February 11, 2015 / 6:39 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. doping chief tells Rodriguez it's time to come clean

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Alex Rodriguez needs to do more than just apologize to the New York Yankees if he really wants to atone for the way he behaved during his highly-publicized doping case, according to the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez speaks during a news conference in Chicago, August 5, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress

USADA chief Travis Tygart told Reuters on Wednesday he welcomed Rodriguez’s decision to say sorry to the Yankees as he prepares to make his return to Major League Baseball after completing a year-long drugs ban.

But Tygart said Rodriguez, who repeatedly denied using performance enhancing drugs and accused baseball officials of trying to destroy his career during a bitter legal row, needed to do far more.

“Him coming forward and apologizing to the Yankees is a fantastic first step. Hopefully he’s going to right all the wrongs that he did,” Tygart told Reuters during a doping seminar in Singapore.

“He attacked both the (former) commissioner (Bud Selig), (current commissioner) Rob Manfred and the baseball officers for simply just doing the job they’re tasked to do for clean athletes.

“(He) really put a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth with the tactics that he showed so I’m glad to hear that he’s decided to come forward and take a small step at least in trying to right the wrongs he’s committed.”

One of baseball’s highest paid and most successful players, Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 MLB season after being linked to a now-closed Florida clinic accused of supplying steroids, human growth hormone, insulin and supplements to players.

Thirteen other players were also suspended after agreeing to accept their penalties in return for lesser sentences but Rodriguez appealed and later sued baseball officials before finally deciding to drop the case and serve the ban.

Tygart, the anti-doping crusader credited with exposing cyclist Lance Armstrong as a cheat, said Rodriguez had a great opportunity to make amends for his actions by coming clean with the public and co-operating with doping officials by telling them everything he knows.

“I said it about the 11 (whistleblowers) in the cycling investigation” Tygart said.

“What they did in coming forward, when given the opportunity to be truthful, and many of them had never been exposed as dopers before, their truthful information about what really happens in sport at the elite level could end up being more powerful than anything they ever did on a bike.

“And I would say the same about A-Rod.

“Hopefully he goes farther than that and that could end up being a very powerful story for sport, of what happens when you make the wrong decisions to cheat your fellow competitors and sports fans.”

Rodriguez, who will turn 40 in July, lost about $25 million in salary while serving his ban but is still owed $61 million guaranteed over the next three years.

The ban may have also hampered his chances of getting elected to the Hall of Fame and scuttled his chances of become the sport’s all-time home run hitter.

He is currently fifth on the list with 654, trailing only Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762).

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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