02/17/09 9:03 PM EST
Transcript of A-Rod's news conference
By / MLB.com
"I know that I am in a position where I have to earn my trust back. And over time, I am confident that, at the end of my career, people will see this for what it is -- a stupid mistake and a lesson learned for a guy with a lot of baseball to play. Last Monday, I began the first step of the process of earning back trust when I sat down for an interview with Peter Gammons. I did so to accomplish two things: To tell the truth and to apologize to my teammates and baseball fans everywhere. Now, the next step is to address the media about what I took and where it came from. On reflection, here's what I remember:"As I discussed with Peter Gammons, in the years 2001, '02 and '03, I experimented with a banned substance that eventually triggered a positive test. "In September of 2004, I had a meeting with Gene Orza. During that meeting, he explained to me that I had been among the players from which people might conclude that I had tested positive. That's as specific as Gene could be. Because Gene stated to me that there were a number of players on that list who might not have actually tested positive. I think it is important to note that the tests that were taken in '03 were requested and voted by players to determine the extent of a drug problem in Major League Baseball. "Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that you could purchased over the counter in the DR [Dominican Republic]. In the streets, it's known as 'boli' or 'bole.' It was his understanding that it would give me a dramatic energy boost and [was] otherwise harmless. My cousin and I, one more ignorant than the other, decided it was a good idea to start taking it. My cousin would administer it to me, but neither of us knew how to use it properly, providing just how ignorant we both were. It was at this point we decided to take it twice a month for about six months. During the '01, '02 and '03 seasons, we consulted no one and had no good reason to base that decision. It was pretty evident we didn't know what we were doing. We did everything we could to keep it between us, and my cousin did not provide any other players with it. I stopped taking it in '03 and haven't taken it since. "I stopped taking it for several reasons: In 2003, I had a serious neck injury and it scared me half to death. I was scared for my career and truly my career after baseball -- my life out of baseball. Secondly, after our voluntary test, all the players voted for a Major League Drug Policy. At that time it became evident to me how serious this all was. And I decided to stop then. Since that time, I've been tested regularly. I've taken urine tests consistent with Major League Baseball and blood tests for the World Baseball Classic. Before walking in here today, I took a test as part of my physical, and I will take another blood test next week for the Classic. "In the days ahead, know that a lot of people are going to debate my past with various opinions. People are going to talk about my future, as though it's already been determined. However, I realize that these opinions are out of my control. What is in my control is going out and doing the job that I've been blessed to do. Spring Training represents a new start for me and a chance to win a championship -- two opportunities I am very excited about. It isn't lost on me the good fortune I've received from playing baseball. When I entered the pros, I was a young kid in the Major Leagues. I was 18 years old, right out of high school. I thought I knew everything and I clearly didn't. Like everyone else, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward. One thing I know for sure is that baseball is a lot bigger than Alex Rodriguez. And to my teammates -- thank you." Alex, if your name was never revealed in the Sports Illustrated report, would you have come out on your own volition? "I haven't thought about that much. The fact is it came out and I am here to share my story, put it out there and hopefully I can put this behind me and my teammates don't have to carry the burden of answering all the questions for me." Alex, you talked about the pressure of being the highest-paid player in baseball in Texas as one of the reasons for using performance-enhancing drugs. When you came to New York in 2004, a pretty tough place to play, you discontinued the use. Can you talk about why? "Well, I think I was curious. Like I said in Peter's interview, I was young. I was 24, 25 years old. I keep going back to -- I entered the game when I was 18. For a lot of people, if I had a son I would definitely recommend going to college and having an opportunity to grow up. And I didn't. I felt like I said in my statement that after I had my neck injury and after I realized MLB was implementing tests that this was serious business. It was time to grow up. Since, I've realized that I didn't need any of it. I've played the best baseball in my career in and had my best year of all-time in '07. I'm glad it's past me and I look forward to playing more baseball." Alex, you said you took the substance for three years. What was the benefit of taking of it and when you stopped taking it, did you notice any difference when you did stop? "I'm not sure what the benefit was. I will say this: When you take any substance or anything, especially in baseball, it's half mental and half physical. If you take this glass of water and you say I'm going to be a better