A-Rod did Steroids

This is somewhat huge:

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.

Rodriguez’s name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball’s ’03 survey testing, SI’s sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.

When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. “You’ll have to talk to the union,” said Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, “I’m not saying anything.”

Instant takeways:

  • It was always silly to play the “this guy was juicing, this guy was not” game, but now it is downright absurd, because anyone who comes out now and says that they thought A-Rod was doing steroids is lying. Well, except for Jose Canseco, who I once again must note has a better track record for accuracy on this subject than anyone. How nice it would have been if he wasn’t such a scumbag with respect to everything else.
  • It was always silly to play the “this guy would have utterly sucked if he weren’t juicing” game but now that too is downright absurd, because A-Rod clearly didn’t suck before steroids, and clearly doesn’t suck now, assuming of course he’s clean.
  • It was always silly to believe that the Mitchell Report brought any closure or finality to the steroid discussion, but now that is downright absurd.
  • Given that it is now inevitable that all of the names who tested positive in 2003 will come out, maybe it’s in the union’s best interest to release every name now rather than deal with the drip, drip, dripping of names over time. Pull the band-aid off quickly, if you will. I know most players would never go for it, but we’re getting into a situation where guys are going to be unduly pilloried as cheating freaks while other guys go scot free. A-Rod is going to take it on the chin major in the coming days and weeks. Doesn’t fairness and historical accuracy and all of that demand that we know who else tested positive in 2003?
  • I’ll grant that many of those points are colored by my own interest and may not all be what the players and the union and the league would like. But like they say, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Let’s do what the Mitchell Report didn’t do and completely clear the decks on this. All names from 2003 out now. Let’s end the parlor games and character assassination and get on with the business of fact-telling and the accurate chronicling of history.

    UPDATE: Here is my latest — and more comprehensive — take on all of this business.

    (thanks to The Common Man for the heads up)


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    Anthony
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    Anthony

    Agree with most points, except that how do we know when arod started juicing?  maybe in high school while growing up in miami? Obviously he has the means to afford a higher class of pharmaceuticals today but since he has clearly lied about this in the past he has no credibility.

    Grant
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    Grant

    I’m really tired of this. I just want to watch baseball. And Jose Canseco having credibility is bad for America.

    I have always been an A-Rod defender, which is tough as an Orioles fan. It’s going to be really hard living in New York and having to even look at the Post for the next few weeks. I really hope the man has a great year for the sake of my sanity. Otherwise it’s going to get brutal.

    I know he brings it on himself. But still.

    The Common Man
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    The Common Man
    “Let’s end the parlor games and character assassination and get on with the business of fact-telling and the accurate chronicling of history.” I agree whole-heartedly, but mostly because I don’t want to spend the next the next year thinking about the drip-drip-drip.  I’d rather spend the next year talking about the ways baseball is addressing the problem than talking about who did what.  It’s not as sexy a story, but it’s a better one. Getting all the names out now is also a great way for the players to do what baseball did with the Mitchell Report:  take control of… Read more »
    Devon Young
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    Devon Young

    When’s before steroids for A-Rod? We only know about ‘03, but don’t know anything before that (yet). Besides, pre-steroid Clemens was great…but the ‘roids seem to have elongated his peak years. How do we know that A-Rod wouldn’t have started to slow down? Steroids may be elongating his peak years. That’s what I want to know about. To me, that’s important.

    Scott
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    Scott

    My memory of this is kinda hazy, but the 2003 tests were supposed to be anonymous, weren’t they? I thought they were intended to judge the scope of steroid use, not to scrutinize individual changes. There was supposed to be no way to link samples to individual players.

    What does this do to the relationship between players and the league? If I’ve correctly remembered the details, it looks like MLB broke some important promises to their players. Is this going to make it more difficult to implement effective PED prevention in MLB?

    Scott
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    Scott

    Individual PLAYERS, not “individual changes”. My kingdom for an edit button.

    mkd
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    mkd

    I know everyone is suspect and steroids permeated (permeate?) the whole league, but every player who ever played for the Astros/Rangers should be looked at twice. When the steroid era wants to unwind after a long day, it heads home to Texas.

    Bill B.
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    Bill B.

