In a lengthy interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, Rodriguez explained the positive test in 2003 and apologized for his actions. Here is a transcript of the ESPN television broadcast of the interview:
Peter Gammons: Alex, this weekend Sports Illustrated reported that in 2003 you tested positive for testosterone and an anabolic steroid known as Primobolan. What is the truth?
Rodriguez: That's pretty accurate, yes.Gammons: What kind of substances were you taking? Rodriguez: Peter, that's the thing. Again, it was such a loosey-goosey era, that ... I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, uh, not asking all the right questions. And, um, to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what, um, substance I was guilty of using. Gammons: Where did you originally get the substance? Rodriguez: Um, again, at the time, you know, you have nutritionists, you have, you have doctors, you have trainers. That's the right question today: Where did you get it? That's ... we're in the era of the BALCO and Mitchell era. Back then, it was just about what. And, and, there's many things that you can take that are banned substances. I mean, there's things that have been removed from GNC today that would trigger a positive test. I'm not sure exactly, um, what substance I used. But whatever it is, I feel terribly about it. Gammons: Now, when did you get the wake-up call? Rodriguez: It wasn't 'til 2003. I was laying in my bed in Surprise, Arizona. We were doing a team conditioning down by the pool in Arizona. And I suffered a very serious neck injury that went all the way down to my spine. And it wasn't ... I missed about two and a half weeks of Spring Training, and I was scared I was going to miss time. I also had a streak of about 400 games consecutive played, and, or 300, I'm not sure what the number was. But, um it was at that point in bed that I realized, "What am I doing?" Not only am I going to hurt my baseball career, but I'm going to hurt my post career. And it was time to grow up, stop being selfish, stop being stupid, and take control of whatever you're ingesting. And, and for that, I couldn't be ... I couldn't feel more regret and feel more sorry 'cause I have so much respect for this game, and, you know, the people that follow us and respect me. And I have millions of fans out there that are, you know, will never look at me the same. Gammons: Let's go back. How were you introduced to these substances? Was it at the gym? Was it from other players?
Rodriguez: The culture, it was pretty prevalent. There were a lot of people doing a lot of things. There was a lot of gray area, too. You know, back then you could walk in GNC and get four or five different products that today would probably trigger a positive test. It wasn't a real dramatic day once I arrived in Texas that something monumental happened in my life. The point of the matter was is that I started experimenting with things that today are not legal or today are not accepted and today you would get in a lot of trouble for. Ever since that, that incident that happened to me in Arizona, in Surprise, um, I realized that, 'You know what, I don't need any of it, and what I have is enough.' And I've played the best baseball of my career since. I've won two MVPs since, and, uh, I've never felt better in my career. So that I'm very proud of.Gammons: So the test that was failed in 2003, that came off ... what you were using at the beginning of Spring Training before you got hurt? Rodriguez: I'm not sure exactly of, of the timing of everything, 'cause it is a long time, six years. But I do remember thinking in my bed in Arizona, it's like, 'What am I doing? Wake up. Stop being selfish.' And you get to a point where you, you, you get tired of being stupid and selfish and not being honest with yourself. And, and that's what I realized in '03. So I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologize to the fans of Texas. And, uh, there's absolutely no excuse, and I really feel bad about it. Gammons: To talk a little bit about that culture. It was an underground culture. A player said to me last summer that he really believes that in that period between about '98 and 2004, that the players who didn't do one thing or another were either scared or didn't care. Do you agree with that? Rodriguez: Well, I think you just felt a tremendous need to keep up and, and, and to play well. You know, it was hot in Texas every day. It was over 100 degrees, and you know, you felt like, without trying to over-investigate what you're taking, can I have an edge just to get out there and play every day? And that's what it came down to. I can't speak for everybody who did. I can only speak for myself. And, uh, regardless of what we want to mask and say and justify, there's absolutely no excuse for what I did. I'm sorry. And if I was a fan, a fan of mine, a fan of the Rangers, I would be very pissed off. And, and I can't