WASHINGTON, February 10 – President Barack Obama said Monday baseball star Alex Rodriguez's confession of steroid use was "depressing," but added that league officials were at least now taking the problem seriously.
"It’s depressing news on top of what’s been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball," he said after the New York Yankees star admitted to past use of performance-enhancing steroids.
Obama told a news conference that the confession by Rodriguez "tarnishes an entire era to some degree" and that drug use by sports stars sent the wrong message to the nation’s youth.
But the president added: "What I’m pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big of a problem this is for the sport."
In an interview with ESPN on Monday Rodriguez admitted that he took steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003.
"A-Rod," now a third baseman for the Yankees, made the admission two days after Sports Illustrated magazine reported he was one of 104 players who had tested positive for steroids in 2003.
Rodriguez joined a list of tarnished stars whose feats have been clouded by doping accusations, including US
all-time home run king Barry Bonds and star pitcher Roger Clemens.
Rodriguez hit a league-best 47 home runs in 2003 and with 553 career homers and was seen as a likely candidate to eclipse Bonds as the all-time homer king.
Obama, an ardent Chicago White Sox fan, said he hoped that US children would take away the message that "there are no shortcuts."
Obama said kids should realize "that when you try to take shortcuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career. And that your integrity is not worth it. That’s the message I hope is communicated."