A-Rod, union, Yanks remain mum

Updated: February 9, 2009, 1:48 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- A day after Alex Rodriguez was linked to steroids, another All-Star offered this suggestion: Make public the entire list of players who failed drug tests in 2003.

"I'd be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on if that is at all possible," former Boston ace Curt Schilling wrote on his blog Sunday, referring to the number of players who were tested but assured confidentiality.

"In my opinion, if you don't do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever," he wrote. "It appears that not only was it 104, but three of the greatest of our, or any, generation appear to be on top of this list."

Yankees teammate Derek Jeter, speaking from the club's spring training site in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, said Rodriguez should be given "the benefit of the doubt."

"My intitial reaction is let him respond" to the report, Jeter said, according to Newsday. "Give him the respect to respond to it before you pass judgment."

Rodriguez joined Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on an ever-growing list of stars tainted by the steroids era scandal. Sports Illustrated reported Saturday the Yankees slugger, already dubbed "A-Roid" in the tabloids, tested positive for two steroids in 2003, when he played for the Texas Rangers.

Sources confirmed to ESPN that Rodriguez, now with the New York Yankees, was aware he tested positive.

Rodriguez, the players' union and Major League Baseball were mum Sunday.

"Alex has been out of the country. I expect him back later today and want to confer with my client before saying anything," agent Scott Boras said.

One recently retired player wanted to know how Rodriguez's name got out. Sean Casey, who spent last season with the Red Sox, said he felt violated by the leak.

"A little bit, because it was supposed to be a survey test and those results were supposed to be confidential," he said. "The only reason we opened up the collective bargaining agreement was on those terms."

The list was compiled from 2003 tests, conducted by baseball to see whether the sport had a problem with drugs. No penalties were to be imposed for a positive test, and the results were supposed to remain anonymous. Many players seemed to believe the samples would be destroyed.

Casey said he wouldn't be surprised if more names were revealed, "especially because of the witch hunt with Bonds and Clemens."

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said the purported disclosure shouldn't cause a loss of confidence in the program's confidentiality.

"2003 tests were supposed to be confidential. For whatever reason test results were not destroyed as they were supposed to have," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Since then, positives have been identified. I am comfortable [the] program is operated currently as it should be."

Baseball began suspensions for players who test positive for steroids for the first time in 2005. Players who test positive for amphetamines at least twice have been suspended since 2006.

Rodriguez has always denied using performance-enhancing drugs. When he was approached by SI last week about the allegations, he said, "You'll have to talk to the union."

Union head Donald Fehr declined comment Sunday.

The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement Saturday afternoon: "Information and documents relating to the results of the 2003 MLB testing program are both confidential and under seal by court orders. 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."
[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez, shown here in June 2003, finished that season first in the American League in home runs (47), runs (124) and slugging percentage (.600).

Major League Baseball said it was "disturbed" by the report, but did not elaborate because of player confidentiality.

"Because the survey testing that took place in 2003 was intended to be nondisciplinary and anonymous, we cannot make any comment on the accuracy of this report as it pertains to the player named," MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said.

For a list that was to remain confidential, quite a few people have had access to the players' names, including 17 federal judges and dozens of lawyers, federal prosecutors and investigators. Federal investigators looking for data on 10 players connected to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative first seized the list of 104 names in April 2004 during a raid on a private laboratory.

Since then, three federal trial court judges and their staffs reviewed the lists in considering related legal actions filed by the players' union, which argued the 104 names were improperly seized because the original search warrant sought only the names of 10 players in the BALCO investigation.

After those judges ruled in favor of the union, government lawyers successfully appealed their case to a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said prosecutors had the right to the records of all players who tested positive.

A full 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit threw out the initial appellate decision that favored the government. The full panel heard the case in December and hasn't ruled.

Spring training starts this week, now sure to open under a cloud of suspicion.

Bonds is set for trial March 2, accused of lying to a grand jury when he said he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs, and a grand jury is investigating whether Clemens lied when he told a congressional committee under oath last year that he never knowingly used steroids or human growth hormone.

Rodriguez is a three-time AL MVP and the highest-paid player in the majors. With 553 home runs at age 33, the New York third baseman is considered the most likely successor to Bonds' career homer record of 762.

Many in baseball had hoped a "clean" Rodriguez would help push the steroids era further into the past by surpassing Bonds. Instead, Rodriguez finds himself swept up in the drug scandal.

Fans were left to wonder: Would the allegations hurt Rodriguez's Hall of Fame chances, the same way they damaged Mark McGwire?

"We can't be shocked by any names, any more," Schilling said in his blog.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.