take that back, but just realize that I'm sorry, and I want to do things to change. I want to do things to influence children and realize they should learn from my mistake 'cause it's, you know, the biggest regret I have in my life because baseball's given me everything, and I have so much respect. And I know there will be some people that say, you know, 'Alex is not a great player,' take, going back to high school, uh, I mean, they're just going to have this blanket cloud over my career. And for those, they may have their own point, but it feels good coming out and being completely honest and, and, and putting it out there and realizing that, um, the more honest we can all be, the, the quicker we get baseball to where it needs to be. Gammons: To go back, when you were 21 years old, you're saying at that point in your career, high school, No. 1 pick in the country, when you're hitting .358 at the age of 21, that you were completely clean? Rodriguez: One hundred percent. 100 percent. And even further than that, I had never even seen or even heard of the idea of taking any substance. Um, I've been very fortunate to come up ... I was up at 18 years old. I remember meeting you when I was a few months removed away from high school, and I was all of 195 pounds or 200 pounds. And that was a special time. And if you put my first year and you put my very last year in New York, there hasn't been many peaks and valleys. I had the greatest year of my career in 2007, and it was a year that I'm very proud of. Although we didn't win a championship, it was a year that was full of, um, ... it was a very historic year. To have 2007 and 1996, that, that for me says a lot. Gammons: How much of the culture ... how prevalent was this culture in Texas at that time? Rodriguez: You know, I've always been a guy that raced my own race. And, and I don't like to look left, I don't look right. You just feel there's an energy. To say it's only Texas, that wouldn't be fair. But overall, you felt that there was, uh, I felt a tremendous pressure to play and play really well. I felt like I was going up against the whole world. I just signed this enormous contract. I got unbelievable, uh, uh, negative press, for lack of a better term, for, you know, Tom Hicks and I teaming up together. And we were all bad at the time. So I felt that I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level. Gammons: How long was it before you found out that what you were doing was actually illegal? Rodriguez: Again, at the time of, of that culture, there was no illegal or legal. It was just -- you have to understand the time, and to take you back there, again, people were taking a number of different things, from GNC to what, whatever. Um, to be quite honest with you, the first time that I knew I had failed a test 100 percent was when this, the lady from Sports Illustrated came into my gym just a few days ago and, and told me, 'You have failed a test.' Gammons: So, Gene Orza didn't tell you that? Because in the Mitchell Report, it says that he told all the players who failed drug tests in 2003. Rodriguez: Gene was very specific in 2004. We had a meeting in September, um, or August. Don't quote me on the date, but, uh, he said there's a government list, there's 104 players on it. You might or might not have tested positive. At that point I said, 'OK.' That was five years ago. I never heard anything ever since. In my mind I assumed that, 'OK, whatever I was experiencing in Texas perhaps was OK, I'm, I'm OK.' And in my mind, as I, as I did my interview with CBS last year, I felt I haven't failed a test. I haven't done a steroid. And, and that was my belief. Whether I wanted to convince myself of that or ... that's just where my mind was. I felt it was important for me that all my years in New York have been clean, and I wanted just to move to the next chapter of my life. Gammons: Because ESPN surveyed a number of doctors and experts in this field, and they said that the Primobolan could never be prescribed by a doctor. But it was accessible? Rodriguez: Whatever, um, first of all, I want to see these tests 'cause, I, I haven't seen them, in fairness to me. I am saying I was, I was, I'm guilty of being naive and not having all the information and being negligent, but I would love to see the tests before I start answering questions that, that, I don't, I've never even heard this word, probably yesterday for the first time. So, again, I am guilty of being very naive, and I'm deeply sorry for that. Gammons: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You did say, you were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormone or other performance-enhancing substances, and you said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that, that wasn't a lie? Rodriguez: You know, at the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS? Um, today, I'm here to tell the truth, and I feel good about that. I think my fans