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A-Rod Admits Using Performance Enhancers


In the ongoing saga of doping in sports, the latest revelation was a huge one. Baseball's preeminent star, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, admits that he used banned drugs.

Mr. ALEX RODRIGUEZ (Major League Baseball Player): You know, I got caught up in this everybody's doing it era, and I feel, you know, deep regret for that.

WERTHEIMER: Those comments were yesterday on ESPN and followed a weekend article that said Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. NPR's Todd Goldman reports.

TODD GOLDMAN: Going forward there will be tons written and said about Alex Rodriguez's moment of truth. Some will criticize him for not being truthful enough. He claims not to know which drugs he took during a period from 2001 to 2003 and from whom he got them. But even the most skeptical have to acknowledge A-Rod's admission certainly stood out from the parade of doping denials in recent years by baseball's elite, from alleged drug takers like Roger Clemens...

Mr. ROGER CLEMENS (Major League Baseball Player): Let me be clear, I have never taken steroids or HGH.

GOLDMAN: ...and Barry Bonds...

Mr. BARRY BONDS (Major League Baseball Player): All of you have lied. All of you have said something wrong. All of you have dirt.

GOLDMAN: ...to those who tested positive like Rafael Palmeiro...

Mr. RAFAEL PALMEIRO (Major League Baseball Player): Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period.

GOLDMAN: Even A-Rod was part of the parade. In 2007, Katie Couric interviewed him on CBS's "60 Minutes."

(Soundbite of TV show, "60 Minutes")

Ms. KATIE COURIC (CBS Anchor): For the record, have you ever used steroids, human growth hormone, or any other performance-enhancing substance?


GOLDMAN: But that was before Sports Illustrated broke the story this past weekend that Rodriguez was one of 104 players who tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. Faced with that, he sat down opposite ESPN's Peter Gammons yesterday and said, yes, he had used for three years starting in 2001. He was with a new team, the Texas Rangers, after having signed the richest contract in sports history, $252 million over ten years. Rodriguez said he felt enormous pressure to perform.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: So I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level.

GOLDMAN: Those seasons in Texas statistically were three of his best. In 2004, he signed with the Yankees, baseball's highest profile team. In recent years, people with doping suspicions about Barry Bonds held up A-Rod as the clean player who would someday surpass Bonds as the all-time home run leader. Gammons asked Rodriguez whether he worried about that praise, knowing he used drugs.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, it worried me completely, absolutely. And today, although I know that people are going to be very disappointed, just like I am, I feel good about moving forward and doing things the way I've been doing it the last five years, and the way I did it prior to being in Texas.

GOLDMAN: Rodriguez says he hasn't used drugs since his Texas days, but admits it'll be hard to prove that to all baseball fans. He says telling the truth gets a gorilla off his back, but one wonders how easy it'll be to move on, for him and for baseball. Spring training starts next week, normally a time of hope and excitement; it's yet again clouded by a doping era that doesn't seem to go away.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.