Not to take Alex Rodriguez's side in his beef with Major League Baseball over a season-long suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs, but apparently the erstwhile Yankees third baseman could make a bit of a case for receiving a mixed message from MLB about taking PEDs.
Rodriguez played his MVP season of 2007 while taking testosterone, and not only did baseball officials know about it, but MLB gave him permission, according to a new book, “Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era,” by Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts, excerpted at SI.com.
Under baseball's drug policy, players could apply for something called a therapeutic use exemption in order to receive permission to take drugs otherwise banned by MLB. The process requires the approval of a doctor appointed with the approval of baseball and the players.
Before 2007 season, A-Rod asked to be allowed to take testosterone, and MLB said yes, permitting him to take it all that season, though the substance had been banned four years earlier. Why would a healthy athlete in his prime need testosterone? The authors cite this testimony from MLB executive Rob Manfred during Rodriguez's 2013 grievance hearing:
“Some people who have been involved in this field feel that with a young male, healthy young male, the most likely cause of low testosterone requiring this type of therapy would be prior steroid abuse.”
Perhaps MLB didn't take this position six years earlier?
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His testosterone officially sanctioned, Rodriguez had a tremendous 2007 for the Yankees: 54 homers, 156 RBIs, 143 runs, .314 batting average, .422 on-base percentage, .645 slugging percentage. He picked up his third MVP trophy.
The next year, Rodriguez received yet another testosterone-related exemption from MLB, this time for Clomid, described this way by the authors: “The drug is popular with bodybuilders at the end of steroid cycles because it can also stimulate the body to make more testosterone.”
Regardless, MLB said yes.
But a few years later, after he failed tests for PEDs, MLB said a great, big no to A-Rod. You figure he had to be thinking about those good, old days of not too long before, when baseball had been giving him a PED hall pass.