- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. | Alex Rodriguez answered one big question Tuesday, admitting his cousin repeatedly injected him with a substance from the Dominican Republic.

The New York Yankees star blamed his 2003 positive test on being young and naive.

“I knew we weren’t taking Tic Tacs,” said Rodriguez, who was joined at the head table by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.

Before a horde of reporters at Steinbrenner Field, Rodriguez began by reading a statement in which he again apologized for taking banned drugs from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Texas Rangers.

Then Rodriguez turned to his teammates and searched for the right words.

It took 37 seconds - a break in which he looked side to side, blinked several times, bit his lip and took a sip of water - then finally looked up and faced Derek Jeter and Co.

“Thank you.”

Rodriguez said his cousin introduced him to “boli,” saying it was an over-the-counter substance in the Dominican. While with Texas, he said his cousin injected him about twice a month during six-month cycles to get an energy boost.

“I didn’t think they were steroids,” he said. “That’s again part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter. It was pretty simple.”

“All these years I never thought I did anything wrong.”

He said he wasn’t sure how the drug use helped him, but admitted he had more energy.

Rodriguez said he has not used human growth hormone or any other banned drug since then. He refused to identify his cousin.

The three-time AL MVP and baseball’s highest-paid player spoke at the Yankees’ spring training camp 10 days after SI.com reported that he tested positive in 2003.

“He’s a huge investment. So he’s an asset, and this is an asset that’s currently in crisis,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “So we will do everything we can to protect that asset. … If this is Humpty Dumpty, we’ve got to put him back together again to get back up on the wall.”

In an interview last week with ESPN, Rodriguez blamed the pressures of his $252 million contract with Texas for his decision to use performance-enhancing drugs.

“I thought I knew everything, and I clearly didn’t,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “Like everyone else, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle it is to move forward.”

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