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Major League Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez admitted in an interview with ESPN that he took performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003.
Rodriguez,baseball’s richest player as a New York Yankees superstar,made the admission to the television network two days after Sports Illustrated magazine’s website reported “A-Rod” had tested positive for steroids in 2003.
“I did take a banned substance. For that,I am very sorry and deeply regretful,” Rodriguez said on Monday.
A 12-time All-Star whose parents immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic,Rodriguez was traded from Texas to the Yankees in 2004,three years into a then record 10-year contract worth USD 252 million.
“I had just signed this enormous contract,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like I needed something,a push,without over-investigating what I was taking,to get me to the next level.”
The shame of Rodriguez,who inked a record 10-year deal with the Yankees in 2007 worth 275 million dollars,follows upon doping links by several top stars and sparked President Barack Obama to comment upon the situation’s sadness.
“It’s depressing news on top of what has been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball,” Obama said at a news conference,adding the new admission “tarnishes an entire era to some degree”.
Rodriguez said he took steroids from the time he started playing for the Rangers through 2003,when he was the American League Most Valuable Player.
“When I arrived in Texas in 2001,I felt an enormous amount of pressure,felt all the weight of the world on top of me to perform,and perform at a high level every day,” Rodriguez said.
“Back then,(there) was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young,I was stupid,I was naive. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.”
Instead,Rodriguez joined a list of shamed stars whose feats have been clouded by doping accusations,one that includes US all-time home run king Barry Bonds and star pitcher Roger Clemens.
Bonds faces a perjury trial next month for lying to a grand jury when he said he did not take performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens is being investigated for possibly lying under oath to US lawmakers when saying he was clean.
“I’m just going to have a blanket cloud over my career,but it feels really good coming out and being completely honest,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older and a little wiser is that the truth will set you free. I’ve been stupid. I’ve grown up. Until you have that monkey off your back,it’s hard to be that person you know you can be. It’s hard to realize your potential.”
Living down to critics who dubbed him “A-Fraud”,Rodriguez said he hopes he will be judged on his non-steroid seasons when it comes time to consider him among the game’s greatest legends.
“I hope people give it time and realize this was three years I’m not proud of,but judge me on prior Texas and post-Texas,” Rodriguez said. “I have nine years left in my career that I think I can do some very special things. I’m going to have a sample of years past this where I get to show I’m improved as a player,hopefully on a championship team or two. I know a number of people will be disappointed in me but I look forward to moving forward as I have the last five years and as I did before 2001.”
The magazine report cited four anonymous sources who claimed Rodriguez was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003 as part of a pilot test program whose results were meant to stay secret.
Investigators into the BALCO steroid scandal wound up obtaining the testing results and the list of names linked to the samples,opening the door to the revelation of Rodriguez and potentially more than 100 other dope cheats.
“I’m sorry for that time. I’m sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t until then I thought about substances of any kind and since then I’ve proven to everyone that I didn’t need those things. I’m guilty for being negligent,for not asking all the right questions. To be honest I don’t know what substances I was guilty of using.”
Rodriguez tested positive for the anabolic steroids Primobolan and testosterone,according to the SI report. Rodriguez,the AL Most Valuable Player in 2005 and 2007 for the Yankees,hit a league-best 47 homers in 2003 and with 553 career homers was seen as a likely candidate to eclipse Bonds as the all-time homer king.
“All my years in New York have been clean,” Rodriguez said.
During the 2001-2003 span,Rodriguez averaged 52 homers and 161 games a season. In his other 10 major league seasons,”A-Rod” averaged 39 homers and 148 games.