Alex Rodriguez Press Conference, Boli, Cousin Yuri Sucart, Fallout
Eight days after Alex Rodriguez admitted using a “banned substance” in an interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons, Rodriguez held his much anticipated press conference at spring training.
This time around, Rodriguez admitted using an “over the counter” substance he called “Boli” that his cousin (later identified as Yuri Sucart) purchased in the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez said that from 2001 to 2003 his cousin would inject him twice per month for six months, presumably the six months spanning the baseball season.
Sports Illustrated had previously reported that Rodriguez had tested positive for Primobolan (Methenolone) and testosterone in 2003. It was later discovered that Primobolan was not available over the counter in the Dominican Republic, but could be acquired on the black market rather easily.
Rodriguez certainly provided new information, but the story seems to have changed.
This is from the Peter Gammons Interview (Feb. 9):
There’s many things that you can take that are banned substances. I mean, there’s things that have been removed from GNC today that would trigger a positive test. I’m not sure exactly what substance I used. But whatever it is, I feel terribly about it.
And this is from the Press Conference (Feb. 17):
“Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that you could purchase over-the-counter in DR know as, in the streets, it’s known as boli or bole. It was his understanding that it would give me a dramatic energy boost and (was) otherwise harmless. My cousin and I, one more ignorant than the other, decided it was a good idea to start taking it. My cousin would administer it to me, but neither of us knew how to use it properly, providing (sic) just how ignorant we both were.
According to Gammons via ESPN’s Le Anne Schreiber, Rodriguez’s story may also have changed the night before the interview.
Gammons told me, as well as other interviewers, that he was stunned by Rodriguez’s admission that he had taken banned substances for three years.
“When I talked informally with Alex the night before,” Gammons said, “I got the impression he was going to say whatever he tested positive for in 2003 was related to prescription drugs he had taken for a back injury in spring training.”
Rodriguez’s statements thus far have raised as many questions as they have answered. Here’s some comments from the media since the press conference.
Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman
“Do I believe that Alex Rodriguez, who won’t have a Snickers bar or a cookie, let his cousin inject him with something that he didn’t know what it was? I find that really hard to believe.”
ESPN’s Jayson Stark
Let’s start with this: He sure didn’t tell the same story Tuesday that he told to Peter Gammons a week and a half ago. Did he? Nine days ago, A-Rod didn’t know what kind of drug (or drugs) he was taking — even though he says he took it for three years.
Now, nine days later, he knows it was something called “boli.” Which, best we can tell, is another name for Primobolan, the exact drug he was asked point-blank by Gammons whether he had taken.
Nine days ago, there wasn’t one word uttered about any mysterious cousins who were procuring this stuff and helping him inject it. Now, it’s time to start poring over his family tree to try to figure out which cousin it was.
Nine days ago, A-Rod was implying that whatever he was taking, he was buying it down at the mall, presumably while he was waiting for an Auntie Anne soft pretzel to come out of the oven.
Now, he’s admitting his cousin was the one doing the purchasing. And although he continued to say this drug was bought “over the counter,” we now know that counter was located in the Dominican Republic, not outside his friendly neighborhood food court.
Nine days ago, there was no mention of any other “substances.” But on Tuesday, Rodriguez admitted to ESPN’s Hannah Storm that he also used to take Ripped Fuel, which was later banned — at least in its original ephedra-based form — by both baseball and the FDA.
And nine days ago, Rodriguez was angrily accusing universally respected Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts of “stalking” him. Now, it turns out, he just had a “misunderstanding of the facts.” So never mind.
Some reporters touched on how coached Rodriguez seemed to be. Rodriguez has a team of lawyers and recently hired PR firm, Outside Eyes, to help him through this process.
ESPN’s TJ Quinn
What A-Rod said: “Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that can be purchased over the counter in the D.R. [Dominican Republic]. In the streets, it’s known as ‘boli.'”
What he didn’t say: That simple statement, apparently designed to satisfy reporters about how, where and with whom his steroid use began, sparked more questions than anything else A-Rod said. Where did he hear about “boli”? Where did Sucart learn about it? If boli refers to Primobolan (a brand name for methenolone), it can’t be purchased over the counter in the Dominican Republic. So how did they get it? The black market?
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter
He never called the substance he took — which was reported by SI’s Selena Roberts and David Epstein to be the cutting-edge steroid Primobolan — by anything but the name “Boli” (which he explained was its street name in the Dominican Republic, where he said his unnamed cousin acquired it). That seemed as if it was one facet of a strategy to underscore the youthful nature of his indiscretion. “I didn’t think they were steroids. That’s part of being young and stupid. It was basically amateur hour,” he said. Later he added, “I knew we weren’t taking Tic Tacs.”
Given the chance to communicate openly and honestly, he seemed to have mainly spin to offer — and, sadly, it seems likely that nothing he can ever do as a baseball player, from this day forward, will make the public forget that.