Ortiz defends legacy regarding PEDs

Red Sox slugger writes adamant defense linking '03 test to over-the-counter supplement

Ortiz defends legacy regarding PEDs

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz still carries the sting from perceptions that resulted from the 2009 report in the New York Times that he was one of 103 players flagged in anonymous survey testing in 2003 for performance-enhancing drugs.

In a lengthy first-person account for The Players' Tribune, the new venture headed by retired Yankees icon Derek Jeter, Ortiz remained adamant that he "never knowingly took steroids" and said the positive test stemmed from taking an over-the-counter product.

"Say whatever you want about me -- love me, hate me," Ortiz said. "But I'm no [liar]. I never knowingly took any steroids. If I tested positive for anything, it was for something in pills I bought at the ... mall. If you think that ruins everything I have done in this game, there is nothing I can say to convince you different.

"Most MLB players take a dozen pills a day just to get them through the season -- multivitamins, creatine, amino acids, nitric oxide, all kinds of stuff. Whatever you tell them is legal, they'll take it.

"But back in the early 2000s, you'd go into GNC and the guy working there would say, 'Hey, take this stuff. It's great. It builds muscle, helps with soreness, burns fat, whatever. Okay, sure, I'll take that. I'm buying an over-the-counter supplement in the United States of America. I'm buying this stuff in line next to doctors and lawyers.

"Now all of a sudden MLB comes out and says there's some ingredient in GNC pills that have a form of steroid in them. I don't know anything about it. If you think I'm full of it, go to your kitchen cabinet right now and read the back of a supplement bottle and honestly tell me you know what all of that stuff is. I'm not driving across the border to Mexico buying some shady pills from a drug dealer. I'm in a strip mall across from the Dunkin' Donuts, bro."

Ortiz emphasized how many drug tests he's taken -- and passed -- since 2004, when penalties started to be enforced for any player who tested positive. And in that time, Ortiz has also helped lead the Red Sox to three World Series championships, putting together what he believes is a Hall of Fame legacy.

Entering the 2015 season, the 39-year-old Ortiz has 466 career homers and a .926 OPS.

"I have been asked the same question a million times: 'Do you think you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?'" Ortiz said. "Yes, I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. I've won three World Series since MLB introduced comprehensive drug testing. I've performed year after year after year. But if a bunch of writers who have never swung a bat want to tell me it's all for nothing, OK. Why do they write my legacy?

"In some people's minds, I will always be considered a cheater. Mark my words: Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me. You know how many times I've been tested since 2004? More than 80. ... Some people still think the testing is a joke. It's no joke. Ten times a season these guys come into the clubhouse or my home with their briefcases. I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will."

Ortiz wrote of how much more the players became educated about what was permitted in MLB's drug policy after 2003.

"In 2003, MLB wanted to measure what players were taking and figure out some kind of standard. We all got tested and MLB sealed the results," Ortiz said. "The next year, they said, 'Okay, you can't take any pills with this, this and this' -- all kinds of stuff that was previously in supplements that anybody could buy. They used our tests to figure out what should be considered a performance-enhancer. Okay. Fine. Great.

"Clean it up. I love it. If you catch someone taking PEDs now that we all know the rules and have been educated about what's in these supplements, forget 25, 50 games. Suspend them for an entire year. I don't care, because I'm not doing it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.