Former major league relief pitcher John Rocker told ESPN Radio on Wednesday that he was directed by doctors to take over-the-counter supplements that would raise his human growth hormone levels -- and that he never purchased human growth hormone with a prescription.
"I never had a prescription for any HGH. If somebody's got a beef to make with me, show me a prescription," he told guest host Erik Kuselias on ESPN Radio's "The Herd."
Rocker's account contradicted a report linking Rocker with a pharmacy in Alabama raided in connection with an investigation into sales of performance-enhancing substances. It also contradicted Rocker's own publicist, who told the New York Daily News that Rocker admitted using HGH but said he needed the substance for medical reasons.
"That was a growth hormone that was prescribed by a doctor in relation to his rotator cuff surgery in 2003, so I don't really think there is anything to the story," Debi Curzio told the newspaper.
Thursday, Rocker told ESPN Radio that he was directed to purchase over the counter supplements leading up to his shoulder surgery in 2003.
"I was trying to pitch all the way up until a week before I had my surgery. And obviously feeling as bad as I was, I called every doctor I could [to find out] what can I do to strengthen my shoulder and give me more arm strength,' he said. "Every one of them said go to a GNC, buy something over the counter, human growth hormone, these very several amino acids ... basically [that] is the way its done."
"Did you take anything that you did not buy over the counter?" Kuselias asked.
"Absolutely not," Rocker said.
"You can buy [HGH] over the counter in pill form ... or you can buy amino acids, take amino acids in a certain pattern, they will boost your growth hormone levels too," Rocker said. He said the supplements he bought could be found over the counter in any supplement store.
ESPN Radio called a GNC in Connecticut, and the store said HGH itself cannot be purchased over the counter -- but amino acids that have been shown in tests to raise HGH levels can be bought over the counter.
Rocker said by his own random guess, "less than 10 percent" of players were using illegal performance-enhancing substances while he was in the majors.
"Basically it's a lot of media propaganda. It's a great scandal to drive ratings and sell newspapers," he said of coverage of doping in baseball.
Asked what advice he could give young baseball players, Rocker said "If the league allows you to do it, do it. If it's legal, do it. Why not?"