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A-Rod admits to steroids use with Rangers
NEW YORK -- Already the highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez wanted to prove himself one of the greatest. Instead, he wound up atop another list: the highest-profile player to confess to cheating in baseball's steroids era.
The All-Star third baseman, responding to a weekend Sports Illustrated report that he flunked a drug test, told ESPN on Monday he used banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03 to justify his 10-year, $252 million contract.
"Back then it was a different culture," Rodriguez said. "It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive, and I wanted 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 spring training 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 of that." He was traded to the New York Yankees before the 2004 season, and said he hasn't used since.
The admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported 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.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez said.
"And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the culture back then and Major League Baseball overall was very -- I just feel that -- You know, I'm just sorry. I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about substance of any kind."
In his first prime-time news conference, President Barack Obama called Rodriguez's admission "depressing" news.
"And if you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree," Obama said. "And it's unfortunate, because I think there were a lot of ballplayers who played it straight."
Rodriguez said part of the reason he started using drugs was the heat in Texas.