Alex Rodriguez, the player who would restore integrity to baseball's home run record, admitted Monday to using performance-enhancing drugs himself.
The All-Star third baseman said in an interview with ESPN that he used steroids with the Texas Rangers for three years, from 2001-03, in an attempt to justify his status as the game's highest-paid player after signing a 10-year, $252 million contract.
"Back then it was a different culture," Rodriguez said. "It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. 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."
While A-Rod is suddenly coming clean, neither the Yankees nor Major League Baseball has had a reaction - at least not yet, reports CBS News chief investigative reporter Armen Keteyian.
He said he quit after 2003, his first of three AL MVP seasons, because "I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that." He was traded to the New York Yankees before the 2004 season.
The admission came two days after Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that Rodriguez was among 104 names on a list of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, when testing was intended to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball.
"I think it's a big deal for Major League Baseball because here was the player that they really had counted on to be their feel-good guy," Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts told CBS News. "Until now he had always said he was the clean one and I think most people believed that."
The 2003 results weren't subject to discipline and were supposed to remain anonymous.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez said.
"And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the culture back then and Major League Baseball overall was very - I just feel that - You know, I'm just sorry. 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."
At his first press conference Monday night, President Barack Obama said news that Rodriguez used steroids "tarnishes an entire era" of baseball.
It's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball," said the president. Obama said the news sets a bad example for children. At least, he said, such revelations help kids learn that there are "no shortcuts." They are learning "you may end up tarnishing your entire career," the president said.
Rangers owner Tom Hicks said the admission caught him by surprise.
"I feel personally betrayed. I feel deceived by Alex," Hicks said in a conference call. "He assured me that he had far too much respect for his own body to ever do that to himself. ... I certainly don't believe that if he's now admitting that he started using when he came to the Texas Rangers, why should I believe that it didn't start before he came to the Texas Rangers?"
The 33-year-old Rodriguez ranks 12th on the career list with 553 homers, including 52, 57 and 47 in his three seasons with the Rangers. He is 209 behind Barry Bonds' record 762.
Now, though, he's on top of a much different list - the highest-profile player to confess to doping, joining teammates Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte.
Rodriguez's admission is in stark contrast to the denials of former teammate Roger Clemens and Bonds.
Bonds, a seven-time MVP, is scheduled for trial next month on charges he lied when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Another federal grand jury is considering whether to indict seven-time AL Cy Young Award winner Clemens on charges he lied when he told a congressional committee last year that he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
SI.com reported Rodriguez tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone.
"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," Rodriguez said. "And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."
Rather than hold a news conference, as Giambi and Pettitte did for their confessionals, Rodriguez chose the controlled setting of an interview with ESPN, one of Major League Baseball's television partners.
The interview left open many questions:
ESPN was scheduled to broadcast the full interview later Monday.
Monday's ESPN interview directly contradicted a December 2007 interview with CBS's, when Rodriguez said "No" when asked if he had ever used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing substance.
"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," he told CBS News Anchor Katie Couric. I felt that if I did my, my work as I've done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle,
Eye To Eye: A-Rod Speaks Out
"They are looking in the wrong places," Canseco said in a text message to The Associated Press. "This is a 25-year cover-up. The true criminals are Gene Orza, (union head) Donald Fehr and (commissioner) Bud (Selig). Investigate them, and you will have all the answers."
SI said that Orza, the union's chief operating officer, tipped off three players in September 2004 that they would be tested. Orza has repeatedly denied that he tipped off players, saying he merely reminded them late in the season that if they had not yet been tested, baseball's drug agreement required them to be tested by the end of the regular season.
Orza, who has been widely criticized by media since the SI report, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he doesn't care what the media says.
"I know the facts," Orza wrote.
Rodriguez said Orza told him in August or September 2004 about the list of names that had been seized by federal investigators.
"He said there's a government list. There's 104 players in it. You might or might not have tested positive," Rodriguez said.
On Friday, Rodriguez is still expected to attend an event at the University of Miami, which is renaming its baseball field in his honor.
He gave $3.9 million to the school in 2003, the largest gift ever to the Hurricanes' baseball program and money that provided much of the resources needed for renovating the existing on-campus stadium. In return, the baseball complex will be called Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Despite the scandal, the facility will continue to bear Rodriguez's name, a university official said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitive nature.
Miami baseball players and coaches were not available for comment, spokesman Mark Pray said.