2.19.2009

MLB Steroid Scandal: A-Rod Digs a Deeper Hole

by Suzie Raven

Major League Baseball’s steroids soap opera, currently starring Alex (A-Rod) Rodriguez, isn’t over yet. Instead of quitting while he was behind last week, he further sabotaged his reputation by creating more questions about his past. (For more background on A-Rod's original confession and the debate surrounding it, please see the post "Steroid Scandal: Can A-Rod Be Punished?")

A-Rod keeps reiterating the fact that he didn’t know what he was taking, but in a press conference earlier this week, he admitted, "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs."

I’m glad he can tell a Tic Tac from a Performance Enhancing Drug (what some folks call a PED). If he couldn’t, then he would have more problems than we previously thought.

Rodriguez, who is currently the third baseman for the New York Yankees, also said his cousin injected him with an unknown substance from the Dominican Republic from 2001 to 2003. Who lets someone inject them with a needle without knowing what the syringe contains? That sounds like a terrible idea, and one that does not fit a professional athlete who is perpetually concerned about his body.

Later, he referred to the substance as “Boli,” claming he thought it was an energy booster.

An energy booster that requires an injection? I’m no medical expert, so if someone were to suggest that I take an energy booster through a needle, I would certainly ask some questions. (And tell them that I’m okay with a Red Bull, but that’s just me). Yet A-Rod wants us to think he was content in his naivety, continuously saying he was “young and stupid.”

Even medical experts are perplexed, saying they have never heard of boli.

“Nobody asked what 'boli' was. Somebody should have said, 'Look, what is boli? Is it shorthand for Dianabol or Primobolan?' Now we're left with more speculation,” said Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and Methods Committee.

By referencing his mysterious cousin and this mysterious “boli,” Rodriguez dug himself a much deeper hole than he was already in. Major League Baseball (MLB) can’t punish him for taking the drugs, as the current steroid policy wasn’t in place until 2004. However, it can punish him if he distributed the substances to other players. The league plans to investigate the issue further in the upcoming weeks.

I support wiping A-Rod’s slate clean so he can take a swing at the Hall of Fame if he stays clean, but I was far more convinced of this possibility a week ago. Last week, he sounded like someone who made a mistake and wanted to start again. This week, he just sounds shady.

(The photo of Alex Rodriguez is by Googie Man and is used with a GNU Free Documentation license. To hear a part of the press conference A-Rod conducted this week in Tampa, Florida, please check below.)


















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3 comments:

Turk said...

Point where I agree: A-Rod came off like a tool in that press conference. Point where I disagree: it doesn't matter. Baseball needs to implement strict testing from here on out and just move on.

As for me, I was my hands of this situation. I'm looking forward to opening to as much or more than I have in past years. I hope you all don't get so caught up in your witch hunt that you forget the joys of a new season.

Suzie Raven said...

Wanting to punish people for cheating isn't a witch hunt. And my Phillies have most of their championship team back - so of course I can't wait for Opening Day.

Aspan said...

Let me say this: before you call it a "witch hunt," consider who you are damning in that statement. You are questioning the integrity of every person who has worked to clean up sports, not just baseball. Take Mark Fainaru-Wada for example, author of "Game of Shadows." I had the opportunity to speak with Fainaru-Wada and discuss his take on A-ROD, steroids, the upcoming Bonds perjury trial, etc. The man has dedicated a large portion of his professional career to uncovering steroid scandals ("Game of Shadows" uncovered the infamous BALCO case). For almost a year, Fainaru-Wada and co-author Lance Williams faced the possibility of jail time for keeping their sources private. These are guys with families, wives and children, who stood by their work in the face of terrible consequences. Tell them it’s a “witch hunt.”

Based on my brief conversation with Fainaru-Wada, I walked away with this: virtually every sport you can imagine has cheaters (PED users). Cycling, swimming, track and field, baseball, basketball, football, etc. etc. etc. But regardless of the sport, wanting to achieve greatness does not make illegal activity OK. In 1998, Barry Bonds watched as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire (both using PEDs) revitalized baseball and set new records in the recent wake of a crippling event in baseball, the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. In Spring Training of 1999, Bonds showed up 15 pounds heavier, all sheer muscle, according to “Game of Shadows.” His teammates joked around and referred to him as “The Incredible Hulk.” If you use a little logic, the reason Bonds started juicing is quite obvious. He watched the season before as two players, clearly inferior in talent to his, chased and captured one of baseball’s most coveted records. As the cliché goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Then beat ‘em.

Now let’s move to A-Rod. If you were paid $252 MILLION to play for a mediocre franchise, would you feel pressure? I might feel pressure about finding a Swiss bank account that could accommodate my funds, but playing for the Texas Rangers?! I followed the Texas Rangers at the time, and when A-ROD was signed, they weren't about to make a World Series run. The weird thing is, if A-ROD used the pressure argument for when he came to the Yanks, I might buy it. But the fact of the matter is, he was paid $252 million to be the face of a franchise that had nothing to lose. Sure, it was the biggest contract in baseball history at the time. But when you hear Rodriguez rationalize it into a reason for taking the drugs, it just doesn’t add up. He says he took them but doesn’t even know if they helped. Was he getting them for free? Because no person I know would spend any amount of their money (regardless of how much they had) to risk their reputation with the knowledge that their illegal activity may be irrelevant anyway.

Come on dude, if he cared so much about what people thought of him back then, living up to his monster deal, how can he expect us to buy his nonsense that this is behind him and he’s already moving on? He talks out of both sides of his mouth, and it doesn't take Aristotle to figure out that this guy is hiding something. Blaming the culture of the game is gutless. He was the biggest name in that Rangers clubhouse; he didn’t follow a damn thing that went on. He made the rules, and if someone told him to do something, he would whip out the checkbook and see who could match his number of 0’s. He took PEDs because he wanted an edge, and because he didn’t trust his natural ability against the people getting an advantage. Besides, if you make $25.2 million a year (which in baseball is guaranteed money) you can buy a culture of your own. Don’t argue something that isn’t true. This isn’t a witch hunt and it isn’t unfair. He cheated and he got caught. Good people put their livelihood on the line to report the truth about people like him. He had control over the situation from the moment he signed the deal. No one injected those steroids (besides his cousin) except for him. By the way, I've never done drugs, but for a period of three years my cousin did hold a bong to my lips and make me inhale once every 6 months. I’m not sure what it was though.

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