Anti-steroids crusader waiting for A-Rod

August, 12, 2013
NEW YORK -- The way the founder of an anti-steroids organization sees it, Alex Rodriguez owes him an explanation.

He's still waiting.

"It's not [that I'm] mad at him, It's not anything to be mad about. It's disappointed," Don Hooton told the Associated Press at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, describing his feelings. "I really hoped I would've heard from Alex before [his suspension] came out" last week.

A tireless crusader against PEDs since his son Taylor committed suicide at 17 after becoming depressed following his withdrawal from steroids, Don Hooton enlisted Rodriguez in 2009 -- when the New York Yankees slugger addmitted to using banned substances with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03 -- to help the Taylor Hooton Foundation.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Alex Rodriguez homered Sunday during the Yankees' 5-4 victory over the Tigers.
Rodriguez did most of his work for the foundation out of the spotlight -- meeting thousands of kids in about 36 appearances for the group -- and Hotoon said A-Rod was an exemplary volunteer.

But Hooton feels Rodriguez's recent 211-game suspension as a result of Major League Baseball's investigation into Biogenesis, the now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic, has overshadowed everything else.

"He's lived up to every part of his obligation to us, except this one," Hooton said. "And it's more important that all the others."

Rodriguez is appealing the suspension.

Hooton was reluctant to vilify Rodriguez when rumors first started emerging about the three-time AL MVP's link to Biogenesis. Once it became clear he would be suspended, though, the foundation's board chose to end its association with the twice-tainted star.

Hooton said they will likely remove references to Rodriguez in the organization's materials -- except as an example of a player who relapsed.

"If anything he becomes an example of how powerful these drugs are," Hooton said. "It still baffles me that one of the best guys that's ever played the game feels the need to go back to these drugs. It's crazy."

An annual event for the foundation held in a suite at Yankee Stadium drew more than 60 donors paying $500 per ticket. There was an auction with items from Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Giants receiver Victor Cruz and others, but nothing from Rodriguez. Hooton said they have items from Rodriguez, but he didn't think it was appropriate to use them.

Still, Hooton looks forward to talking to Rodriguez, who didn't talk to media before Sunday's game.

"We'll welcome the discussion. Honestly, I'd like to find a way to embrace him. I really would. I don't know what that would look like," Hooton said. "But I'd like to begin a dialogue with him."



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