deserve that, and I'm ready to put everything behind me and go play baseball, and, you know, we have a great team this year. I couldn't be more excited about the guys that we've brought in -- Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, and, and I think it's an important time in my life to turn the page and, and focus on what's, what's next. Gammons: So from 2004 on, you have been completely clean? Rodriguez: Yes. Gammons: Have you even been able to check and find out how many times you've been tested? Rodriguez: You know, Peter, I don't know the, the, the real number, but I would guess at least eight to 10 times. Um, but I would like to know that number, 'cause I know I've gotten tested quite a bit ... over the last five years. Gammons: And you were tested with blood tests during the WBC in 2006, is that correct? Rodriguez: Correct. I got tested in 2006. And also this year, um, when I go down to Puerto Rico, I'm sure we're gonna start getting tested again in 2009. And remember, prior to Texas, not only did, I really had ... at that time in Seattle, I had never even heard of a player taking a substance, you know, a steroid of any kind, in my Seattle days. Um, I mean, I know this, this lady from Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts, is, is, is trying to throw things out there that in high school I tried steroids. I mean, that's the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard in my life. And, I mean, what makes me upset is that Sports Illustrated pays this lady, Selena Roberts, to stalk me. I mean, this lady has been thrown out of my apartment in New York City, this lady has, five days ago, just been thrown out of the University of Miami police for trespassing. And four days ago, she tried to break into my house, where my girls are up there sleeping, and got cited by the Miami Beach police. I have the paper here. And this lady is coming out with all these allegations, all these lies, because she's writing an article for Sports Illustrated and she's coming out with a book in May. And really respectable journalists are following this lady off the cliff and following her lead. And that, to me, is unfortunate, and, uh ... Gammons: How do you go about making people believe you? Rodriguez: Well, a few things. I mean, I think coming into the league at 20 years old, and coming second to Juan Gonzalez as the MVP is one good indication. And then, you know, 14 years later in 2007, having the greatest year of my career is another. The other thing is, I'm going to have a sample of 14 years past this Texas era where I get to show and prove to the world, you know, who I am as a player. Hopefully I'm part of a championship team or two. And, uh, I also, more importantly, have a chance to, you know, tell the story to kids so they can learn from my mistake, 'cause there's a story to be said here. And I'm looking forward to that challenge. But to me, '09, now I'm getting excited going to Spring Training. When you take this gorilla and this monkey off your back, you realize that honesty is the only way. I'm finally beginning to grow up. And I'm pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, and, you know, about myself, when the truth needed to come out a long time ago. I'm glad it's coming out today. Gammons: Two years ago when Barry Bonds was passing Henry Aaron, it was written a lot of places, well, the great thing ... when you pass Bonds, the great thing will be we'll finally have a legitimate home run champion. When you read those articles, did they, did that, did you worry a little bit about all this coming back to haunt you? Rodriguez: You naturally have to worry. I mean, again, there's such a gray area. That era wasn't about facts. That era ... I mean, those words you just mentioned, I guarantee that half the guys that did that in any sport don't know what that is. You basically, um, end up trusting the wrong people. You end up, uh, you know, not being very careful about what you're ingesting. And yeah, it worried me completely, absolutely. And today, although I know that people are gonna be very disappointed, just like I am, um, I feel good about moving forward and doing things the way I've been doing it the last five years and the way I did it prior to being in Texas. And that's a very important point for me. Gammons: Now a lot has been said about the fact that the union did not get those, those, those samples destroyed, which involves over 100 players. Are you bitter at all that the union didn't get those tests destroyed? Rodriguez: No, I mean, God is doing this for a reason. Um, there's a reason why. Um, I can care less about what the union did. I could care less about what Selena Roberts did. I mean, this has to come out. This is very important. The most important thing for me in my career is to be honest and forthright, and to go into my '09 season as, as part of the greatest organization in the world, as one of the guys to go out and