x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Contrite Rodriguez delivers steroids message to students

The New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez, arguably the most prominent baseball player tied to performance-enhancing substances, has delivered an anti-steroid message to a group of student athletes.

BALTIMORE // The New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez, arguably the most prominent baseball player tied to performance-enhancing substances, has delivered an anti-steroid message to a group of student athletes. Rodriguez spoke to 500 student athletes at Baltimore's Milford Mill Academy on Tuesday in conjunction with St Joseph Medical Centre's Powered by Me! programme, an anti-steroids initiative established by the Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings and the Baltimore's schools chief Dr Nancy Grasmick.

Rodriguez started with a question: as a kid, my favourite player was Cal Ripken Jr. Has anyone here heard of him?" Rodriguez, who admitted in February to using performance-enhancers for three years after joining the Texas Rangers in 2001, went on to discuss his personal story and told the student athletes to avoid drugs. "I am here today simply because I made a mistake," Rodriguez said. "Now, how many of you here have made a mistake? Well, I'm here because I made a mistake, and one of my missions in life is to turn a negative into a positive. And to actually tell the truth, it feels pretty darn good and liberating.

"It is very important to me professionally and spiritually. At the end of the day when we look into the mirror, we learn from our mistakes, it's something we should feel proud of and become a better version of ourselves." Rodriguez recently contacted Cummings, who held congressional panel hearings investigating steroids in sports in March 2005, and inquired about how he could become involved in the anti-steroids programme.

"I am extremely pleased that Alex Rodriguez reached out to me to join the Powered by Me! team to spread the word to our student athletes about the dangers of steroid use," Cummings said. "With his high-profile support, we will continue to make a strong impact on our young people on how to play safe, fair and healthy." "We were thrilled that someone as famous and sought after as Alex Rodriguez volunteered to work with Powered by Me!. He very clearly said, don't take steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs," said the initiative's director, Mike Gimbel.

"He was very sincere and humble, and the students loved having him here. He made an impact. Everyone appreciated his efforts." The Baltimore Orioles' second baseman Brian Roberts, who has admitted to using steroids once in 2003, and the right fielder Nick Markakis, are other players who have spoken on behalf of Powered by Me! in the past. Rodriguez's American League East-leading Yankees were in Baltimore this week for a three-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

* Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service