SI: A-Rod Tested Positive for Steroids in 2003

This could be a big story:

In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.

41 comments… add one

  • Questions:
    1. Who are the other 103 players?
    2. Why is Rodriguez being outed and not others?
    Comment:
    This surprises me given his abilities and work ethic. This does not surprise me given his thin-skinned nature.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 7, 2009, 11:13 am
  • I’m really getting sick and tired of people going after ARod…no proof to this story. Innocent until proven guilty? American way?
    I really hope everyone rallies around him this season, enough is enough. Go ARod!!!

    krueg February 7, 2009, 11:33 am
  • Huge story.
    But what could be huger, in the long haul, is that this eliminates any chance whatsoever of a new drug testing policy in the new CBA. If they can’t keep their promises with results being confidential, the players’ union will never, ever agree to anything unless it’s run by someone with absolutely no connection to MLB.
    It’s too bad, but we as fans are going to have to decide what to do with all these players who were on steroids. As more and more names come out, does it lessen the impact? Are we going to forgive Bonds, Clemens, and now A-Rod? Are we going to realize that likely everyone was using performance-enhancing drugs back in the ‘glory years’ of the 70s? Or are we going to draw an arbitrary line in the sand? Of course it’s not up to us who makes the Hall of Fame and who doesn’t, but it is up to us who lives on as a cheater, or if it doesn’t really make a difference after all.

    AndrewYF February 7, 2009, 11:52 am
  • Ugh, I really wish that this story hadn’t come out. I agree with Andrew that the violation of confidentiality here is very serious, partly because this really backs the players union into a corner where they’ll be understandably but unproductively defensive and partly because two of the confirming sources were apparently from the government side, according to the SI.com report.
    This also brings home what we already knew — everybody was doing it. But this really brings it home on a visceral level, since so many people were excited about A-Rod’s possible role as the all-time “clean” HR King.
    Another thing that bothers me about this is that it all but guarantees that one or more of the Red Sox is on that list of 104 players, too. Which, again, on some level I knew must be the case, but this makes uncomfortably plain.
    Sigh.

    stuck working (sf) February 7, 2009, 12:07 pm
  • I just hope that this will lead to Bonds, Clemens and McGuire eventually, deservedly, being inducted into the Hall, upon realization that several, if not many, members of the Hall were on the juice as well. I know there was an argument against McGuire stats-wise, but I just don’t see it. A career .394 OBP and .588 SLG? Who really cares about batting average anymore?

    AndrewYF February 7, 2009, 12:15 pm
  • Who are the other 103 players?
    Yup.
    Why is Rodriguez being outed and not others?
    That’s a rhetorical question, right?

    Rob February 7, 2009, 12:15 pm
  • Here’s A-Rod and his CBS interview with Katie Couric:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVcqLt9sJLs
    I just hope if it ever comes time for him to stand in front of a court, he’ll realize the jig is up and just tell the truth.

    AndrewYF February 7, 2009, 12:18 pm
  • This is seriously getting to the point that these stories are becoming about as important as “A-ROD uses wooden bat to hit baseball”. Can’t we move on?
    In terms of the other names would many Sox fans be surprised to see Sox players? I know I wouldn’t. There is not a single player in the MLB that would surprise me if they had tested positive. It’s par for the course.

    pj-SF February 7, 2009, 12:40 pm
  • It’s par for the course.
    Yup.

    Rob February 7, 2009, 12:51 pm
  • Looking at his career, there’s no smoking gun of the effect. Even if he started using at 24 or 25, it would explain the uptick in power but so would him peaking and moving to the bandbox in Arlington. The patience got much better too, and the power was the best it’s ever been in 2007.
    It’s amazing to me that many players took and the PEDs just didn’t seem to have an effect. The problem is, it did for some folks. And it may have helped them stay healthier.
    Damn, the horse that never dies, despite the flogging.

