPN interview directly contradicted a December 2007interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," when Rodriguez said "No"when asked if he had ever used steroids, human growth hormone orany other performance-enhancing substance. "I wasn't even being truthful with myself," he said Monday."Today, I'm here to tell the truth." SI also reported that Gene Orza, the union's chief operatingofficer, tipped off three players in September 2004 that they wouldbe tested. Orza has denied that he did so, saying he merelyreminded them late in the season that if they had not yet beentested, baseball's drug agreement required them to be tested by theend of the regular season. Fehr reiterated in a statement that there was no impropertipping of players. "Any allegations that Gene Orza or any other MLBPA officialacted improperly are wrong," he said. Rodriguez said Orza told him in August or September 2004 aboutthe list of names that had been seized by federal investigators. "He said there's a government list. There's 104 players in it.You might or might not have tested positive," Rodriguez said. On Friday, Rodriguez is still expected to attend an event at theUniversity of Miami, which is renaming its baseball field in hishonor. He gave $3.9 million to the school in 2003, the largest giftever to the Hurricanes' baseball program and money that providedmuch of the resources needed for renovating the existing on-campusstadium. In return, the baseball complex will be called Mark LightField at Alex Rodriguez Park. Despite the scandal, the facility will continue to bearRodriguez's name.


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