    Craig, how much legal action can A-Rod take since the government abused its power here by publicizing anonymous tests? Also, they only were supposed to have access to ten BALCO-linked players but obviously got access to them all.

    Chipmaker
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    Chipmaker
    Nice thought, but we still haven’t seen the 1997 expansion draft protected lists, and there’s nil reason not to release those by now. But you are right that the union could grab the reins if it releases the list. And right there would go almost any chance at a Pulitzer. It’d be ugly, but baseball has weathered worse. IIRC the 2003 testing was comprehensive, everyone on a major league roster, and the 104 positives was enough (more than 5%) to trigger the ongoing testing as of 2004. So the names NOT on the list would be just as interesting, since… Read more »
    Sara K
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    Sara K

    So did SI only get a tip about ARod and nobody else?  No doubt his is the biggest name on the list, but I’m with CC in my annoyance with the narrowness of this “revelation.” 

    On a side note, the talking heads on the MLBN are doing a bunch of tut-tutting, and the most substantive remarks are coming from Harold Reynolds.

    lar
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    lar
    What’s your take, Craig, on the leaking of this information, especially considering that it didn’t happen until after the FBI raided the facility? I mean, that list was kept under lock and key at the testing facility with nary a hint at who was on it for five years. But only weeks after the FBI raids it and gets the list for itself, four “independent” sources are telling SI who’s on it? It seems fishy, to say the very least. it also seems illegal, immoral, and, to the players’ association at least, absolutely infuriating. Any thoughts on how the PA… Read more »
    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms
    I commented here last week that the crap would hit the fan again as the names from the “anonymous” testing were revealed, didn’t know it would be this soon. The players got royally screwed on this “anonymous” testing but it’s not the fault of the owners, it’s the feds who are leaking it.  Even if the courts rule that the feds can’t use the results, the names will and are being leaked anyway. I think what is interesting about the “anonymous” testing is the percentage of positive tests.  I had previously thought it was between 5 and 7 % but… Read more »
    Bill B.
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    Bill B.

    “that list was kept under lock and key at the testing facility with nary a hint at who was on it for five years.”

    lar, if I heard TJ Quinn correctly on ESPN this morning, he said that the list was kept in another state, and there were codes on the samples that corresponded with the codes and player names on the list.

    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms

    Will the scrutiny send A Rod over the edge?  Will it impact negatively on his performance?  I don’t follow the A Rod soap opera very closely but I get the impression that he is portrayed as being very sensitive about how he is perceived….this sure ain’t gonna help.

    Preston
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    Preston
    I’m with Scott and Bill on this – is there any legal recourse when legally or contractually confidential information is released like this?  I feel like it drives deeper wedges between the union and MLB at an already tense time.  On a broader level, for me it degrades our justice system – the people employed in the judicial system aren’t trustworthy enough to keep something like Barry Bonds’ sealed testimony from leaking?  If we can’t keep the names of important informants from the press (e.g. the guy the Smoking Gun just wrote a lengthy article about), doesn’t it make it… Read more »
    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms

    To protect the “anonymity” of the players tesing postive, the urine tests and the data that contained the identity of the players were conducted by separate companies.  The feds raided both, they had to link the barcodes on the pee samples with the identity of the players in the database.  The feds maintain that in order to acquire the positive results of the 10 players they were investigating they had to take the entire database, they couldn’t take just the 10 identities.

    MC
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    MC

    “but every player who ever played for the Astros/Rangers should be looked at twice”

    Since Nolan Ryan started it all.  Just saying.

    Lesson here is that everyone who was dedicated to weight training in the 90s early 2000s (which is practically everyone who was a good player) did steroids – caught or not.

    http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1012317/index.htm

    Sara K
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    Sara K

    Costas is interviewing the SI reporter who broke the story.  He asks her if, in addition to being a violation of their rights as players, the handling of the non-Balco players’ tests also constitutes a violation of their rights as Americans.  The reporter agrees that, yes, it is an issue and that the players’ union is right to be appealing the handling of that information.  But SI is profitting from this situation, and that’s just fine?  I guess I’m missing something…

    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms

    @ MC;  Correct.  Where you have serious weight training you have steroids (aka supplements).

