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Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admits to cocaine use

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine in 2009.

By Bob BaumAP / March 17, 2010

At a news conference this afternoon, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted to cocaine use last year and said he failed a Major League Baseball drug test. In this photo, Washington is shown during the Rangers' spring training in Surprise, Arizona in February.

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Surprise, AZ

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted he made a "huge mistake" when he used cocaine and failed a Major League Baseball drug test last season.

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In his first public acknowledgment, Washington apologized Wednesday for his behavior, eight months after he told Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who turned down the manager's offer to resign.

"I made a huge mistake and it almost caused me to lose everything I have worked for all of my life," Washington said at a news conference Wednesday. "I am not here to make excuses. There are none."

Washington said he used cocaine only once and called it "stupid" and "shameful."

The failed test first was reported by SI.com.

Washington said he told the commissioner's office and Rangers officials about using cocaine before he had a routine drug test.

"He came forward and said he would resign," Ryan said. "He understood the consequences. We had a lot of discussions and a lot of soul-searching on it."

"He stood up to it. We felt like he was sincere and forthright," he said. "We are very disappointed by this. We are upset we were put in this position."

Washington met with his players earlier in the day and told them about testing positive in July.

"He was very emotional, you could tell that he's a broken man from this one bad choice he made," Texas star Josh Hamilton said.

Hamilton has a long history of drug abuse and was suspended for the 2004 season when he was in the minors for Tampa Bay. The All-Star outfielder is the most prominent player in the last decade to be disciplined for a so-called recreational drug.

Hamilton has been outspoken about his crack cocaine habit. He said there were no parallels between his problems and Washington's admission of one-time use.

"I was addicted to drugs. All I cared about was getting more and using more drugs. I didn't care who I hurt," Hamilton said. "This was something of a weak moment, a decision of choice ... Our stories are nothing alike. The fact is he made a mistake. He learned from it very quickly. I made a mistake a few too many times and didn't learn from it."

Hamilton said he could understand how a 57-year-old man could use the drug only once.

"You either like it or you don't like it. Either you do it once or you do it more than once," Hamilton said. "That's the way it is. I know people from my past that have done it once with me and have not liked, have not cared for it."

Six-time All-Star Michael Young said his Texas teammates were behind their manager.

"Based on the kind of person that Wash is, the kind of person that we know him to be, we support him 100 percent," Young said. "This isn't going to be any kind of distraction in terms of us getting ready for the season. I think if anything it's going to make us rally around him even more."

Why?

"Wash is a good man, first of all," Young said, "and I know what kind of guys are in the clubhouse. We have a bunch of guys that play hard and the right way. I think they took on Wash's personality in terms of that. Like I said, he made a mistake, came clean and I think it's a dead issue."

Washington has been subject to increased testing since he failed, and said he has passed every subsequent test. He said he has completed the MLB drug treatment program.

Management has a different set of drug-testing rules than the ones for players on 40-man rosters that were negotiated by Major League Baseball and the players' association.

For management employees who test positive for cocaine and other recreational drugs — as opposed to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs — treatment is mandatory and decisions on discipline are made by the team and MLB on a case by case basis.