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A-Rod Offers Details On Steroid Use

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez says it was a cousin who injected him with a banned substance from 2001 to 2003. He says the drug was bought in the Dominican Republic. And he hoped it would give him what he called "an energy boost". A-Rod held a news conference today in Tampa, Florida, where he reported for spring training with the New York Yankees. NPR's, Tom Goldman has more.

TOM GOLDMAN: An estimated 200 reporters showed up today at the Yankees' George M. Steinbrenner field, in Tampa, hoping for the details from Alex Rodriguez that weren't there last week. In his interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons last Monday, A-Rod acknowledged he took a banned substance but he didn't say what it was, from whom he got it, where he got it. Anticipating questions about that, Rodriguez opened his press conference today with this.

Mr. ALEX RODRIGUEZ (Baseball Player): Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that you could purchase over-the-counter in DR known as, in the streets, is known as boli or bole. My cousin and I, one more ignorant than the other, decided it was a good idea to start taking it.

GOLDMAN: Rodriguez was asked what he got out of using the drug.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I'm - you know, I'm not sure what the benefit was. I will say this: When you take any substance or anything, and especially in baseball, it's half mental and half physical. I've certainly felt more energy, but it's hard to say - hard to say.

GOLDMAN: If this were going to be A-Rod's tell-all, it ended yet again with more questions. It's still not certain what the drug was. One anti-doping expert who watched the press conference said it could be Primobolan or Dianobol. Over and over, Rodriguez blamed his youth at that time, even though he was 26, 27, and 28 years old during that three-year span. He was naïve, he said, and didn't really know the drug was a steroid. Yet he and the cousin were secretive throughout the process. They didn't tell anyone about it. At the press conference, a New York Post reporter tried to reconcile the seemingly contradictory statements.

Unidentified Man: Alex, you mentioned earlier that you didn't think at the time that what you and your cousin were doing was wrong. But if you didn't think it was wrong, why were you so secretive and so reluctant to ask for assistance with what you're doing?

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: That's a good question. I knew we weren't taking Tic-Tacs.

Mr. ERIC DEZENHALL: On one hand, he admitted that he did something habitually, yet characterized it as being naïve, which is sort of like saying: I'm not prejudiced, I just don't like minorities.

GOLDMAN: Eric Dezenhall runs a crisis management firm based in Washington D.C. Dezenhall watched the Rodriguez press conference and says he was frustrated by a lot of the inconsistencies. But as classic crisis management goes - and A-Rod has been consulting with a number of media strategists - Dezenhall says Rodriguez did what he had to do.

Mr. DEZENHALL: He admitted as much as he was going to admit and now he says look I'm not going to talk to you about it anymore. If you come to me with other chemicals, other years, other instances, other examples, I'm not going to talk to you about it. And there is some damage control benefit to shutting that down.

GOLDMAN: And Rodriguez certainly has help. The Yankees PR person running the press conference ended questions after A-Rod said the following: I screwed up big time. I asked everyone to judge me from this day forward.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.