try to reach our goal. And when you have that monkey on your back, it's really hard to be, um, the person that, that you know you can be. It's hard to fulfill your potential that way. Gammons: Over the years, have you talked to anybody about this? Rodriguez: No. Gammons: You haven't talked to Scott Boras, you haven't talked to a teammate? Rodriguez: Not one word. Not one word. Gammons: How much did you learn from Andy Pettitte coming forward and essentially admitting what he did last year? Rodriguez: It was very commendable. I mean, love Andy like a brother. He's one of my best friends on the team, and I know he went through a very hard time, but the one thing is, all of us, 1 through 25, we supported him, we loved him, we didn't judge him. And, uh, through this process, Andy has been texting me four or five times. You know, one thing I'm learning as I get older, and hopefully a little wiser, is that honesty ... the truth will set you free. And I'm just proud that I'm here sharing my story. Regardless of what the union -- this is no one's fault. This is my fault. I'm responsible for this. And I'm deeply sorry for that. Gammons: Given the opportunity, would you like to go to Major League Baseball and say, 'OK, what can I do to help kids across the country?' Rodriguez: One hundred percent. I mean, that's what I've done with the Boys and Girls Club my whole life, and, and, you know, I was born in Washington Heights. I would love to really get into that community and do things, uh, that are real, that are going to make a difference. And I have an opportunity here to help out a lot of, a lot of kids. And I have nine years and the rest of my career to devote myself to children in the future and really bring awareness to, um, you know, where we need to head, uh, as a game. And I think we are headed in the right direction. Gammons: Would part of your message be that your best years were clean? Rodriguez: Well, 100 percent. The one message is that what you have is enough. Hard work, um, is the most important thing, having a clear mind, and realizing that ... that, you know, having certainty is the most important thing, believing in yourself. And, uh, and I've proven that in my career at 18 years old when I came to the big leagues, and at 20, being second to Juan Gonzalez being MVP, probably my best year of all time, you know, followed by my 2007 year. Uh, and, again, no peaks and valleys. I mean, there's some peaks and valleys, but my career overall has been, has been very consistent, not only in games played, but in being out there for my team and performing at a high level. I will hang my hat on that. And, and, and I just ask the American public to look at those three years as something that ... it was an aberration. I screwed up in those years. I was stupid. I was naive. And, you know, ever since I've been doing the right thing and proud of that. Gammons: Have you talked to Hal and Brian about this? Rodriguez: Uh, yeah. I've talked to our front office. Gammons: And what do they say? Rodriguez: They're supportive. They, they, I think overall they just want me to be truthful and be honest, and what happened six years ago happened ... six, seven, eight years ago. And they're ready for bigger and better things, which is winning a championship, running a great franchise. We're moving into a new stadium this year. Our fans have been very patient with us. They're ready for us to, uh, you know, turn up the heat a little bit. And I think we have a team that's ready to do all of that, and I'm going to be a part of that team and do my best. Gammons: Everyone cares about what other people think, and this weekend, there was a quote ... there was an unnamed Yankee front-office official who said, 'His legacy is now gone.' And there was a lead, Billy Madden's column in the New York Daily News started out, 'Now it appears he really is A-Fraud. Alex Rodriguez can forget about having his run at Barry Bonds' all-time home run record taken seriously and, like Bonds, Rodriguez can probably forget about the Hall of Fame, too.' What do you say about that? Rodriguez: Well, I'm sorry if Bill feels that way. I mean, again, he's one of the respected journalists I respect in New York. And, again, you know, I feel that ... I hope that people don't follow this Selena Roberts lady, uh, and take their lead. I hope they look at it and just give it time and realize that this was three years that I'm not proud of, it's three years I'm throwing out there, but to really judge me on, you know, prior Texas and post-Texas. And, and that's all I want. And also, I also have nine years remaining in my career where I can still do some pretty special things, I think. Gammons: Are you worried at all what it's going to be like those nine years in New York? Rodriguez: Well, look, I think New Yorkers like honesty. I think they like people that say the truth. Um, I also think they like great players that know how to win. And I