A-Rod admits using performance-enhancers
Published 2:54 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009
By By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez, the player who would restore integrity to baseball’s home run record, admitted Monday to using performance-enhancing drugs himself.
The All-Star third baseman said in an interview with ESPN that he used steroids with the Texas Rangers for three years, from 2001-03, in an attempt to justify his status as the game’s highest-paid player after signing a 10-year, $252 million contract.
He said he quit after 2003, his first of three AL MVP seasons, because “I’ve proved to myself and to everyone that I don’t need any of that.” He was traded to the New York Yankees before the 2004 season.
The admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that Rodriguez was among 104 names on a list of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, when testing was intended to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball. The results weren’t subject to discipline and were supposed to remain anonymous.
Rangers owner Tom Hicks said the admission caught him by surprise.
The 33-year-old Rodriguez ranks 12th on the career list with 553 homers, including 52, 57 and 47 in his three seasons with the Rangers. He is 209 behind Barry Bonds’ record 762.
Now, though, he’s on top of a much different list — the highest-profile player to confess to doping, joining teammates Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte.
Rodriguez’s admission is in stark contrast to the denials of former teammate Roger Clemens and Bonds.
Bonds, a seven-time MVP, is scheduled for trial next month on charges he lied when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Another federal grand jury is considering whether to indict seven-time AL Cy Young Award winner Clemens on charges he lied when he told a congressional committee last year that he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Rather than hold a news conference, as Giambi and Pettitte did for their confessionals, Rodriguez chose the controlled setting of an interview with ESPN, one of Major League Baseball’s television partners.
The interview left open many questions:
ESPN was scheduled to broadcast the full interview later Monday.
Monday’s ESPN interview directly contradicted a December 2007 interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” when Rodriguez said “No” when asked if he had ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance.
In his 2008 book, “Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and The Battle to Save Baseball,” Jose Canseco claimed he introduced Rodriguez to a steroids dealer. Canseco, who has admitted using steroids, subsequently said he had no knowledge of any drug use by Rodriguez.
SI said that Orza, the union’s chief operating officer, tipped off three players in September 2004 that they would be tested. Orza has repeatedly denied that he tipped off players, saying he merely reminded them late in the season that if they had not yet been tested, baseball’s drug agreement required them to be tested by the end of the regular season.
Orza, who has been widely criticized by media since the SI report, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he doesn’t care what the media says.
Rodriguez said Orza told him in August or September 2004 about the list of names that had been seized by federal investigators.
On Friday, Rodriguez is still expected to attend an event at the University of Miami, which is renaming its baseball field in his honor.
He gave $3.9 million to the school in 2003, the largest gift ever to the Hurricanes’ baseball program and money that provided much of the resources needed for renovating the existing on-campus stadium. In return, the baseball complex will be called Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Despite the scandal, the facility will continue to bear Rodriguez’s name, a university official said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitive nature.
Miami baseball players and coaches were not available for comment, spokesman Mark Pray said.
Associated Press Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Miami, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia and Stephen Hawkins in Dallas contributed to this report.