The Washington Times - February 20, 2009, 11:24AM

The New York Daily News reported Friday morning that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has had a long association with steroid-linked trainer Angel Presinal, who is banned from all major league clubhouses. The Daily News further reported that A-Rod has known Presinal since his Rangers days and that Presinal accompanied A-Rod during the entire 2007 season, staying in the same hotel when the Yankees were on the road and sharing a room with Yuri Sucart, the cousin from whom A-Rod says he got performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003.

Major League Baseball officials have warned players to stay away from Presinal, whose name surfaced in the Mitchell Report because of a sketchy October 2001 incident involving a gym bag full of steroids at a Toronto airport. Presinal was working as a personal trainer for two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez - a teammate of A-Rod’s in 2002 and 2003 - at the time and traveling with the slugger’s current team, the Indians. Airport workers discovered a gym bag containing steroids, and Canadian Border Service Agency agents allowed it to be transported to the team hotel to see who would claim it. Presinal did, and when confronted, he said it belonged to Gonzalez and denied any association with steroids, the Daily News reported.

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The Daily News report calls into question many of the claims A-Rod has made since SI.com’s Selena Roberts and David Epstein broke the story Feb. 7 that he had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. If it’s true that A-Rod associated with a steroid-linked trainer during his Rangers days, it’s virtually impossible to believe that he would have engaged in “amateur hour” performance-enhancing drug use with his equally ignorant cousin rather than consulting the trainer. And if he truly had an epiphany during his Rangers days that prompted him to stop using performance-enhancing drugs, why would he several years later not only associate with a steroid-linked trainer players had been warned to stay away from, but keep him close by?

It’s too early to draw any difinitive conclusions as a result of this report, but if there’s anything to it, A-Rod’s legacy is destroyed once and for all. Though few condoned his use of performance-enhancing drugs, many were willing to give him credit for becoming the first Hall of Fame-caliber player to admit to it an apologize. A-Rod has had two chances to come completely clean about his use of performance-enchancing drugs - his interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, and his Tuesday press conference in Tampa - and if he failed to do so on both occasions he has blown a golden opportunity for redemption from a public willing to forgive a remorseful cheater, but not a lying cheater. At this point, it’s officially too late.

As a disturbing sidenote, the Daily News reported that Presinal has worked in the past not only with Miguel Tejada, who has been linked to steroids, but also Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Ervin Santana, Adrian Beltre, Francisco Cordero and several other current and former big league ballplayers.

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected]

Photo by the Associated Press