    Rob February 7, 2009, 12:57 pm
  • From Alex Belth:
    Oh, p.s., Selena Roberts has a book coming out this summer on…Alex Rodriguez. Color me cynical but I guess she’s just put herself on the best seller list.
    She co-authored the piece.
    Still, A-Fraud better get Giambi on the phone and run from hell like Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire. Or he could play the Sosa card, perhaps?

    Rob February 7, 2009, 1:06 pm
  • Wow, I’m actually shocked. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I did really think that A-Rod was clean. As Rob says, there’s no smoking gun in his career – he’s been ridiculous from the day he entered the league. When he said he’d never ‘felt overmatched’ I completely believed that – why would he have?
    It’s true – at this point we really can’t be surprised about anyone, at all, period. I’m hoping that none of my favorites come out as having used steroids – but if they’re there, they will come out. I wouldn’t be too quick to jump up yelling “CONSPIRACY” – if there are major Sox players on the list, we will learn their names.
    I think at this point the only one who would really surprise me – and this is probably the last shred of hero-worshipping “say it ain’t so” feeling in me – is Pedro.
    And yeah, at this point the Hall of Fame voters had better start getting ready to vote in steroid users, because who can we rightfully put above suspicion?
    Andrew: really, there isn’t a good argument against McGwire on stats. He has the fewest ABs per HR in ML history, along with the stats you pointed out. Even with the steroids, it’s mighty impressive.

    Micah-SF February 7, 2009, 1:19 pm
  • This “could” be a big story?
    It will be a titanic story, even if it is proven untrue. In fact, the sports media may not talk about anything else for at least two weeks (esp. with football season over).

    Hudson February 7, 2009, 1:20 pm
  • Dude, I might have been making a slight joke there, Hudson.

    Nick-YF February 7, 2009, 1:25 pm
  • Four sources? Yikes.
    This is a disappointing story, if true. I love watching A-Rod play, and I don’t think it is unfair to say that he’s been held out as an image of the “clean” superstar, even with Canseco’s allegations. This story saddens me, even as I have no naivete left about the game and am not surprised by anyone being tainted.

    SF February 7, 2009, 1:43 pm
  • Impossible to tell from your post, Nick.
    And considering the long history of YF shrugging at these revelations…
    But glad to hear at least one Yankee rooter understands this story will not go away any time soon.
    (On the assumption that this is true, since he hasn’t denied it, ARod should do himself a favor and take the Pettitte approach rather than the Rahjah one. If he can.)

    Hudson February 7, 2009, 1:55 pm
  • “That’s a rhetorical question, right?”
    Yes and no.
    We know the answer, but I’d like someone “official” to say it.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 7, 2009, 1:56 pm
  • Three major league players who spoke to SI said that Rodriguez was also tipped by Orza in early September 2004 that he would be tested later that month. Rodriguez declined to respond on Thursday when asked about the warning Orza provided him.
    When Orza was asked on Friday in the union’s New York City office about the tipping allegations, he told a reporter, “I’m not interested in discussing this information with you.”

    Talk about a buried lede, I think this may be a worse allegation than the “A-Rod tested positive” one.

    SF February 7, 2009, 1:57 pm
  • Also, I don’t really like the guy, but I am disappointed.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 7, 2009, 1:57 pm
  • “Talk about a buried lede, I think this may be a worse allegation than the “A-Rod tested positive” one.”
    Bingo.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 7, 2009, 1:58 pm
  • Look at it this way: think how bad those horrid Rangers teams would have been without juice.

    attackgerbil February 7, 2009, 1:59 pm
  • I wouldn’t be too quick to jump up yelling “CONSPIRACY” – if there are major Sox players on the list, we will learn their names.
    Agreed. I have my own suspicions, and they include players from the 2004 championship team. I have no doubts there were users on that squad. It’s just a matter of time, and why there is just no need (not that anyone has here, yet) to make this into an “us vs. them” scenario. Everyone was doing it.
    Ugh. Just, ugh.