think, um, winning's the ultimate medicine we can take here. If we can win a championship, if we can play well, if we can play well down the stretch, I think New Yorkers, uh, love to forgive you. And right now, I made a mistake. I was stupid. I was an idiot. All these things. And I think New Yorkers can probably relate with that every once in a while. And, uh, I think they want to see me, now that I've come forward, continue and, like with Andy Pettitte, you know, be a great player again. Gammons: One of your goals all along has been to be in the Hall of Fame. Do you think that a player who has tested positive or admitted to taking illegal substances is disqualified from Cooperstown? Rodriguez: I hope not. I hope not. I mean, I think every case is different. I think you have to look at the data. Um, if you take a career of, you know, 25 years, and you take away three, or you take away two and a half, or you take away one, I think overall you have to make a decision. I don't have a Hall of Fame vote. Um, it would be a dream to be in the Hall of Fame, and, and I hope one day I get in, but my biggest dream right now is to win a world championship and to be, uh, you know, the last team standing on that field. Gammons: Now, we go back to Jose Canseco talked a lot in his books about you, and he claimed in his last book that he hooked you up with a guy that was very, um, well-acquainted with performance-enhancing drugs here in Miami. Is that true? Rodriguez: That couldn't be more false. That's 100 percent not true. And, you know, it's kind of interesting how SportsCenter and ESPN still, still quotes this guy. Um, no. It's 100 percent false. Gammons: What do you think the drugs that you took, 2001 through 2003, what do you think it did for your performance? Rodriguez: You know, I'm not sure. I, I know that, uh, I've always enjoyed hitting in Texas. I think it's a wonderful place to play. It's a great place to hit. Um, but I don't know. It's really hard to transfer, you know, X, with your performance, um, 'cause then I go back to, well, what happened when I was 20 years old, and what happened, uh, you know, two years ago in, in, in New York and four years ago when I won my MVP, two MVPs, post. So overall, I think my consistency says a lot. Gammons: What do you think is the best evidence that you have been clean since 2004? Rodriguez: Well, I go back further, Peter. When I was, when I was 20 years old, uh, I was 210. And today I'm 225. I gained a pound a year for 15 years. Um, that's not a lot of change. I'm also going to be on trial for the next nine years, so 14 years post my Texas era. I think there's a great sample there for someone who has a Hall of Fame vote to say, 'OK, I have 20 years of clean baseball,' and then make up their mind. Gammons: Do you think it will be hard in the first couple of years to deal with people who bring up, quote 'cheating,' unquote? Rodriguez: Well, the truth is the truth, and, and, uh, again, I think it's important to get it out there, and you know, it might take five years. It might take 10 years. It may never go away. But, um, you know, being honest is absolutely the, the only thing for me to do right now. Gammons: Do you think that, I mean, sometimes, and let's face it, you're certainly one of the kings of the tabloids, you know, your private life, your divorce, your, you know, whatever. Do you start to get tired of celebrity? Rodriguez: Of, of ... Gammons: Of being a celebrity? Rodriguez: It comes with the territory. It really does. Uh, I mean, I wouldn't trade my life for anybody. I think I'm really the most fortunate, I have such appreciation, and, and even a day like today, I feel very grateful for what God's been able to do for me. Uh, with that, there's been some challenges that are necessary for me to get through, this being one of them. This being the biggest one of my life. Um, you know, divorce was another major thing. It's been a rough couple ... 15 months here for me. But I have, you know, great certainty that I'm going to, you know, overcome this and become a better person for it and a better father. Gammons: When they get a little bit older, what will you tell your daughters? Rodriguez: I was stupid for three years. I was very, very stupid. And I hope that, again, the Selena Roberts of the world do not try to go back to when I was 15 years old, or whatever nonsense she's going to report in her book, or whatever nonsense she's ... whatever information she's collected through stalking me for the last three or four years to, to ruin it more than I've done for myself. I've made more mistakes than anyone, and for that I'm very sorry. Gammons: What will you tell kids around the country? Rodriguez: You know, work hard. What you have is enough. You know, believe in yourself and don't make the mistake that I made. Gammons: As you've been living with this, has this been more difficult than dealing with things like what came out in Joe Torre's