According to a report in Sports Illustrated, four independent sources have confirmed to Selena Roberts and David Epstein that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003 and was subsequently tipped off to a drug test the following year. Needless to say, this will create some media circus for the Yanks and A-Rod in the coming weeks.
Roberts, a former Times columnist, and Epstein, a long-time SI staff writer, got a hold of what should have been a sealed list. The government just hasn’t been very good at keeping a lid on confidential information during this largely unnecessary steroid investigation. But what’s done is done, and the news does not sound good for A-Rod’s image. The two write:
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.”
According to the report, A-Rod tested positive for increased testosterone levels and for Primobolan, a hard-to-detect designer steroid that minimizes what Roberts and Epstein termed “bulk development.” In other words, there’s no Jason Giambi/Barry Bonds effect in play with Primobolan.
At this point, I have to assume that A-Rod has passed numerous drug tests and has been clean, but this story will still be a P.R. disaster because of a subsequent development in 2004. After A-Rod’s failed test as a member of the Rangers in 2003, he may have been warned in 2004 when, as a Yankee, his name popped up on the testing rolls again. Reportedly, A-Rod is the unnamed player whom Gene Orza, COO of the players union, was accused of tipping off to an impending drug test in 2004. Si reports:
According to the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball, in September 2004, Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players’ union, violated an agreement with MLB by tipping off a player (not named in the report) about an upcoming, supposedly unannounced drug test. 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.
Who knows what this will do to the Yankees? Who knows what this will do A-Rod and his reputation? People tolerated A-Rod because everyone always just assumed he was clean. At this point, it’s hard to believe that any player was truly off steroids. For the sake of the Yanks, I hope this blows over, but I, for one, am not too optimistic.