A-Rod admits using performance-enhancers

February 9, 2009 12:56:12 PM PST
His voice shaking at times, Alex Rodriguez met head-on allegations that he tested positive for steroids six years ago, telling ESPN on Monday that he did take performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers during a three-year period beginning in 2001."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 told ESPN's Peter Gammons in an exclusive interview in Miami Beach, Fla. An extended interview will air on SportsCenter at 6 p.m. ET.

"Back then, [baseball] was a different culture," Rodriguez said. "It was very loose. I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

"I did take a banned substance. For that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful." Rodriguez's admission comes 48 hours after Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez was on a list of 104 players who tested positive for banned substances in 2003, the year when Major League Baseball conducted survey tests to see if mandatory, random drug-testing was needed in the sport.

Sources who know about the testing results told SI that Rodriguez tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, an anabolic steroid. In his ESPN interview, Rodriguez said he did not know exactly which substance or substances he had taken. In 2003, there were no penalties for a positive result.

"To be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using," Rodriguez said.

He blamed himself and his $252 million contract he signed with the Texas Rangers in 2001 for his decision to use performance-enhancing drugs.

"Overall, I felt a tremendous pressure to play, and play really well" in Texas, the New York Yankees third baseman said. "I had just signed this enormous contract I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level."

Rodriguez added: "I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas."

Rodriguez, who joined the Yankees for the 2004 season after a trade from Texas, said "all my years in New York have been clean." He also described the recent turn of events as the biggest challenge of his life but added it felt good to be honest about what he's done in the past.

"It's been a rough 15 months here for me," Rodriguez said. "I was stupid for three years. I was very, very stupid."

He also said: "The more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get baseball [back] to where it needs to be."

Rodriguez said he stopped taking substances after injuring himself at spring training in 2003 with the Rangers.

"It wasn't a real dramatic day. I started experimenting with things that, today, are not legal," he said, "that today are not accepted ... ever since that incident happened, I realized that I don't need any of it."

He said the culture earlier this decade of taking performance-enhancing substances was "prevalent." "There were a lot of people doing a lot of different things," Rodriguez said, noting that he wasn't specifically pointing out the Rangers.

Rodriguez said he was told by Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the MLB Players' Association, that he might, or might not, have tested positive in the 2003 survey. That conversation happened during the 2004 season. A source told ESPN on Saturday that Rodriguez knew he had failed the test.

According to the Mitchell Report, all players who failed the test in 2003 were notified by September 2004.

Rodriguez said he didn't know for sure he had failed a test until Sports Illustrated contacted him last week.

Orza told The New York Times he did not tip off Rodriguez to a test at the conclusion of the '04 season. "It's not true. Simple as that," he told the newspaper on Monday via e-mail.

Rodriguez also said of his 2007 interview with Katie Couric on "60 Minutes," when he denied ever using steroids, that "at the time, I wasn't being truthful with myself. How could I be truthful with Katie Couric or CBS?"