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02/09/09 10:51 PM EST

Obama weighs in on A-Rod

WASHINGTON -- A few hours after Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids, President Barack Obama weighed in during his first prime-time press conference on Monday.

Asked by Michael Fletcher of the Washington Post to comment, Obama called the news "depressing" and wondered what kind of message Rodriguez was sending to kids.

"... If you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it -- it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree. And it's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight," President Obama said. "And, you know, the thing I'm probably most concerned about is the message it sends to our kids.

"What I'm pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big a problem this is for the sport, and that our kids hopefully are watching and saying, 'You know what? There are no short cuts, that when you try to take short cuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity's not worth it.' That's the message I hope is communicated."

The Rodriguez controversy started on Saturday morning, when Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that Rodriguez tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan in 2003, when he was with the Rangers.

Two days later, Rodriguez told ESPN's Peter Gammons that he experimented with steroids from 2001-03, wanting to prove to people he was worthy of a $252 million contract he signed with Texas.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.