- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UPDATED:

New York Yankee star Alex Rodriguez admitted Tuesday that he make “a stupid mistake” by taking a banned over-the-counter substance between 2001 and 2003 and said, “I screwed up big time.”

“The only thing I ask from the American people…is to judge me from this day forward.”

He told a news conference at Yankee spring training headquarters in Tampa, Fla., that he took the substance at the urging of his cousin for twice a month for six months and “consulted no one” about it. He said he blamed himself, not his cousin.

The Yankee third baseman, who first acknowledged in a magazine interview that he had taken a banned substance, said he took it at the urging of his cousin because it was part “of being young and being curious.”

Mr. Rodriguez, 33, known as A-Rod, signed a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees in 2007, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball.

“It was pretty evident we didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. I stopped taking the substance in 2003 and haven’t taken it since.”

That was the year he played with the Texas Rangers and was named Most Valuable Player. He signed with the Yankees in 2004.

“It’s tough to make mistakes,” A-Rod said at the outset of his prepared statement. “People will see it the way it is — a stupid mistake… . I apologize to my teammates.”

In response to questions afterward, he said, “I certainly made a mistake. I feel poorly for what I did.”

“I screwed up big time,” he said.

A-Rod said several times that he had his best years in baseball when he was 20 in July 1995 and again in 2007, times when he did not take the substance. He signed with the Seattle Mariners in 1996, his first year in professional baseball.

At one point during near the conclusion of his prepared remarks, A-Rod choked up, halted after starting a sentence — “As for my teammates” and sipped water from a plastic bottle, ending his statement.

He said he had taken the substance as an experiment because his cousin told him it would provide a “dramatic energy boost” and that it was “harmless.” He said he bought it over-the-counter.

A-Rod said he was told in 2003 that he might have tested positive for taking a banned substance.

“People are going to talk about my future as if it’s been determined,” he said, his teammates and officials of the Yankee organization in the room. “I have no control over that.”

But, A-Rod said, what he does have control over is attending spring training because it “means a new beginning for me.”

“Like everyone else, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life,” he said. “The only thing to do is to learn from them and move forward.”

He was asked why he didn’t acknowledge that he had taken the substance when he was asked during a “60 Minutes” interview whether he ever had tried steroids.

“I may have to answer this for the rest of my career,” A-Rod replied. “That’s the situation I put myself in. I’m here to say my story, and this is it.”

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