baseball player, if you believe it, you probably will be. So, I certainly felt more energy, but it's hard to say. Hard to say." Alex, when you took these substances was it in pill form or were you actually injected? "Injected." Alex, since this came out about a week and a half ago, a lot of people have talked about this being cheating. Do you consider this cheating? "That's not for me to determine. I'm here to say that I'm sorry. I'm here to say that in some ways I wish I went to college and had an opportunity to grow up at my own pace. You know, I guess when you are young and stupid, you are young and stupid. And I'm very guilty of both those." Alex, you've obviously had a lot of support from your teammates, but some ex-teammates [such as] Jamie Moyer have come out with some pretty strong statements about your credibility and whatnot. Do you feel like you have a lot to repair in that sense, and what do you make of those particular comments from Jamie Moyer? "Do you want to read Jamie Moyer's comments? I'm not aware of what exactly he said." Well, he talked about why would we believe what he has to say and that his credibility has been seriously damaged, and why would anybody vote for the Hall of Fame for a player who has admitted to using steroids. "I mean, I'm sorry Jamie feels that way, and he's definitely entitled to his opinion. And the baseball world and all the fans we have, I understand their doubt. I understand their concerns. And there's certain things I can't control and there are certain things I could control. I'm going to focus on what I can do and move forward." Alex, what's your cousin's name and who transported the substance from the Dominican to the United States? "What was the second part, George?" Who transported the substance from the Dominican to the United States? "Same person. I'd rather not get into who my cousin is. I'm here to stand front and center and take the blame because I am responsible for this. He basically took an instruction from me and felt he was doing something that was going to be helpful, not hurtful. So, George, I really don't think his name is relevant at this point, his name." You touched on the fact that some people might refer to this as cheating. How do you address parents now that have to talk to their kids about the fact that you profited from this? "Well, I think, the first [thing] that I say to parents is I'm sorry. And I feel like this happened for much bigger reasons than baseball. And I think God has put me in a position, a forum, where I can be heard and my voice can be heard. And I hope that kids would not make the same mistake that I made. I hope to join Don Hooton, who has done some incredible things, who's sitting right over here. His son passed away because of steroid abuse. I know this isn't the time or the forum to talk about what I intend or plan to do, but I do plan to and I've had several conversations with Don to join forces with him and Major League Baseball to basically [send] an anti-steroid message to kids all over the country." Just to be clear, did you know the stuff you were getting from the Dominican was steroids, and, if so, did you consider the consequences at the time? "I didn't think they were steroids at the time. Again, that's part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter, it was pretty basic and it was really amateur hour. It was two guys, we couldn't go outside, who couldn't ask anyone, didn't want to ask anyone. We went outside team doctors, team trainers. It was two guys doing a very amateur and immature thing. We probably didn't even take it right. Like I said in my statement, we used to do it about two times a month. I don't even know if that is proper. So when this gentleman asked me about how it affected us -- I'm not sure we even did it right to affect us in the right way. All these years, I never thought I did anything that was wrong. Perhaps, but not wrong. And come to find out bole triggered a positive test in 2003." As someone who monitors everything they put in their body, how could you have not done more research or been more conscientious about what you were taking? "I wish I knew, I was 24, I was 25. I was pretty naive and pretty young. Initially, I was curious because he mentioned it a few times, and I just gave it a try." The home run record is something that's obviously going to come up in future years here, and obviously it was something important to you and the Yankees -- so much that there are $30 million in incentives in your contract as you approach it. Do you feel your home run record will be tainted, that any of your home runs are tainted and should you get that money if you get to that point? "I mean, look, I'm trying to get by today. It's been a difficult several weeks and it's been very painful for me and my family. I'm here to take my medicine. As far as anything that has to do with today or the past, it's really hard to get myself in that mind frame. I'm sure there will be a lot of debates and there will be a lot of questions about everything I did in that period." Do you feel like you're going to have to talk to your teammates and rebuild your credibility with your teammates given that you had denied using steroids, you know, or performance-enhancing drugs in other interviews? "Not only with my teammates. I mean, look, at the end of the day, these 25 guys are family and I really hope through this crisis that we are going to become so close, closer than ever, and I