    Manfred has released an official statement and if I interpret it correctly there is a veiled threat there towards Orza.

    bigcatasroma
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    bigcatasroma

    Major takeaway—whether we like it or not—is that whatever Canseco has said in that book (or all his books?), whether for the right reasons or not, should actually now be presumed true unless shown otherwise . . .

    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms

    @ bigcat – Yes, Canseco is a buffoon but that doesn’t mean he was lying.  In fact, knowing that MLB was done with him (no way he was gonna become a coach) gave him the freedom to tell the truth.

    matt
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    matt
    The revelation that an MLB player used steroids is about as shocking as the revelation that a 23-year-old American smoked marijuana.  I’m not going to say I was convinced A-Rod used steroids, but every time someone talked about how he was “clean,” I would ask, “How do you know?” Sooner or later people will realize that you cannot definitively say, “This player has never used steroids.” I hate the channel Mark McGwire, but let’s stop talking about the past.  Ok, A-Rod did what hundreds of other players did.  There’s nothing we can do about it now.  While he seems like… Read more »
    VanderBirch
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    VanderBirch
    Pete, Yeah, 8.5% is low but that number would be highly dependent on the quality of the testing procedure. I’d say you can assume a significant number more were taking drugs but weren’t positive at the point they where tested (having used drugs during the offseason but not the season). Moreover, plenty of drugs wouldn’t have shown up (a la Bonds) in the testing process and there are rumors floating around that players knew in advance they would be tested. This would have allowed them to quit using for a short period or use a masking agent, significantly reducing the… Read more »
    GregE
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    GregE

    Sooner or later people will realize that you cannot definitively say, “This player has never used steroids.”

    I’m going to go ahead and say this isn’t true by definitively saying that Jason Tyner has never used steroids. Tyner with his 1 career homerun including high school and probably little league and his .323 career major league slugging percentage. He either never used steriods or he was doing it wrong.

    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms
    @ Vander.  YOu and I are on the same page.  When you speak of masking and cycling ( my term, not yours but same point ) it is the same as me speaking of the cheaters staying ahead of the regulators. As for players being tipped, this is an aspect of the story that is gonna get a lot more play now.  GM reported that the PA ( Orza ) had tipped a player that they had tested positive but didn’t name the player.  Manfred’s statement today alludes to that ( I think ) and the media is reporting that… Read more »
    Chris Simonds
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    Chris Simonds

    I appreciate the fact that the players, as a group, are having their trust in certain agreements violated, but on an individual level – picture a player – maybe A-Rod, knowing he juiced (if he did) like a lot of others did, just sitting silent and smug for years while Bonds and Clemens and other fellow union members are hung out to dry, as if they were the only bad guys. What kind of men are these? Men without integrity or conscience, apparently. Not men at all.

    Ron
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    Ron

    Can we just take a cue from Grant (2nd poster) and just concentrate on the game on the field.

    Spring training starts in 10 days. I don’t care about contracts, steroids, collusion, stadium financing, naming rights or any of that.

    I’m just jonesing for baseball. The game on the field.

    Like Buffalo Springfield so adroitly sang, “Nobodys right when everybody’s wrong”.

    Since everybody is wrong, can’t we just play baseball.

    Andrew
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    Andrew

    Something else to take away:  Gene Orza will be fired, and deservedly so.  See ya Gene!

    Melody
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    Melody
    I agree that 8.5% or so (of players testing positive in 2003) sounds low.  We already know that Bonds did NOT test positive at the time—not until they went back and tested the sample for substances they couldn’t have found in 2003.  Between players being aware they would be tested and players who were taking undetectable supplements, even a full release of the list (don’t hold your breath) wouldn’t come close to a full accounting of the steroid problem.  Of course, the league missed whatever chance they had at that when they decided to go the route of punishment rather… Read more »
    Melody
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    Melody

    Whoops… just saw the second page of comments(!) and realized I’m not the first to make this point.

    Thank goodness Spring Training starts in 10 days… it can’t come fast enough!!!

