Unable to punish Alex Rodriguez for failing a drug test that was supposed to be anonymous, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig could only chastise him.
|Commissioner Bud Selig is unable to punish Rodriguez for his 'indiscretion' [GALLO/GETTY]
"What Alex did was wrong and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation," the commissioner said on Thursday.
It has been three days since the Yankees slugger admitted using banned substances from 2001-2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.
"While Alex deserves credit for publicly confronting the issue, there is no valid excuse for using such substances, and those who use them have shamed the game."
Outed by magazine
Rodriguez's admission followed a US magazine Sports Illustrated report that he was on a list of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, when testing was intended only to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball.
The results were seized by the government in 2004 and remain under seal.
Because it was an anonymous test and because Rodriguez's confession involved the years before the drug agreement took effect, there is little Selig can do to punish him.
Players and owners did not agree to a joint drug program until August 2002, and testing with punishment did not start until 2004.
"It is important to remember that these recent revelations relate to pre-program activity," Selig said.
"Under our current drug program, if you are caught using steroids and/or amphetamines, you will be punished. Since 2005, every player who has tested positive for steroids has been suspended for as much as 50 games."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, speaking after his first staff meeting of spring training, said he wasn't sure whether he wanted Rodriguez to address the team.
Position players are due to report for duty on Tuesday and start workouts the following day.
"If it's in his heart, yes, I would, but if it's not, that's OK, too," he said.
Girardi said Rodriguez, baseball's highest-paid player, "has a chance to have a major platform" in speaking out against drugs.
Rodriguez's admission has overshadowed all the other big events of the Yankees' offseason: the signings of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira at a cost of $423.5 million, and former manager Joe Torre's tell-all new book.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that because of Rodriguez's admission, "I'm not confident about anything, about anybody."
"We've lived through a tough stretch that shattered that confidence level," he said.
"If you asked me that question five years ago, I'd be giving you a different answer, but I've been educated quite a bit, unfortunately.
"So I'm not going maybe make the same mistakes that I've made in the past. I'm not confident about anything in the past anymore."
Girardi said he'll be keeping a closer eye on his clubhouse.
"Will I watch for signs of players that I have concerns about, you know, from now on? Yes I will," he said.
"I'll try to educate myself as much as I can."
He thought Rodriguez would be able to handle repeated questions about drug
"As much as he's booed everywhere sometimes, the way that he's followed around, the way his life is hard to keep private, I imagine you have to have pretty thick skin to wake up every morning," Girardi said.
|Joe Girardi and Rodriguez in earlier happier times [GALLO/GETTY]
Rodriguez hasn't apologised to Girardi, and the manager has not asked for an apology.
Former catcher Girardi took some of the blame for steroids in baseball, citing his role as a union activist during his playing days, which ended in 2003.
"We were all negligent in this. We missed the boat for a while," he said.
"I didn't think it was very prevalent. Now has my opinion changed? Yes, it has, and we should have done something sooner."
Usage appears to have dropped - along with home-run totals.
In 2008, there were three major league violations and 68 minor league violations for performance-enhancing drugs.
So far this year, there have been two in the majors and three in the minors.