    SF February 7, 2009, 2:02 pm
  • Maybe we should start calling the offense-crazy Ballpark at Arlington the “Juice Box”?
    Badump bump. I’ll be here all ze veek.

    SF February 7, 2009, 2:03 pm
  • Everyone was doing it.
    I have to correct myself here. There were 104 positive tests, via urine, of 1198. So not everyone was doing something that was detectable via urine tests or on the drugs at the time of the tests. It is unfair of me to smear clean players when there was likely a huge majority that didn’t take PEDs. I shouldn’t underplay the violation that A-Rod supposedly made. My bad. Everyone wasn’t doing it, which is what makes this so sad and disappointing.

    SF February 7, 2009, 2:08 pm
  • > Everyone was doing it.
    I know you corrected yourself, but just to be certain, all records since 1999 should be stricken from the books except for those of one. His name is Eckstein, last man standing and the only pure player in the game.
    Kiddin’ of course, but only by half. Speculation: if one thought that grit-love was out of control before, wait until next year when commentators full of suspicion and venom for all the players of the 104 named or hinted really glom on to that which is The Intangibles Of The Eck and similar ballers.

    attackgerbil February 7, 2009, 2:22 pm
  • AG: That’s why it’ll be so, so sweet when News of the World finally runs that video of Eckstein smoking steroids from a bong while urging kids to drop out of school and not do their homework. What will people think then, huh?

    stuck working (sf) February 7, 2009, 2:29 pm
  • To echo past posts, I am disappointed and not surprised. I just hope that the testing has been strict enough since that we can feel comfortable that he has been clean over the last few years. I do find that his name was leaked from a confidential list to be terrible, it doesnt excuse what he did but the incomplete nature of the information makes this feel like a 50s style witch hunt. As much as it will suck, I do look forward to the day a few sox stars names get leaked so the few SFs out there (not all of you guys) who treat this whole topic with an air of moral superiority can cease and desist.
    Also, Ive been stewing all winter over the fact that the NFL gets away with steroid issues like they are nothing while its national news each time a baseball player tests positive. Oh well. Can we start playing baseball now please?

    sam-YF February 7, 2009, 2:31 pm
  • I’m sure this has been covered before, but what’s the difference, cheating-wise, between taking steroids and using pine-tar, scuffing the ball, etc?
    I think it was Whitey Ford (if it wasn’t, it was someone) who openly admitted to scuffing the ball when he pitched. Why doesn’t he have the ‘cheater’ label applied?
    Cheating is always bad. But I think there is a major disconnect in people’s minds between cheating with steroids and cheating, say, the way Kenny Rogers did when he had that stuff on his hands. What’s the difference?

    AndrewYF February 7, 2009, 2:37 pm
  • That’s a question you will never get an answer to, Andrew. Eye of the beholder and all that.
    I think there’s a difference between someone taking drugs to alter their body and someone scuffing a ball. The idea being that if an umpire can see evidence of scuffing they can instantly ask a pitcher to show what they are carrying, or if they measure the pine tar on a bat they can toss a player then and there, whereas with PEDs the ump can’t, you know, take a piss test from a player, fire up a centrifuge and toss a player out if the results aren’t right. So though both are, as you say, “cheating”, there are differences in both the practices and the optics of the differing violations.

    SF February 7, 2009, 3:08 pm
  • 1) Ugh. Man!
    2) 70+ Million dollars in federal investigation money.
    3) Federal leaks of Federal Cases
    4) The judge had just intimated that he would not allow the tests to be entered into evidence in the Bond’s trial.
    5) The voracity of the tests are really a big question.
    6) Sources with no names (I know it’s a federal offense and all…)
    7) This is going to really take up alot of important news space. As it has been the headline of CNN all the live long day. (Stimulus package????)
    8) Bummer.

