Baseball star Alex Rodriguez said admitting to using performance enhancing drugs was a "gorilla" off his back – and he would now be swinging to prove himself again on the field.
|Rodriguez says he has been clean while playing for the Yankees [GALLO/GETTY]
The New York Yankees third baseman told ESPN he "felt good about being honest" in response to a Sports Illustrated report that he had tested positive in a confidential 2003 doping survey.
Baseball's highest-paid player said he would immerse himself in his goal to win a World Series title and strive to teach children about the painful lesson he had learned.
"I feel good today about coming forward and being honest and turning the page for the next chapter of my life," said Rodriguez, who is in the second year of a 10-year, $275million deal with the Yankees.
He said he would find refuge on the diamond after a difficult year that included a messy divorce from his wife.
"I get to start a new chapter in my life where I can only focus on baseball and my team," the player dubbed 'A-Rod' said.
"I can't wait to get to spring training (after) going through a divorce, this gorilla on my back, not being 100 per cent honest and forthright.
"I get to go out and play baseball, the game that I love most. That's my saviour, the game of baseball."
Rodriguez, 33, told ESPN he had fallen victim to the pressure of the 10-year, $252million contract he signed to join Texas Rangers in 2001 and to the "culture" of the day – but had not used performance enhancing drugs before then or since joining the Yankees in 2004.
'Everybody's doing it'
"I got caught up in this 'everybody's doing it' era. Why not experiment with X, Y and Z? There is absolutely no excuse and I feel deep regret for that," he said.
Rodriguez said he had an important message to deliver.
"I want to do things to influence children and realise they should learn from my mistake, (which is) the biggest regret I have in my life because baseball has given me everything.
"I was born in (New York neighbourhood) Washington Heights and I would love to really get into that community and do things that are real, that are going to make a difference.
"I have an opportunity here to help out a lot of kids."
Rodriguez, the youngest player to reach 500 home runs and whose total of 553 puts him on course to challenge the record 762 hit by Barry Bonds, said he was keener than ever to begin a new season.
"I'm ready to put everything behind me and go play baseball," he said.
"I haven't been part of a world championship team. That's the ultimate goal. My biggest dream right now is to win a championship and to be the last team standing on that field."