SI – Under baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, players can apply for a so-called therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take certain medical substances otherwise banned by MLB. A doctor appointed by both sides—the independent program administrator (IPA) — reviews all applications. Baseball also has an expert medical panel to advise the IPA. If an exemption is granted, the player cannot be punished for using that substance. The exemption is good for one year.
Before the 2007 season, Rodriguez asked for permission to use testosterone, which has been banned by baseball since 2003. The IPA in ’07 was Bryan W. Smith, a High Point, N.C., physician. (Baseball did not yet have the advisory medical panel.) On Feb. 16, 2007, two days before Rodriguez reported to spring training, Smith granted the exemption, allowing Rodriguez to use testosterone all season.
The exemption was revealed in a transcript of Rodriguez’s fall 2013 grievance hearing. During that proceeding, MLB entered into evidence several exemptions applied for by Rodriguez during his Yankees tenure. In his testimony, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred called testosterone “the mother of all anabolics” and said that exemptions for the substance are “very rare,” partly because “some people who have been involved in this field feel that with a young male, healthy young male, the most likely cause of low testosterone requiring this type of therapy would be prior steroid abuse.”
Statistics requested in 2008 by Massachusetts congressman John Tierney as part of a government probe into baseball’s PED problem reveal how rare testosterone exemptions are. In 2007, of the 1,354 players subjected to testing, 111 were granted a TUE. Only two, apparently including Rodriguez, received an exemption for “androgen deficiency medications,” the category that would include testosterone. The other exemptions that year involved treatments for baldness, hypertension and — predominantly — attention deficit disorder. The alarmingly high number of exemptions for the latter was Tierney’s main concern. “I think it begs a question: Are people using this as a loophole?” said Tierney. “Are they taking these because they are perceived as a performance-enhancing drug, or do they have a legitimate medicinal purpose?”
Even after securing his latest windfall, Rodriguez wasn’t done seeking exemptions that allowed him to boost his testosterone levels with banned substances. In January 2008, according to the arbitration hearing transcripts, he requested two exemptions. Rodriguez wanted to use clomiphene citrate (Clomid), a drug designed to increase fertility in women. It is also prescribed to men who suffer from hypogonadism — a testosterone deficiency — to block the production of estrogen in their bodies. The drug is popular with bodybuilders at the end of steroid cycles because it can also stimulate the body to make more testosterone.
Rodriguez also requested permission to use human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone known as HCG, popularly — and misguidedly — used for weight loss and also to produce testosterone. Both HCG and clomiphene citrate were banned with the 2008 season. Smith approved Rodriguez’s use of clomiphene citrate that year. The exemption for HCG was denied, but according to the transcript of Manfred’s arbitration testimony, that denial was “more of a recordkeeping thing than anything else.” Rodriguez’s physician communicated with Smith, and “in their back-and-forth the physician informed Dr. Smith that the player was no longer using [HCG],” Manfred testified.
With permission to use clomiphene citrate, Rodriguez was once again one of the few players allowed to take medicine designed to increase testosterone levels. In 2008, three major leaguers were granted exemptions to take drugs to treat hypogonadism. 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.
By 2008, Rodriguez had played at least a significant portion of his career — including, at a minimum, two of this three MVP seasons — with the apparent help of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
Incredible article from Sports Illustrated. I posted a huge excerpt because its all pretty fascinating. I suggest if you have the time reading the whole thing. But more or less Arod straight up asked to use testosterone in 2007 and a MLB doctored permitted him to do so under a “Therapeutic Use Exemption” which allows people to used substances banned by MLB. In 2008 he asked for an exemption of clomiphene citrate – which blocks estrogen in your body – and HCG – a drug for weight loss and testosterone production. He was granted the clomiphene exemption and although he was “denied’ the HCG exemption, it seems like records indicate he had been taking it anyway.
So more or less what we’re seeing here is that Alex Rodriguez flat out asked to use steroids and on multiple occasions, Major League Baseball said yes.Which is fucking outrageous. Basically incriminating Major League Baseball and invalidating their whole crusade against Arod. The Alex Rodriguez saga is so interesting because it came about at a time when there really weren’t hard line rules in place. Suspensions were wishy washy, the banned substance list wasn’t explicit and even here in this story we learn that as late as 2007, the didn’t have any sort of medical advisory panels. So while I’m sure this was probably more of a situation with a crooked doctor willing to break the rules, it still was coming from an MLB physician with nobody to check his authority. Arod is obviously a cheater and a scumbag but if Major League Baseball was complicit in the whole thing, they need to share some of – if not all of – the blame. I’m sure it was shady, but bottom line is Arod technically went through proper channels, asked for exemptions that were perfectly allowable by Major League Baseball standards, and was told he could take those substances. That changes EVERYTHING in the steroid saga. EVERYTHING. I don’t doubt there were other times that he didn’t use this exemption and straight up acquired banned substances illegally and used them without MLB knowing. But at least 2 of the seasons everyone points to as the pinnacle of Arod’s steroid use was allowed by the league. Thats crazy.