MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. A-Rod is fessing up. Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez admits he took performance- enhancing drugs.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: I did take a banned substance, and, you know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful.
BLOCK: That's Alex Rodriguez on ESPN today with baseball writer, Peter Gammons. The follows a Sports Illustrated story published on the web this week that said Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. And joining us to talk about this is NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. Tom, what kind of details did A-Rod give today about his drug taking?
TOM GOLDMAN: Melissa, he confirmed that he took banned drugs from 2001 to 2003. And as to why, he said he felt enormous pressure in '01 with his new team. He had signed the richest contract in baseball history when he started with Texas, and he said he felt pressure to perform at a high level every day. He wanted to prove he was one of the greatest players of all time.
BLOCK: And he was asked what specific drugs he took. What was his answer?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, he was. Peter Gammons asked that question. This was A-Rod's response.
RODRIQUEZ: Peter, that's the thing. I mean, again, it was such a loosy- goosy era, that I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking on the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.
GOLDMAN: Now Melissa, this is frustrating and a not very believable part of the admission obviously. It's an important detail I think a lot of people want to know. We are left to think, well, was it stimulant? Was it a steroid? What exactly was it? Now, Sports Illustrated reported that it was testosterone and a less protein anabolic steroid called trenabolan. Trenabolan often is used for a sophisticated technique called stacking, where several drugs are used. And it allows a player to gain steroid benefits, but not bulk up, kind of like the Michelin Man. And, in fact, if you've seen A-Rod over the years, while big, he's always had a leaner look than some of the players who obviously put on muscle with the help of anabolic steroids.
BLOCK: Tom, do you think it was smart on A-Rod's part to - well, not get out ahead of the story, at least get out pretty soon after the publication of this importance Sports Illustrated?
GOLDMAN: I think so. I think it was only thing he could do. I mean, it's a very significant moment. I mean, he is considered by many the best player in baseball. He's in his prime. He's on the most high profile team in the game, currantly, the New York Yankees. And he's chasing the most hallowed record in baseball, the career home run record held by Barry Bonds, a guy who is also been mentioned when you talk about drugs. And, you know, he chose to go the route of admission rather than denial. Denial, of course, has become a hallmark of the steroid era. We have had other players who admit drug use: A-Rod teammates Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi, although Giambi never mentioned drugs. But we've never had a player of this magnitude do something like this.
BLOCK: And what do you think the impact will be?
GOLDMAN: He probably won't be handed any sanctions. The time period A-Rod says he was doing this was before baseball had a formal drug testing program with penalties. You know, he'll be praised for making this admission, and he should be. But he's never been a widely loved player, and that will follow him. You know, every at-bat now, some people will boo. Some will wonder if they are seeing talent or drugs. Some will wonder whether what he said to Gammons about not having done drugs since 2003 is true.
BLOCK: NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks very much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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