Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid player in the history of baseball, has finally come clean about his use of steroids in the last decade as part of an immunity deal with the Drug Enforcement Association.
Although the All-Star third baseman had admitted to steroids use in the past, he had steadfastly denied using banned substances since he joined the New York Yankees in 2004. "All my years in New York have been clean,” he told ESPN in 2009.
For nearly two years, Rodriguez has claimed that he never took performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) from Biogenesis. But Major League Baseball didn't buy his side of the story, and suspended him for a record 211 regular-season games in 2013. That initial punishment was reduced to 162 games.
“I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances ... and in order to prove it, I will take this fight to federal court,” said Rodriguez in January of this year.
But according to recent reports, he was telling a very different story behind closed doors.
According to the Herald, Rodriguez gave the feds information which solidified their case against Bosch and his associates in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Meanwhile, Rodriguez allegedly paid Sucart nearly $1 million to keep his secret safe.
The New York Daily News reports that Sucart essentially blackmailed Rodriguez over his history of PED use and demanded that the Yankee provide funds "for the past services rendered and to fulfill your promise to support [Sucart] and his family for life."
The news of Rodriguez's drug abuse comes amid a perilous time for Major League Baseball. This year's World Series suffered from paltry ratings and the sport has never boasted fewer household names. Meanwhile, with the retirement of Yankee legend Derek Jeter this fall, "America's Pastime" appears to lack an ambassador who engenders real goodwill from sports fans.
Rodriguez's future in baseball remains uncertain. At 39, his skills have diminished over the years and he is coming off two hip repair surgeries. Rodriguez's unpopularity and bloated contract have become something of an extended thorn in the side of the venerable Yankees organization. He is still owed $61 million by the Yankees for the three years left on his $271 million contract.
Rodriguez at one point during his baseball career was hyped as the player most likely to surpass Barry Bonds' all-time home run record. He holds several Major League records and helped the Yankees win their last World Series title in 2009. Now, like Bonds before him, Rodriguez appears to be inextricably linked to cheating scandals, which will likely tarnish his all of his achievements and put his status as a future Hall of Famer in serious doubt.