book? Rodriguez: Oh, this is, this is by far the, the most serious thing that's ever happened in my life, along with, you know, with my personal life, what happened, you know, with my breakup of Cynthia, for the last, you know, 13 years. I mean, she's, she was an integral part of my life, and we have two beautiful children. And then you have, um, it seems like every year around this time somebody else is coming out with a book, um, you know, talking about me, but you know, again, I think God has a reason for everything, and I'm sorry we have to be in the middle of, of, of these controversies. But at the end of the day, I feel good today about coming forward and uh, being honest and turning the page to the next chapter of my life. Gammons: Did you feel betrayed by Joe Torre? Rodriguez: No. I haven't read the book, Peter. So, I mean, to even comment on the book wouldn't be fair to Joe, it wouldn't be fair to myself. Gammons: Did you hear people call you 'A-Fraud?' Rodriguez: Never. I mean, the one thing is ... first of all, let me say I, I, I've always had a lot of respect for, for Joe as a manager. And you know, actually the year when he left, in '07, I really thought we had a huge turnaround. I thought we got along really well. And I actually thought we were pretty close. So I, I don't have any problems with Joe, and I will not comment on it, not now or during Spring Training, until I read the book, I won't comment on it. Um, Peter, in our clubhouse, everybody makes fun of me. I mean, I'm talking about from the clubhouse kid, to every coach, Larry Bowa to, to Mike Borzello to Joe Torre, to every guy on the team. And I like it. I, I like taking it. I, I'm not a good ragger, but I'm a good receiver. And, um, I like having fun. To me, that, that's really a compliment the guys feel that comfortable that they can actually make fun of me at any time. So did I hear 'A-Fraud?' Yeah. We joked about a lot of things. I mean, listen, 25 guys have 25 different nicknames. So to me, there, there's no harm, no foul there. Gammons: So, are you worried now about how often you're going to have to answer these questions about those three years? Rodriguez: Um, well, I'm answering 'em here today, and, um, I hope, uh, soon enough we can put it in a vault and, and move forward. I mean, uh, I know the consequences, I know. But, you know, the truth is the truth. Gammons: Can baseball ever be as much fun for you as it was when you were 21 and hitting .358? Rodriguez: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I haven't been part of a world championship team. That's the ultimate goal. And that's where my only focus ... I, I, I get to start a new chapter in my life where I can only focus on baseball, my team, the, the, the fans of New York, and, and, and recommitting 100 percent of my focus. I can't wait to get to Spring Training, because to play with ... you know, going through a divorce, this gorilla on my back, not being 100 percent honest and forthright and being transparent, I get to go out and play baseball, the game I love most. That's my savior -- the game of baseball. So, yes, I mean, it can be as much fun as never before. Gammons: When some young player or some kid comes up to you and says, 'Alright, you knew that what you were taking was illegal. Why did you do it?' How do you answer that? Rodriguez: Well, I've answered that. I mean, I think it, it comes back to the culture was much different. Uh, it had a lot to do with me being stupid and selfish and naive and, and just, um, you know, I got caught up in this, 'Everybody's doing it' era, so, you know, why not experiment with X, Y or Z? And, uh, you know, there's absolutely no excuses, uh, and I feel deep regret for that. Gammons: Do you think that it's possible over the next nine years to prove your innocence after 2003? Rodriguez: Um, I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I, I'm going to take it one day at a time, uh, feel, count my blessings every day for having an opportunity to play Major League Baseball, and, uh, continue what I've done the last five years, which is play very good baseball past all that, you know, era. Gammons: For the good of the game, would you like to see all those 104 names released, now that, that, from the positive tests in 2003? Rodriguez: I don't have any interest, um, in any of that. I mean, obviously, I would defer to Major League Baseball, uh, the Commissioner's office, and the union to deal with those matters. I mean, the one thing that I'm proud of is coming, uh, forthright about my own situation, which is the only person I govern. Gammons: How do you think this got leaked out? Rodriguez: Peter, it's really not that important. I, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, um, I'm glad it's behind me, I'm glad that, that I'm addressing it and I will continue address it, and hopefully at some point we can put it behind me and focus on playing baseball. Gammons: Thank you.