02/07/09 10:46 AM EST
SI: A-Rod tested positive in 2003
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Rodriguez's name appeared on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's 2003 survey testing, SI said. He reportedly tested positive for testosterone and an anabolic steroid called Primobolan while playing for Texas.
There is no indication that Rodriguez has tested positive for steroids since 2003. When approached by SI's Selena Roberts on Thursday at the University of Miami, Rodriguez refused to discuss the test results.
"You'll have to talk to the union," Rodriguez said. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."
There were no penalties for a positive test in 2003, with testing conducted to determine if MLB would impose random drug testing for 2004. But MLB's drug policy has expressly prohibited the use of steroids without a valid prescription since 1991.
While testosterone can be taken legally with an appropriate medical prescription, Primobolan -- also known by the chemical name methenolone -- is not an approved prescription drug in the United States, nor was it in 2003.
A dihydrotestosterone-based anabolic steroid that can be taken orally or injected, Primobolan was popular with baseball players because it could help to improve strength and build lean muscle without creating an exaggeratedly bulky appearance, and with fewer side effects than some other steroids. It is also detectable for a shorter period of time.
The SI report also indicated, citing three Major League players, that Rodriguez had been tipped by MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza in early September 2004 that he would be tested later in the month. Rodriguez declined to respond to SI when asked about the warning Orza allegedly provided him.
When Orza was asked on Friday in the union's New York City office about the tipping allegations, he told SI's David Epstein, "I'm not interested in discussing this information with you."
A-Rod since 2003
|Alex Rodriguez's at-bats, home runs and RBIs over the past six seasons|
In a statement released Saturday, the MLBPA said that there had been no improper tipping of players in 2004 about the timing of drug tests. The MLBPA said that information and documents relating to the results of the '03 tests remain both confidential and under seal in California by court order.
"We are prohibited from confirming or denying any allegation about the test results of any particular player(s) by the collective bargaining agreement and by court orders," the MLBPA statement said. "Anyone with knowledge of such documents who discloses their contents may be in violation of those court orders."
SI reported that two sources familiar with the evidence the government gathered in its investigation of steroid use in baseball, and two other sources with knowledge of the results, said that Rodriguez was one of the 104 players who tested positive.
MLB's executive vice president of labor relations, Rob Manfred, also issued a statement on Saturday, which read:
"We are disturbed by the allegations contained in the Sports Illustrated news story which was posted online this morning. Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous, we can not make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named.
"Based on the results of the 2003 tests, Major League Baseball was able to institute a mandatory random-testing program with penalties in 2004. Major League Baseball and the Players Association have improved the drug testing program on several occasions so that it is now the toughest program in professional sports. The program bans stimulants, such as amphetamines, as well as steroids.
"Any allegation of tipping that took place under prior iterations of the program is of grave concern to Major League Baseball, as such behavior would constitute a serious breach of our agreement.
"Under Commissioner Selig's leadership, Major League Baseball remains fully committed to the elimination of the use of performance enhancing substances from baseball. As the Commissioner has said, we will continue to do everything within our power to eliminate the use of such drugs and to protect the integrity of the program."
Rodriguez's personal manager, Guy Oseary, declined comment when reached by telephone on Saturday afternoon. Telephone messages left for Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman were not immediately returned. The Yankees have not issued an official statement concerning Rodriguez.
John Hart -- the Texas Rangers' general manager during the 2003 season and now a senior advisor with the club -- appeared on the MLB Network on Saturday, saying that he was saddened by the report, but not completely surprised.
"I think in the climate that we have today, you don't have much shock anymore," Hart said. "Obviously, Alex probably is the best player in baseball. This has always been a special talent and the guy has been putting up Hall of Fame numbers since the day he showed up in the big leagues. It saddens me. I've been in the game for almost 40 years and it hurts a little bit, if in fact this is true."
Hart -- Texas' GM from November 2001 through October 2005 -- said that Rodriguez will be impacted when the Yankees' Spring Training camp opens next week.
"Looking up at what he's done and his career, I think it's going to affect him," Hart said. "He has the ability at times to tune it out, but he's in a huge media market there in New York. It's going to be a huge story."
The A-Rod news follows information that was obtained through Sen. George Mitchell's 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drugs and baseball. In many ways, the SI report validates the credibility of the Mitchell Report document.
The MLBPA had agreed to anonymous survey testing in 2003, with no penalties to be carried at that time. But more than 5 percent of big league players tested positive, triggering a new steroids testing program that started in 2004.
