"Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era," a new book by Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts, says suspended New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was given a testosterone exemption by Major League Baseball in 2007.
"A new book reveals that suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was granted an exemption by Major League Baseball to use testosterone prior to his 2007 MVP season.
"The book,'Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era,' by Tim Elfrink and Gus Garcia-Roberts, and excerpted by Sports Illustrated, outlines that Rodriguez was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) in order to treat hypogonadism (a testosterone deficiency), a rarity in the sport.
"'In 2007, of the 1,354 players subjected to testing, 111 were granted a TUE,' according to the book. 'Only two, apparently including Rodriguez, received an exemption for 'androgen deficiency medications,' the category that would include testosterone.'
"Rodriguez went on to win his third MVP award in 2007 after hitting 54 home runs and driving in 156 runs (both MLB highs) with a .314 average. In the offseason, Rodriguez signed a new 10-year deal with the Yankees that would pay him a guaranteed $275 million.
"The book goes on to say that in 2008 Rodriguez applied for two other TUEs, one for a different treatment for testosterone deficiency (which was granted) and one for a drug thought to be helpful in weight loss (which was not granted).
"'In 2008, three major leaguers were granted exemptions to take drugs to treat hypogonadism,' the book reads. 'In fact, from the 2006 season through 2013, only 15 were granted for androgen deficiencies and hypogonadism, the conditions that under MLB's drug policy could require a medical testosterone boost.'
"On Wednesday, Major League Baseball released a statement defending its process for granting TUEs.
"'The TUE process under the Joint Drug Program is comparable to the process under the World Anti-Doping Code,' the statement reads. 'The standard for receiving a TUE for a medication listed as a performance-enhancing substance is stringent, with only a few such TUEs being issued every year by the (Independent Program Administrator). MLB and the MLBPA annually review the TUE process to make sure it meets the most up-to-date standards for the issuance of TUEs.'
"Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz also issued a statement: 'We have no comment. We have turned the page from this and are looking towards 2015 and getting back on the field.'
"Rodriguez, 38, is suspended for the 2014 regular season and playoffs for his involement in the Biogenesis scandal."
"That would mean at age 31 Rodriguez had likely already done the kind of damage to his hormonal system that so many hardcore steroid users have faced.
"Rodriguez joins Jose Canseco and Manny Ramirez among power-hitting baseball stars who sought hormone therapy. Hypo-gonadism, a medical condition for which doctors might prescribe testosterone therapy, also figured in the BALCO trial of Barry Bonds (there was testimony about the alleged shrinkage of Bonds' testicles).
"The excerpt' current title online -- 'How MLB let A-Rod use PEDs during '07 season' -- may be misleading insofar as it implies top league executives were knowledgeable about Rodriguez's medical files in 2007. In a statement issued Wednesday, the commissioner's office pointed to the realities of the collectively bargained drug program governing the game."
The full Sports Illustrated excerpt can be read here.
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