think that's going to happen. But I owe an apology not only to my teammates, the entire organization but every fan all over the world that is a fan of baseball. I mean, yeah, all of the above." Did you ever experiment with anything else over the course of your career, such as human growth hormone or amphetamines? "No on the human growth hormone. What I used to take a lot, especially in the Seattle days, was something called 'Ripped Fuel.' Since it has been banned since MLB, I believe, and also has been removed from shelves at GNC. I used to dabble with that." You were caught up with emotion earlier when you wanted to address your teammates. As you've gathered yourself a bit, can you tell us what you had to say to your teammates? "Thank you for the opportunity. For the guys, I thank you for being here. Like I said earlier, this has been a very difficult two weeks and a difficult day to try to get through. And without you guys it would have been impossible. So, I thank you and I love you and I look forward to putting this day behind us and having an amazing season. Because it will be the best season of our lives." Alex, you mentioned earlier that you didn't think at the time that what you and your cousin were doing was wrong. But if you didn't think it was wrong, why where you so secretive and so reluctant to ask for assistance for what you were doing? "That's a good question. I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs. I knew that it was something potentially that perhaps was wrong. I really didn't get into the investigation, perhaps like I would've. I wouldn't imagine thinking of doing something like that today, obviously. It's a different world, a different culture. But again, when you are 24, 25 and you're curious and you're ignorant, there are a lot of things, you don't tell a lot of people, not just that. You don't want to share everything you do with the public or whatnot. And that was just one of those things that I decided to not really share with anyone." Roy Oswalt, a fellow player and fellow union member, said last week in an interview that, 'A-Rod's numbers shouldn't count for anything. I feel like he cheated me out of the game.' I wonder if you think if his position has any validity, and is his apparent anger warranted? "Well again, I'm sorry Roy feels that way. Look, everyone has their opinions and their beliefs. And I'm sorry he feels that way." You made some serious allegations against Selena Roberts in your interview with Peter Gammons. Do you stand by those and is it accurate that you spoke with Selena Roberts since that interview? "Yes, it is [accurate that I talked to her]. I actually reached out to Selena last week and we had a very good conversation. After talking to the Miami Beach police, they wrote a police report that I thought was a citation. So it was definitely a misunderstanding of the facts. I reached out to her and it went well. And we both decided to put it behind us." Alex, because of your status in the game and how you keep saying you want people to forget about this and forgive you, have you given any consideration to submitting to even more testing than players normally get? To say, 'Test me every week, test me twice a month, I'm that anxious to prove that what I'm doing now, I'm clean.' "My style is not to challenge anything. I think the system in place is really good. I think MLB has made some incredible strides, and I think it's a different game today than it was 10 or 15 years ago or even seven years ago. I think numbers across the board prove that. I will say 2006 was a blood test and next week is another blood test. If I'm not correct, I believe the WBC [World Baseball Classic] is a blood test. Check on that. I'm checking facts now because that's what I think it is next week. That's as good as it gets." Alex, you talked about in Texas it being kind of a loosey-goosey atmosphere. Did you see other players taking steroids or people talking about taking some of type of performance-enhancing drugs, and, if so, what? "I meant by that statement that overall it was a different culture, it was a different situation. There weren't as many questions asked. Any product today that is presented to you, the first thing you do is you send it to your team trainer and he will fax it back or to the union. Those types of procedures I don't think occurred back then. I didn't practice that, obviously. But my mistake has nothing to do with where I played. My mistake came because I was immature and I was stupid. It wasn't because the Rangers or anything to do with Texas. I blame myself. Look for a week here, I have been looking for people to blame and I keep looking at myself at the end of the day. I never saw any other player do it. And I really didn't get involved in any other conversations or heard anything. This is about me and I'm the one that screwed up, no one else." Alex, if I understand the story you are telling today, it's that you didn't know what it did, you weren't sure you were administering it right and you're not sure if what the effects were or if it would have a positive effect. But you said you took twice a month for three years. Basic math would make that 36 times. Why would someone inject something into their system 36 times, who is a professional athlete and wants a long career if you don't know what it is, if you were doing it right? I just wonder if you could explain that? "Instead of saying, in general, I tried to put the usage in a box