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02/08/2005 1:10 PM ET
Canseco book alleges steroid use
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In a book scheduled to be released on Monday, Jose Canseco says that he became the first Major League Baseball player to use steroids when he was a youngster with the Oakland A's.

In "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big," which will be published by ReganBooks, Canseco claims he introduced fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire to the performance-enhancing drug, and later, as a member of the Texas Rangers, helped teammates Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro take steroids.

Canseco's book also says that President George W. Bush, the Rangers' managing partner while Canseco was on the team, must have known about the drugs.

Rodriguez reacted to the allegations in Tuesday's edition of a San Juan, Puerto Rico, newspaper.

"I'm in shock," Rodriguez told El Nuevo Dia. "He is saying things that aren't true, and it hurts me a lot that he would say things like that because I've always had a lot of respect for him, and I've even helped him many times when things weren't going well for him."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on Monday that he had spoken to Bush about alleged steroid use.

"If there was [steroid use on the Rangers], he was not aware of it at the time," McClellan said.

"He has recognized, for some time now, that steroids is a growing problem in professional sports, particularly Major League Baseball," he said. "That's why the president has made addressing the issue a priority in his administration."

On Monday, Palmeiro, now playing for Baltimore, joined the chorus denouncing Canseco and his accusations.

In a statement released by the Orioles, Palmeiro said: "I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids. At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball. As I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco, any suggestion that he taught me anything about steroid use or otherwise, is ludicrous.

"We were teammates and that was the extent of our relationship. I am saddened that he felt it necessary to attempt to tarnish my image and that of the game that I love."

Palmeiro, who has had two stints with the Orioles during his 19-year career, was backed by owner Peter Angelos, who said the ballclub supported the four-time All-Star.

"The Orioles are solidly behind Rafael Palmeiro and have absolute confidence in him and in his denial of the Canseco story," Angelos said. "The Orioles will do everything we can to be of assistance to Raffy in meeting these allegations that have no foundation. We know him well and the kind of athlete he has been and the vigorous manner in which he has trained. He is a highly professional athlete."

Canseco only played 88 games with Palmeiro after he was traded to Texas on Aug. 31, 1992, through the 1993 season. Palmeiro signed as a free agent with the Orioles on Dec. 12, 1993. Canseco was swapped to Boston a year later.

Sunday's editions of the New York Daily News first reported Canseco's claims that he witnessed McGwire imparting his steroids wisdom on a young Jason Giambi when the two were with the A's.

Canseco said that the pair injected each other in the abdomen with steroids.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who helmed teams with McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis and Canseco before he was traded from the A's to the Rangers, defended McGwire in Monday's editions of The New York Times.

"We detailed Mark's workout routine -- six days a week, 12 months a year -- and you could see his size and weight gain come through really hard work, a disciplined regimen and the proteins he took -- all legal," said La Russa, who was McGwire's manager in 1998, when McGwire became the first player in baseball history to hit 70 homers.

"As opposed to the other guy, Jose, who would play around in the gym for 10 minutes, and all of a sudden he's bigger than anybody," La Russa said.

In 1998, McGwire admitted to using androstenedione, a testosterone-producing supplement, when a reporters found a tube of the substance in his locker. Andro was available over the counter and was legal in baseball at that time.

McGwire said, in a statement published by the Daily News, that andro was as far as he went.

"I have always told the truth and I am saddened that I continue to face this line of questioning," he said. "With regard to this book, I am reserving comment until I have the chance to review its contents myself."

Performance-enhancing drugs were not banned from baseball during the time period Canseco alleges that 80 percent of all Major Leaguers were using some sort of stimulant.

The MLB Players Association agreed with the owners to test for a limited number of steroids-based drugs beginning with the 2003 season. And last month, that program was upgraded to include increased testing, stronger penalties and more banned substances, including precursors and screening devices.

During the last two years, 10 MLB players were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury sitting in San Francisco investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) for tax evasion and distribution of steroids without prescriptions.

Four people were indicted, although none of them were players. In grand jury testimony leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, Giambi and Giants slugger Barry Bonds reportedly admitted that they knowingly or unknowingly used steroids.

Ken Caminiti, who said he used steroids during his 1996 National League MVP season with the Padres, died last October of a drug overdose. He was 42 years old.

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