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Can A-Rod's admission spur baseball's cleanup?

In what could be a sign of things to come, the minor leagues have developed a stringent drug-testing program.

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There's some help on the way, but it's limited and has been slow in coming. In January 2008, Major League Baseball – along with the NFL, the US Olympic Committee, and the US Anti-Doping Agency – announced a new Partnership for Clean Competition, which would provide $10 million in antidoping research grants over four years. But it has yet to get off the ground: Catlin just received an e-mail welcoming grant applications on Monday, more than a year later.

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In addition, some baseball players may be using prescription drugs to give them an edge. Over 100 players have prescriptions for Ritalin, a substitute for amphetamines, says Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College and author of books on baseball. "The best you can do is minimize use, and baseball is basically doing that," he says.

Some of the players, including Rodriguez, say they feel under pressure from their gigantic salaries to perform.

"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt that I had all the weight of the world on top of me to perform, and perform at a high level every day," said Rodriguez in an interview with sports channel ESPN.

Until Sports Illustrated broke the story of Rodriguez's use of steroids, he was considered a shoo-in to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Few expected his home-run totals to include an asterisk. He had steadily denied using any performance-enhancing drugs, including during an interview 18 months ago on the CBS show "60 Minutes."

Rodriguez is signed with the New York Yankees for the next nine years. His career there has been full of controversy, including a messy divorce. Some of his teammates referred to him as "A-Fraud," according to a new book by Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager.

Now, Yankee fans admit to some disillusionment. One of those is Doug Muzzio, a Yankees fan since 1954. "Another hero bites the dust," says the Baruch University professor. "I guess the push to greatness gets to them."

Baseball fan Ken Jenkins of Queens says the whole story is tragic. "The sad thing is that he had the skill and talent and didn't need the drugs."

The Yankee slugger, in interviews, says that is what he now realizes.
Material from the wire services was used in this report.

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