    walein February 7, 2009, 3:41 pm
  • As a sort of cultural aside:
    The real issue with Steroids seems to be the “drug taking” part of the equation–syringes, black bags, shady and sweaty and balding and pimpled characters in gym bathroom stalls.
    However, games like “Gears of War” sort of propose a future where men who are used for their physique are “juiced up” to a comical degree. I don’t think it’s far off to say that maybe a generation down the road or so, people will not have the stigma against these players that we have now.
    Just a thought.

    walein February 7, 2009, 3:47 pm
  • Fenix Rodriguez, defender of humanity from the Locust Horde.
    “You just spattered blood on my Armani. For this, you shall die.”

    attackgerbil February 7, 2009, 4:01 pm
  • Wow. Bad weekend to be almost completely off the Internet.
    I, for one, am surprised, mostly because of exactly what Rob pointed out — A-Rod’s career does not have the Bonds/McGwire/Clemens arc (monster success, followed by injury, followed by late-career monster success). Which probably just goes to the fact that the current generation of steroid users has been doing them probably since high school or college, so of course would not gain any noticeable bump from beginning to use them mid-career.
    On a professional level, this is obviously a huge story, and SI.com deserves a lot of credit not only for breaking such a phenomenally huge story, but for doing it right — getting the four independent confirmations. Also, I agree with SF. The fact that union reps are tipping off players about upcoming drug tests is equally huge, if not moreso, and it likely nullifies any room for complaint the union would otherwise have had about these tests being leaked to the public.
    Is Jose Canseco really the baseball world’s most trustworthy voice on steroids? Is that what this has come to?
    I disagree that “everyone was doing it,” but obviously someone in every clubhouse was doing it, and I hold no misconceptions that the Red Sox were somehow the only clean team in baseball. The only player about whom I’d be surprised if he turned up with a positive test is David Ortiz, only because he has spoken very frankly about the topic, including his decision to discontinue using a Dominican product he feared might have contained a steroid.
    Most maddening about this, however, is the focus placed on baseball when these revelations surface. As a newsman, I don’t object to the story itself — let the facts come out, and the people will decide their importance and relevance — but the fact that the sports commentariat scream about top baseball players but barely grimace when a top football star is discovered to be juicing is just a huge double standard and gives the false impression that steroids is a problem in baseball but not in football, when in fact it is a larger problem in football. I imagine it goes to the expectations for the respective sports — baseball as the game of skill and some measure of grace, football as the game of brutality and mass entertainment — but it doesn’t make the characterizations any less unfair.
    As for A-Rod himself, I think this seriously jeopardizes his HOF chances, at least until the list of suspected users grows so long the 75 percent of sportswriters who deem themselves judges of who used cannot help but induct SOMEbody into the Hall of Fame. Are they really prepared to keep out Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez, as well as the likely list just as long and impressive of players we don’t yet know were users but who will be outed between now and their first years of eligibility?
    All that boils down to this: It’s another bad day for baseball.

    Paul SF February 7, 2009, 4:45 pm
  • Paul, that’s an excellent post and I agree with most everything you said, except I’m not surprised that ARod juiced. I’m really curious how many people are out there that think along the lines that I have for some years now in that I Just Don’t Care. At all.

    attackgerbil February 7, 2009, 5:31 pm
  • “I’m really curious how many people are out there that think along the lines that I have for some years now in that I Just Don’t Care. At all.”
    Im with you ag. I only care how this is gonna effect this years team and specifically his performance. Im so totally sick of steroid stories at this point. Ive assumed for a while that any single player could have used PEDs, star or scrub.

    sam-YF February 7, 2009, 5:52 pm
  • Ive assumed for a while that any single player could have used PEDs, star or scrub.
    Then why did nine out of ten test negative? Were that many players so good at falsifying their results? This is beyond cynical. Empiricism tells us that that most players didn’t do steroids, but now we are so conditioned to think the opposite, hence my earlier “everyone did it” comment. Not everyone did it. In fact, science tells us that nearly everyone didn’t do it.