    Pete Toms
    Guest
    Pete Toms

    @ Chris – A Rod did more than remain silent.  He denied taking steroids to 60 Minutes ( didn’t see it but it’s in all the reports today ) 3 days (IIRC) after the MR was released.

    pete
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    pete
    Kensai, I don’t take Montes’ word at face value. There are a lot of reasons Montes could be trashing ARod, especially if he spurned the team’s conditioning program in favor of his own. There are two interesting things about Montes’ comments, though: 1. They pull Jon Daniels into the “who knew what, and when” cesspool. 2. It’s rare to hear someone inside the game directly point fingers at someone else. I’m not sure there’s much new information added by these comments, as we probably could’ve guessed that Daniels and other GMs had a good idea of what was going on.… Read more »
    Pete Toms
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    Pete Toms
    @ Kensai:  Yes, roids have been prevelant in high performance sports long before they were widely used in MLB ( to concur with VanD).  An obvious example is Ben Johnson in 88.  Johnson’s coach, Charlie Francis, testified at a royal commission that Ben and his other sprinters had been doing them for years.  As the years went by practically every other sprinter in that race turned up dirty as well.  And the stories about the East German “women” are legendary. Ok, it’s unlikely that all supplements contain steroids but my point is that a lot do – see the recent… Read more »
    Jason B
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    Jason B
    Tad— Costas and the SI writer made a similar point on MLB Network today, but cast blame in a different direction; they basically said that this was a grand failing of the player’s union, who should have ensured that the “anonymous” samples (and all related info) were destroyed, rather than assuming that would happen or take MLB’s word for it.  They were implying this was a huge black mark against union leadership, and how could the players trust them again, etc. Regardless of the blame (there seems to be plenty to go around), these sorts of continued leaks would make… Read more »
    pete
    Guest
    pete

    Costas’ commentary on the MLB Network today seem to answer our questions about the objectivity of the channel. Did anyone else catch the part where he slammed the owners, saying that, until this point, the union had always at least been honest and that you couldn’t say the same about the owners? I don’t know what else he could be addressing other than collusion, the whitewashing of which Craig discussed here not so long ago.

    The commentators’ harsh honesty today did a lot for the network’s credibility, at least in my mind. Hopefully it will continue.

    pete
    Guest
    pete

    Good points, Craig, and I haven’t really seen the first two addressed elsewhere so far. Kudos for bringing something new to the table.

    The fact that these names are in the process of being leaked is an outrage, but the die was cast when our wonderful federal government decided to seize the results of the tests. It’s a shame that those of us who can understand the incredibly unjust means by which this information was obtained are put in the position of defending a steroid user, but here we are.

    pete
    Guest
    pete

    I heard today, on ESPN Radio, that Fernando Montes (the Rangers’ strength coach in those days) said Jon Daniels came to him in 2003 and asked if ARod was taking steroids. Montes answered that he was pretty sure because ARod’s work in the weight room didn’t match his results, but that he couldn’t prove anything.

    Interesting, because it’s so rare for someone inside the game to just openly talk about what people knew and when they knew it.

    VanderBirch
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    VanderBirch
    Pete, I’m not sure about the nature of MLB’s ‘anonymous’ testing program, but my guess is that it was solely ‘in competition’ testing. ie tests were only conducted once players had at least started spring training. Of course, that sort of defeats the purpose of the system, as most of the big gains in muscle mass would have been made during the off-seasons, and players could have tapered off their steroid use to avoid a positive. Also, it depends what substances they were testing for. There was a big issue in the NFL regarding finasteride (used in propecia and other… Read more »
    VanderBirch
    Guest
    VanderBirch

    Of course, the whole situation right now is a really sticky one. On the one hand, it would be nice to know who used, but what is actually important is finding good solutions going forward. All but the most naive must admit that the vast majority of good ballplayers used, if only for a while.

    And this bombshell will do a lot to undermine trust and make the players wary about making any more concessions re: drug testing, and such concessions are necessary, as the whole process remains flawed.

    tadthebad
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    tadthebad

    If the testing had been truly anonymous, then there wouldn’t have been any need to keep it confidential, right?

