A Failed Drug Test, A Phone Call, and the Truth Shall Set You Free

February 10, 2009

One can only speculate how the final weeks of the 2004 baseball season unfolded for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Perhaps Alex was jogging in Central Park, too preoccupied to notice the missed call that went straight to voicemail on his cell phone. Unable to recognize the number, Alex would have listened to the message with concern and trepidation.

The caller would have been none other than Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players’ Union, calling to warn the newly-minted highest paid player that bad news lay in store. Alex may have been startled but barely surprised at the message: he would have to be tested once again for performance-enhancing drugs. After all, the homerun hitter had taken the same test just one year earlier.

Although the information above is merely speculative, what we do know as fact is what follows.

In 2003, while with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez underwent an experiment that was instituted by Major League Baseball and approved by the Players Union, one that called for the testing of baseball’s athletes. The test was administered in an effort to address the growing number of baseball players using performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez and his fellow players were under the impression that the results would be made anonymous and later destroyed, with the only penalty for positive results being the burden of having to take the test again.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez and 103 others, the results came back positive. In turn, they were scheduled to take the test again at the start of the following season. Months passed, the guilty parties were re-tested, yet the original evidence of the positive results was never destroyed as agreed ending up in the hands of the federal government.

Fast forward to February 2009, SI.com, the web site of Sports Illustrated, leakes Rodriguez’ test results to the public. In an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, Rodriguez willingly admits to using a banned substance during the 2001-2003 seasons and now feels confident that he has gotten the “monkey off his back.” He recalls his days as a Texas Ranger using such words as “naïve, stupid, and young.” Throughout the interview, the former three-time MVP pleads incessantly and asks several times for his fans to forgive him. “I am deeply sorry and I apologize,” Rodriguez said. “I’m ready to move on.”

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