Let’s get the most important point out of the way first: it’s impossible to prove a negative, so Selena Roberts or some other reporter can say A-Rod was taking steroids during naptime in nursery school, and there’s really nothing A-Rod can do about it (even negative steroid tests are useless; he could have gotten undetectable drugs from his formula dealer). Roger Clemens was vigilant, and that approach failed miserably. Sammy Sosa — who, keep in mind, there was no real evidence against, except that he hit a lot of home runs — kept quiet, and that didn’t really help either.
So A-Rod is essentially a walking punching bag at this point, and Selena Roberts is taking advantage. She is pushing the idea that A-Rod must have been taking steroids in high school, because it’s “impossible” that he could have increased his bench press from 100 to 300 pounds in six months. I know a lot of people who lift weights — I was a personal trainer in college — and my own experience has been fairly typical. For comparison’s sake:
- I started lifting when I was 20 years old, and I’m about eight inches shorter than A-Rod. On my first day, I benched 95 pounds. If he was lifting ~100 pounds during his sophomore year, it was because he had never lifted weights before.
- Within 6-8 months, I was benching about 200 pounds. At that age, I obviously wasn’t growing anymore, and the biggest change to my diet was that I stopped eating Hershey Bars for breakfast. If A-Rod started lifting when he was 16, and grew even 2-3 inches soon thereafter, it would be normal for him to be benching well over 200 pounds, and possibly over 250, even if he wasn’t a full-time athlete, and without a major change in his eating habits.
- When I started lifting, I was dedicated to it, in the sense that I made it a habit to go three times a week religiously. But I didn’t have millions of dollars at stake. When A-Rod was in high school, he was already an athletic freak, and had a direct financial incentive to get bigger, stronger, faster. Even without steroids, there are lots of ways you can make significant advances in the weight room: protein shakes, supplements, etc. And playing sports full-time creates a ton of testosterone in your body to start with, especially for teenagers. The idea that a high-school aged Alex Rodriguez needed more testosterone in his body in order to bench ~300 pounds is, in my mind, absurd.
So take from that what you will. Yes, to a certain extent, A-Rod got himself into this situation; considering his place in the game, he hasn’t been nearly careful enough in his private life. But everyone has skeletons, everyone has insecurities, and everyone has things they’d rather not be written about in books. Selena Roberts is going to make a lot of money off of this, and her Q score is already way up, so on a purely capitalistic level, good for her. But last night’s interview was a pile on, and most of the new accusations are impossible to substantiate, right or wrong. There’s a fine line between journalism and pushing your own agenda, and she’s toeing it very closely right now.
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