for you. Sometimes it was once a month, [then] it maybe [was] three times a month. I want to clarify that. You're asking me why I would do that? Again, it goes back to being young and being curious. When it started it was probably in the middle of 2001 and [when it] ended it was '03. And I realized, thank God that I realized, after my neck injury that I was being silly and irresponsible. And I decided to stop. And I was a young guy." Last week, a USA Today Gallup Poll [found] 46 percent of their respondents said that they didn't believe you just took steroids from 2001 to '03, they believe you took it other times. I wonder what you think that says about you, and secondly, last week Commissioner [Bud] Selig said you 'shamed the game,' so I was wondering if you agree? "I certainly made a mistake and I feel poorly for that. I know the Commissioner has his position and I respect Bud [Selig] a lot. And I feel poorly for what I did. As far as other allegations, people are always going to say things. When I was a junior in high school, I bench-pressed 310 pounds, today I probably bench-press 240 or 250. You know, funny enough, I did it because I played football and I was a quarterback and the big challenge was if you bench-pressed 300 pounds you get to get this lettermen's jacket with white sleeves. I was poor and I thought what a great way to get a free jacket. I got up to 300 pounds, up to 310 pounds bench press, and some of these guys know me, I played with some of these guys, and there will attest for that. The best year of my career came when I was 19-20 years old in Seattle, and my other best year was in '07, just a year and a half ago, two years ago. So I hope that after, when my career is over, the evidence falls in my favor, but if it doesn't I also understand that, too." Alex, I'm just curious last week when you had your interview with Peter Gammons, why you didn't disclose how you started using this drug with your cousin, this was an interview you arranged and yet you didn't tell him about it. You're only revealing it now. "Good question. The thing is when a reporter came into the gym, maybe 38 hours before, maybe 48 hours before, I thought it was important to come out and get the truth out there early and be forthright. As far as all the details, I didn't want to speak from a position of non-factual. I felt I was putting myself out there already with saying the truth. And over the last nine days, I've sat down with my cousin and we've had several conversations -- here are the facts, nine days later. I wasn't prepared to say that when I sat down with Peter. Because I really didn't remember, it was a long, long time ago. Alex, [a] little over a year ago in a 60 Minutes interview you said you had never taken anything. Last week in an ESPN interview, you said what you said, and now you're clarifying it even more, telling us even more. Progressively, the stories have been different. What assurances can you give us that everything you're saying today is the whole truth and there's not going to be something more that's going to come out that you're going to have answer for several months or years from now? "Look, I may have to answer them for the rest of my career, that's the position I've put myself in. As far as Katie [Couric], I reached out her about 10 days ago. Look, when you are in denial and you're not being honest with yourself it's hard to be honest with Katie. That was a part of me. Like when I answered John's question earlier, I thought since I hadn't heard about it for five years that there was a chance it was OK. There was a lot of that stuff going on, and I am here to say my story and this [is] it." Alex, describe the first time you were injected -- where you were, did you have any doubts at the last minute, where you without doubt, did the injection hurt afterward, the next day or two did you feel anything, did you have any regrets? "At the time I had no regrets. I just, it was injected, to what degree it helped I'm not sure. I hope that answers your question." 2001, '02, '03, should your stats and everything you accomplished during that period of time still count or is it appropriate to explore wiping those numbers and accomplishments from your record? "That's not for me to decide. The one thing that I can lay my pillow at night is I entered this game when I was 18. I had my best year when I was 20 and then I had my other best year when I was in 2007. That foul pole to foul pole is pretty good. I understand the questions and the doubt. I laid my bed and I'm going to have to sit on it. I'm here to take my medicine. The one thing I will say is after today, I hope I can put this behind me and start focusing on baseball. We have a very special team here. For me personally, I'm going to be honest with you, the last 15 months have been very, very tough. I've been through divorce, I've been through tabloids, you name it. I miss playing baseball and I miss simply being a baseball player. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for me to look in the mirror and be a better teammate to my guys over there. Be a better player to my fans, a better human being and start hooking up with Don and start making the world a better place. I think that's my opportunity. I screwed up big time. But I think the only thing I ask from this group today and the American people is to judge me from this day forward. That's all I can ask for."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.