Concerning that program, the Mitchell Report reads: "Concerns have been raised about the collection procedures used, including allegations that some players received advance notice of testing." The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Barry Bonds' former personal trainer, Greg Anderson, received notice that Bonds would be tested in late May or early June 2004. Bonds was tested on May 28 and June 4.
In compiling the Report, the Mitchell Commission investigated allegations that players received advance notice of tests in 2004. Mitchell interviewed personnel from Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., the company responsible for sample collection, but representatives denied that they provided advance notice to Bonds or anyone else.
In April 2004, federal agents seized records of the 2003 survey testing. Those warrants sought drug testing records and samples for 10 Major League players connected with the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), and included data that could determine the identities of the players who tested positive during 2003.
In response, MLB and the MLBPA struck a deal, postponing 2004 testing of those 104 players until the union was able to notify them that they had tested positive. Because those records were now being reviewed by the government, those players could have potentially become vulnerable to federal search warrants relating to ongoing investigations.
Mitchell wrote that between August and September 2004, Manfred pressed Orza to notify the players so that they could be tested, as the program required that each player be tested only once during the 2004 season. By September 2004, all players had been informed.
But one player told Mitchell he received advance notice from Orza that the next round of testing would occur within two weeks. Mitchell could not reveal the player's identity; confessed steroids dealer Kirk Radomski later wrote that the player was David Segui.
Mitchell wrote that other players may have received similar notice. The Mitchell Commission looked into allegations of other players receiving advance notice -- as SI alleges Rodriguez did -- but Mitchell was unable to include additional confirmation.
Rodriguez has been connected to public allegations and speculation on this topic before. Each time, Rodriguez has unequivocally denied having used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance.
"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," Rodriguez told CBS' Katie Couric in December 2007, shortly after the Mitchell Report's release. "I've always been in a very strong, dominant position. And I felt that if I did my work as I've done since I was a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."
Asked in that "60 Minutes" interview if he witnessed steroid use or had suspicions, Rodriguez responded, "You hear a lot of things. I mean, I came up in 1993. And you heard whispers from the '80s and '90s. But I never saw anything. I never had raw evidence. And, quite frankly, I was probably a little bit too naïve when I first came up to understand the magnitude of all this."
In February 2008, Rodriguez raised eyebrows when he said that he was tested "nine or 10 times" in '07. That throwaway remark sent up red flags, and Rodriguez released a statement later that evening, clarifying that he had exaggerated the number of tests to prove a point and wasn't being specific.
Under current drug testing rules, players must be tested at least twice during the season. There are also provisions for random testing -- though it is unlikely Rodriguez would have undergone that many tests, unless he flunked a test for a stimulant. That would have subjected him to six additional unannounced tests over the following year.
A first positive test for a stimulant is not subject to discipline and is not announced. Rodriguez said then that he has never failed a test that would subject him to additional testing.
Jose Canseco's 2008 book, "Vindicated," alleged that Rodriguez had been introduced to a known steroids supplier identified as "Max" in the late 1990s.
"I may not have seen [A-Rod] do the deed, but I set the whole thing up for him, just like he wanted. I saw the changes in his body in a short time. Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself," Canseco said in the book.
SI later identified the dealer as Joseph Dion, a Miami-area trainer. In an interview with the magazine, Dion denied providing steroids to the slugger and said Rodriguez never approved of performance-enhancing drugs. Canseco's motives were clouded when it was revealed Canseco and Rodriguez were at odds over a personal matter.
Rodriguez side-stepped questions on the subject in advance of the book's release, saying that it was "over, as far as I'm concerned," and declining further comment.
This has become yet another tumultuous period for Rodriguez. Last week, excerpts surfaced from Joe Torre's book "The Yankee Years," in which it is revealed people in the clubhouse referred to Rodriguez as "A-Fraud" during the 2004 season and paints him as needy and insecure.
In the ensuing media blitz, several Yankees, including Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Andy Pettitte, voiced public support of Rodriguez as a teammate. The Torre book will now be overshadowed by a darker issue, as Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said on the MLB Network.
"This is going to be relentless," said Bowa, who spent two years with Rodriguez in New York. "Alex lets little things bother him, and this is definitely not a little thing. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. This is going to be weighing on his mind. This is not going to go just one day. ... If he did it, he's got to face the music. But I feel sorry for what's ahead of him."
Rodriguez, 33, is a three-time MVP who has hit 553 career home runs. He is entering the second season of his new 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees -- his sixth in New York overall, following a February 2004 trade from Texas.
Two sources familiar with Rodriguez's contract told SI that there is no included language about steroids that would put Rodriguez at risk of losing money. The mega-deal could pay Rodriguez as much as $305 million if he hits 204 more home runs to surpass Bonds and becomes baseball's all-time home run king.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.