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Yankees back A-Rod, praise him for admission
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 02 - 2009

Alex Rodriguez's admission Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 through 2003 while playing Major League Baseball prompted a statement of support from his club, the New York Yankees.
Rodriguez, the richest player in the sport, told ESPN on Monday that he used steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers, a confession made two days after a Sports Illustrated report that he failed a 2003 drug test.
The Yankees, with the richest payroll in baseball, have faced steroid confessions before with pitcher Andy Pettitte last year and slugger Jason Giambi before that and offered their support to their third baseman on Monday.
“We strongly believe there is no place in baseball for performance-enhancing drugs of any type and we support the efforts of the commissioner to continually improve the testing process,” the Yankees statement read.
“We urged Alex to be completely open, honest and forthcoming in addressing his use of performance enhancing drugs. We take him at his word that he was.
“Although we are disappointed in the mistake he spoke to today, we realize that Alex – like all of us – is a human being not immune to fault.”
The statement went on to call the admission by “A-Rod” a major step.
“We speak often about the members of this organization being part of a family and that is never more true than in times of adversity,” it said. “While there is no condoning the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we respect his decision to take accountability for his actions.
“We support Alex, and we will do everything we can to help him deal with this challenge and prepare for the upcoming season.”
The statistical analysis shows little distinction between the years he says he doped and the rest of his outstanding career with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and now with the New York Yankees as the game's highest-paid player.
“It seems like very little benefit from something that we know to be so bad for your body,” said Keith Law, a former member of the Toronto Blue Jays front office who is now a baseball analyst for ESPN.
Steroids experts say their use will definitely help an athlete's power and endurance over a 162-game baseball season, but that is also true for players working against him.
“People talk about only home runs as an indication of steroid use. Well, pitchers are able to come in and pitch more frequently because their recovery times have improved. People who are chasing fly balls can accelerate and get to a fly ball faster,” said Gary Wadler, chairman of the Prohibited List and Methods Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“Think of the image of Ben Johnson busting out of the starting blocks,” Wadler said, referring to the Canadian sprinter whose 1988 gold medal for the 100 metres was stripped when he tested positive for steroids.
In a sign of power, Rodriguez averaged 52 home runs in those three seasons compared to an average of 42 in his 13 full seasons in the major leagues.
But the Texas ballpark where he played half his games is one of the most favorable for hitting home runs. Yankee Stadium, which he has called home since 2004, is one of the most difficult for a right-handed hitter like Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also played in Texas during his prime years of age 25, 26, and 27 in Texas; age 27 is generally seen as the height of a ballplayer's career.
During those three years his batting average was in line with his career mark of .306 while his stolen base numbers – an indication of speed – were down about one-third from his career average.
“Before the steroid allegations came out, I didn't feel there was anything suspicious about those numbers. He is just a phenomenal player,” said Sean Forman, president of Sports Reference LLC, on online database of sports statistics.
“It's nearly impossible to discern what would be a steroid-fueled improvement and what wouldn't because there are dozens and dozens of factors that go into offensive performance,” Forman said.
As for the Hall of Fame – baseball's highest honor – the sportswriters who decide whether to enshrine a player have shown a strong bias against players linked to doping.


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