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Obama calls A-Rod steroid admission 'depressing'

February 9, 2009
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WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama called Alex Rodriguez' admission that he used steroids "depressing news" that tarnishes an entire era of major league baseball.

The All-Star third baseman with the New York Yankees told ESPN on Monday he used banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. Rodriguez was responding to a weekend Sports Illustrated report that baseball's highest-paid player had flunked a drug test.

Obama, in his first presidential news conference, was questioned about the stunning, headline-grabbing sports news likely to rival his own words in broadcasts and front pages nationwide.

"I think it's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to major league baseball," Obama told reporters. "And if you're a fan of major league baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree. And it's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight."

Rodriguez joins a growing list of big name, drug-tainted stars that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco.

Obama worried about the message that Rodriguez' cheating sends to young people.

"What I'm pleased about is major league baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big a problem this is for the sport, and that our kids hopefully are watching and saying, 'You know what? There are no short cuts, that when you try to take short cuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity's not worth it,'" the president said. "That's the message I hope is communicated."

Rodriguez said he used banned substances to justify his 10-year, $252 million contract.

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