    SF February 7, 2009, 11:08 pm
  • We basically see two levels of users, based on the names that have been released or leaked.
    One is the superstar who, through reasons we will never understand because we have neither the drive nor the ego of a multimillionaire sports star, decides his career needs that one extra boost. (Clemens, Bonds, A-Rod?, Palmeiro, etc.) These are guys who would have been great without the juice — WERE great without the juice, in at least Clemens’ and Bonds’ cases — but did it anyway.
    The other is the fringe players who livelihoods actually hinged on whether they made the big leagues — the Manny Amexanders, the Paxton Crawfords. This makes eminently more sense, though it’s obviously no less wrong.
    Of course, there’s playrs of all skill sets and talet levels who juiced, but most seem to be in these categories. There’s actually a third set — injured players tricked by money-hungry doctors into getting HGH even though it appears to have no real effects — and we could keep breaking them down further and further.
    The fact is the vast majority of ballplayers did not use — either through personal integrity, lack of funds, fear of needles, fear of the side effects or any other number of reasons both honorable and not. “Everyone used” is simply not a legitimate argument, even if it were true. After all, sometimes your mother is right: Even if everyone else is doing it, should you do it, too?

    Paul SF February 7, 2009, 11:29 pm
  • > Even if everyone else is doing it, should you do it, too?
    Rob Neyer answers that question better than I, or anybody else I’ve read so far, can.

    attackgerbil February 8, 2009, 3:06 am
  • Which probably just goes to the fact that the current generation of steroid users has been doing them probably since high school or college, so of course would not gain any noticeable bump from beginning to use them mid-career.
    Here’s the thing though: A-Rod had his best year statistically in 2007. So unless he’s still using, which I think is highly doubtful given the advances in modern testing, it’s just hard to say how long and how much these players were partaking.
    I agree that not everyone was doing it. And while I would place the number higher than those caught in 2003, even if we double it that’s still only 20% of players. A significant portion to be sure, but far less than a majority. Problem is, which 20%?
    Depending on how Alex handles this, he still has plenty of time to repair his HOF chances. He basically just has to keep putting up huge numbers – like 2007 – and if he were smart he’d use his clout to push for a much more restrictive testing program based on long-term blood samples. He has a chance to redeem himself in a way that McGwire/Bonds/Clemens never did – by playing for another eight years. If he starts out with a press conference honestly and credibly explaining what happened, he helps his chances even more. I’m holding my breath, but there’s a chance he could finally get wise.

    Rob February 8, 2009, 10:52 am
  • “Then why did nine out of ten test negative? Were that many players so good at falsifying their results? This is beyond cynical. ”
    SF, I think you’ve misunderstood what I was saying. Im not saying that all or even more than 20% of MLB players were users, all I am saying is that at this point I am in no way surprised to hear any single name linked to PEDs. In my mind it is possible that any player in the MLB during the late 90s and early 2000s COULD have been a user. Many were not users but the prevalence of use during this time raises the possibility that anyone could have been part of the 20%…

    sam-YF February 8, 2009, 11:23 am
  • time to grow up i guess….when i was a little kid, i worshiped micky mantle as a hero…my first baseball glove was a signed mantle glove [no, not a real signature], which included a signed 8×10 colored glossy of the mick, which i still have today…in later years i started hearing the rumors about the drinking…that tore my heart out…heroes are supposed to be infallible…but, the sad reality is that our heroes are not flawless…you know paul and gerb, i can’t believe i’m saying this, but i wouldn’t be surprised if ortiz was on the list of 103 nameless offenders…he fits the profile, but i hope he isn’t on the list…of all the sox players, he’s my favorite [or maybe it’s a tie with wake], as i’ve said before…i’m sick…i’m starting to hate baseball…and it’s been my favorite sport since i was old enough to remember….ugh

    dc February 8, 2009, 8:52 pm

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