    Preston
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    Preston
    By the way, before we trust Canseco too much, don’t forget he told a whopper in his book – that after doubling in a Spring Training game against the Mariners, Canseco asked Bret Boone how he got so big, and Boone supposedly as good as admitted to taking steroids.  Only problem with the story was that Canseco never doubled against the Mariners in Spring Training that year, or even got to second base when Boone was in the game.  Now, Boone may have been juicing, but I think it’s pretty clear that Canseco was and is just out to sell… Read more »
    TLA
    Guest
    TLA
    A couple of comments on this news . . . . First, although releasing all the names would not reveal everyone who used performance enhancing drugs in 2003, I agree that it would be better than the drip-drip-drip option for just about everyone except for the media.  And I like the fact that the floodgate release would completely disarm the media.  I know this has been said time and again, but everyone played a role in this problem, including management, labor, media etc.  It irks me that members of the media now trot around like bleeping crusaders, acting shocked and… Read more »
    kensai
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    kensai

    Some of the comments in here are exactly what I worry about.

    “If you go to a gym and lift weights, you must be using steroids.”

    “If you are muscular, you have used steroids.”

    “Supplements are steroids.”

    Ugh.

    And people need to get over this whole “it’s only from the 90s on” trip too.  You don’t think they experimented with drugs HEAVILY in the 60s and 70s?  House admitted it.  Football players from that era (Steelers) have admitted it.  Synthetic AAS (steroids) were developed in the 40s after all.

    kensai
    Guest
    kensai

    The “never worked hard enough to get results” moniker seems to be inconsistent with everybody’s reports on him as well.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3891343&name=Neyer_Rob

    Besides the reports about his work ethic, part of the advantage steroids give you in the first place is the increased capacity to do work.  You can workout longer, recover faster, etc.  That’s why it’s laughable for people to say steroid users are “lazy” or “took the easy way out”.  No, if anything, they used because they wanted to work harder day in and day out.  Just saying.

    VanderBirch
    Guest
    VanderBirch
    Kensal- I would be fairly confident that there were players that used steroids in the 80’s and earlier, but I doubt in large numbers. The substances were there, but what was required was a drug culture/work out culture. Once that is established, then drug use will spread through word of mouth and peer pressure. But baseball has always been very backward regarding conditioning, and the general attitude that weights were bad for ballplayers persisted for a long time. I think this meant steroids entered baseball a lot later than football (which has always had a more experimental culture). Weights and… Read more »
    tadthebad
    Guest
    tadthebad

    This is sad.  And I would have thought that “anonymous” testing meant no names or bar codes or other information allowing test results to be credited to specific players.  If it’s anonymous, why take a name?  Not that there was a great history to begin with, but how could the players ever trust anything endorsed by the owners or Commissioner’s Office again?

    Rob M
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    Rob M

    Let’s just give it a rest now. I know his name is on the list but who else is on it?? Everybody is so ready to judge, but he was tested when te league had not established their substance abuse program!! Now move on, It’s what he does this season that is what’s important, not what he did FIVE! years ago. A-Rod needs to move on just as we all should because no matter what he’s gona get heat anyway if he doesn’t produce this year.

    Tom
    Guest
    Tom
    I am a HUGE Yankee fan. Yes this sucks for us and all of baseball, BUT you know what , whoever leaked this should go to jail. These were supposed to be a secret. If you are going to leak names then leak them all.  why should these guys only be singled out? As far as HOF well lets see what Arods numbers are since STEROIDS are banned. If he tests POSITIVE while Steroids are banned then yes he shouldn’t be in the HOF but if he doesn’t test positive then i think he deserves to be voted in.
    Veto F. Roley
    Guest
    Veto F. Roley
    Alex Rodriquez has been accused of taking steroids. And, once more, the real villain in the steroids era is getting a free pass. The real villain is not the players who used steroids, but the sport that made them use the drugs. The real villain is Major League Baseball. Some might say that Baseball did not hold a loaded gun to the player’s head. While this may be technically true, Baseball did hold something that was nearly as powerful as a loaded .45 automatic. Knowing their players were very competitive, or they would never made it through the rigors of… Read more »
    kensai
    Guest
    kensai
    “Everybody that is muscular is on the juice.  Ok, that is untrue when applied to the general population but in high performance sports I think not.” Why? Exactly?  I agree with your point about it working, it absolutely positively works excellently.  I disagree with the body type analysis. Yes, Bonds is an example of pretty obvious use, even in the opinion of those who are closely familiar with steroids/weightlifting.  However, bodies like A-Rod are completely within reason.  Especially when you consider that working out is their livelihood. For example, i’ve seen countless people use Brady Anderson’s or Nomar Garciaparra’s shirtless… Read more »
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