Alex Rodriguez admits to drug use with Rangers

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted Monday he used performance-enhancing drugs between 2001 and 2003, when he played for the Texas Rangers.

New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez came clean Monday, admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs between 2001 and 2003.

During an interview with U.S. cable sports station ESPN, he responded to Sports Illustrated's report that he tested positive for steroids in 2003.

"I did take a banned substance," he said. "For that, I'm very sorry and deeply regretful."

From 2001 to 2003, the six-foot-three, 225-pound Rodriguez was a shortstop with the Texas Rangers. He averaged .305 in those three seasons with 156 home runs, including a career-high 57 in 2002, and 395 runs batted in.

"Back then it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid," Rodriguez said. "I was naive, and I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth, you know — and being one of the greatest players of all time."

His admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported he tested positive for steroids in 2003, one of 104 players who tested positive during baseball's survey testing, which wasn't subject to discipline.

"It was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions," said Rodriguez, who was given a 10-year contract by the Rangers worth $252 million US in December 2000. "To be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using." reported he tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone.

"I'm sorry for that time. I'm sorry to fans. I'm sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I ever thought about substance of any kind, and since then I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that," Rodriguez said.

He directly contradicted a December 2007 interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, when he said, "No" when asked whether he's ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance.

"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," he said then. "I felt that if I did my, my work as I've done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."

Rodriguez won the first of three American League most valuable player awards in his final season with Texas in 2003. But because the Rangers were uncompetitive, he pushed for a trade to the Yankees in February 2004.

Although he's won two more MVP awards with the Yankees, Rodriguez has been a post-season failure and has never been to the World Series.

The SI report came immediately after former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre claimed in his book The Yankee Years that Rodriguez, known for years as A-Rod, was dubbed A-Fraud by his teammates for allegedly developing an obsession over shortstop Derek Jeter.

News of the reported positive drug test spread rapidly throughout the continent and beyond, with headlines even appearing in British newspapers.

"Steroids Scandal Threatens to Engulf Top U.S. Baseball Star," headlined the American sports section of Britain's the Observer.

The Times of London took a slightly less entertaining approach with its coverage, publishing the headline "Alex Rodriguez 'Tests Positive' for Drugs."

But in the rest of Europe, there was barely a ripple or a mention in such sports dailies as L'Equipe and Italy's Tutto Sport.

Most media outlets in North America took a straightforward angle on the story with "Rodriguez Said to Test Positive in 2003" or some variation of that headline appearing in the likes of the New York Times, the Boston Globe and many others.

With files from the Associated Press