Page last updated at 08:53 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Baseball star admits steroid use

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is baseball's highest paid player

Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez has admitted using performance-enhancing steroids earlier in his career.

"I did take a banned substance," said the New York Yankees idol in an interview with US sports network ESPN.

"For that, I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. I was stupid for three years. I was very, very stupid."

Rodriguez does not face any punishment over his admission. He tested positive in 2003, before Major League Baseball introduced its tough anti-drugs regime.

The tests were carried out to determine whether the League needed to take a tougher stance on the issue.

According to Sports Illustrated magazine, Rodriguez - playing at the time for the Texas Rangers - was one of 104 players with positive results.

MLB maintains that the 2003 tests were "intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous", and that the list should have remained confidential.

Rodriguez said: "When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform at a high level every day.

"I started experimenting with things that, today, are not legal, that today are not accepted.

"Back then, it was a different culture [surrounding drugs]. It was very loose. I was young and naive. I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologise to the fans of Texas."

Tarnished game

Rodriguez joined the New York Yankees in 2004, and signed a new 10-year contract just over a year ago for a reported $275m (185m).

He insisted: "All my years in New York have been clean."

In modern baseball, they do not get bigger than A-Rod.

As well as being the sport's highest-paid player, he has been romantically linked to Madonna, although both say they are simply good friends.

He is an American superstar and, until recently, was seen as the great hope for baseball after its image was tarnished by a series of drug use revelations.

His admission about steroid use in 2003 is depressing for those in the US who regard baseball as the quintessential American pastime and expect more of its stars.

Even US president Barack Obama has expressed his disappointment, saying: "I think it's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball.

"If you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree. It's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight."

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