Report: A-Rod tested positive for steroids in 2003Feb 7, 2009 - 11:48 PM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Alex Rodriguez, on pace to become baseball's all-time home runs leader, reportedly has joined the sport's infamous list of sluggers linked with performance-enhancing drugs.
Just call it the A-Roids controversy.
Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003, when he won the American League MVP as a member of the Texas Rangers, according to a report posted Saturday on Sports Illustrated's web site.
Baseball's highest-paid and highest-profile player, Rodriguez tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan - another anabolic steroid - in Major League Baseball's survey testing for performance enhancers in 2003, according to the report.
Citing four independent sources, Sports Illustrated claimed that Rodriguez's name appeared on a list of 104 players that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in the survey.
Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP who has blasted 553 career homers, was aware of the positive test results, according to ESPN.com.
But Rodriguez, who has spent the last five seasons with the New York Yankees, did not discuss the reported results when contacted by SI.com this past week.
"You'll have to talk to the union," Rodriguez told SI.com when approached Thursday at a Miami gym. "I'm not saying anything."
Under the 2003 survey testing, baseball did not penalize players for a positive drug test, meaning Rodriguez will not be subject to a suspension if the potentially damaging report is accurate.
But if Rodriguez did use steroids, it undoubtedly would destroy the superstar's already tarnished public image.
Rodriguez, 33, has not commented on the report, which was released in the midst of Barry Bonds' ongoing legal saga concerning steroids use. Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, also has not issued a statement on the report.
Boras told ESPN that Rodriguez currently is out of the country and that the duo would respond to the reported allegations when his client returns.
"In a worst-case scenario, if they were true, it was one season," Boras told ESPN. "Since then, Alex has gotten the good housekeeping seal the last five years."
The Rangers and the Yankees also have not commented on the stunning development. Major League Baseball, however, has chimed in on the allegations surrounding one of the most enigmatic talents in baseball history.
"We are disturbed by the allegations contained in the Sports Illustrated news story which was posted online this morning," MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous, we cannot make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named."
The list of 104 players that tested positive in 2003 has been sealed in California.
But according to the report, two sources familiar with the evidence and two other sources with knowledge of the results told SI.com that Rodriguez tested positive for both testosterone and Primobolan.
"Based on the results of the 2003 tests, Major League Baseball was able to institute a mandatory random-testing program with penalties in 2004," Manfred said in the statement. "Major League Baseball and the Players Association have improved the drug testing program on several occasions so that it is now the toughest program in professional sports. The program bans stimulants, such as amphetamines, as well as steroids.
"Any allegation of tipping that took place under prior iterations of the program is of grave concern to Major League Baseball, as such behavior would constitute a serious breach of our agreement."
The Major League Baseball Players' Association also issued a statement regarding the report.
"Information and documents relating to the results of the 2003 MLB testing program are both confidential and under seal by court orders," the union's statement said. "We are prohibited from confirming or denying any allegation about the test results of any particular player(s) by the collective bargaining agreement and by court orders.
"Anyone with knowledge of such documents who discloses their contents may be in violation of those court orders."
A 12-time All-Star, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees in 2004, three years into a record 10-year, $252 million contract he signed with the Rangers.
Despite putting up gaudy numbers and winning two more MVPs (2005, 2007) with the Yankees, Rodriguez has struggled to live up to lofty expectations in the Bronx, often failing in clutch situations.
Rodriguez's personal life also has become a popular topic in the New York media, which has thoroughly chronicled the third baseman's messy divorce and reported relationship with pop icon Madonna.
Rodriguez found his way back into the headlines earlier this offseason when former Yankees manager Joe Torre released a tell-all book describing his 12-year tenure in New York.
The book "The Yankee Years," which was released this past Tuesday, included a passage in which Torre revealed that Rodriguez was called "A-Fraud" by several of his teammates. The book also claimed that Rodriguez struggled to adapt to New York and indicated that he was obsessed with teammate Derek Jeter.
Although his intestinal fortitude often has come into question, the legitimacy of Rodriguez's overwhelming statistics have never been scrutinized.
That is, until now.
Rodriguez emphatically denied using steroids during a December 2007 interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," which aired days after the Mitchell Report was released.
"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," Rodriguez said during the interview. "I've always been a very strong, dominant position. And I felt that if I did my work as I've done since I was a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."
If Saturday's report is accurate, Rodriguez will be grouped with Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco - stars that have fallen from grace following allegations of steroid use.
Bonds, baseball's home run king with 762 career blasts, currently is facing federal charges of perjury stemming from 2003 testimony in which the slugger allegedly lied to a grand jury about never knowingly using performance enhancers.
In the wake of the latest steroid-related scandal, Manfred echoed Major League Baseball's vow to clean the sport of performance-enhancing drugs.
"Under Commissioner Selig's leadership, Major League Baseball remains fully committed to the elimination of the use of performance-enhancing substances from baseball," Manfred said. "As the Commissioner has said, we will continue to do everything within our power to eliminate the use of such drugs and to protect the integrity of the program."
Rodriguez belted a league-leading 47 home runs in 2003, the third straight year that he paced the AL in homers. After hitting 52 homers in 2001 - his first year with Texas - Rodriguez hit a career-high 57 in 2002.
Rodriguez's 553 career homers are the second-most among active players, trailing only Ken Griffey Jr. (611).
Since joining the Yankees, Rodriguez has belted at least 35 homers and collected at least 103 RBI in each of the last five seasons. He is a career .306 hitter with 1,606 RBI - fifth among active players - in 15 seasons with New York, Texas and Seattle.
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