Major League baseball star Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 when he was named American League most valuable player, a report on the Web site of Sports Illustrated magazine said.
The report cited four anonymous sources who said the New York Yankees slugger, known popularly as “A-Rod,” was among 104 players on a list who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003.
That season Rodriguez led the American League in home runs with 47 and was voted the AL MVP as a member of the Texas Rangers.
A 12-time All-Star, whose parents immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees in 2004, three years into a record 10-year, US$252 million contract he signed with the Rangers.
As a Yankee Rodriguez has won two more MVP titles, in 2005 and 2007.
In December of 2007 season, he inked a new 10-year contract with the Yankees for a reported US$275 million. That same month Rodriguez denied ever using steroids on the 60 Minutes TV news program.
The report said Rodriguez, who has 553 career home runs, tested positive for two anabolic steroids, including testosterone, but when asked on Thursday to respond to the claims at a gym in Miami, where he lives in the off-season, Rodriguez had no comment.
“You’ll have to talk to the union,” he told a reporter from Sports Illustrated.
The 2003 tests were carried out by Major League Baseball in order to determine whether it needed to implement mandatory testing as part of an anti-doping program.
A positive result therefore carried no penalty, but the following year the game introduced sanctions for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Neither the Rangers nor the Yankees have commented.
Major League Baseball, however, said it was “disturbed” by the report.
“We are disturbed by the allegations contained in the Sports Illustrated news story which was posted online this morning,” MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous, we cannot make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named.”
The league’s Players Association also issued a statement.
“Information and documents relating to the results of the 2003 MLB testing program are both confidential and under seal by court orders,” the players’ union said. “We are prohibited from confirming or denying any allegation about the test results of any particular player(s) by the collective bargaining agreement and by court orders. Anyone with knowledge of such documents who discloses their contents may be in violation of those court orders.”
Baseball has been grappling with claims of drugs use by some of its high profile stars in recent years, perhaps most famously home run king Barry Bonds.
Bonds fell back under the doping spotlight earlier this week when a New York Times report said a urine sample that he provided as part of the anonymous testing in 2003 had tested positive.
Bonds had provided samples that did not test positive under the MLB’s drug-testing program, but those samples were retested after they were seized in a 2004 raid by federal agents, the newspaper reported.
The new information could be a key factor in Bonds’ perjury trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 2.