Thursday, March 18, 2010
Washington reveals past drug use
ESPN.com news services
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A day after apologizing for using cocaine last season, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said that he used amphetamines and marijuana during his playing career.
Washington was randomly selected for a drug test by Major League Baseball last summer and tested positive for cocaine. After learning he failed that test, Washington told ESPN's Pedro Gomez that he informed the Rangers of his amphetamine use.
Later Thursday, Washington told ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett that he used marijuana "a few times" during the early stages of his minor league playing days.
"It was not an ongoing thing," Washington said. "I was young and didn't know better."
Washington did not specify how often he used amphetamines during his 10-year career in the majors, which ended in 1989 with the Houston Astros. He spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Twins.
"I wasn't the only one, but I'm not going to name names," Washington told Gomez. "Amphetamines were prevalent throughout baseball."
The 2005 drug agreement between owners and the Major League Baseball Players' Association calls for random amphetamine testing. Amphetamines were not banned during Washington's playing days.
"I made some mistakes in my younger days and I just want to get past it," Washington said. "I want to move forward."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Washington would keep his job. He said the team was aware Washington used drugs as a player.
"I think there's a distinction between what people do in their youth versus later in life," Daniels said. "I'm sure there are things we all have in our past we're not proud of.
"Ron could have avoided the question or lied. He chose not too. I'm not going to punish a guy for being honest. That doesn't excuse the behavior, but that's the reality."
All-Star third baseman Michael Young, the team's longest-tenured player, said what Washington did as a player was a non-issue in his eyes. He said discussion about amphetamine use among players in the 1970s and 1980s was a "slippery slope."
"We're hopeful this will bring us together, and we can rally around each other a little more," Young said. "Asking about dissension or a distraction, it's a fair question. But it's not relevant in this clubhouse. We have a solid group of guys in here and they're not going to judge somebody on a mistake and not on their worst moment."
All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton, whose own drug troubles have been well chronicled, reiterated Thursday that he appreciated Washington's approach.
"The way he has handled the situation, I have more respect for him now," Hamilton said. "He didn't hide behind anything, didn't make excuses. He was honest and that's a quality you want in a leader, somebody who recognizes the mistakes and can tell you about them so you can learn from it."
Washington said Wednesday he used cocaine only once and called it "stupid behavior," adding he offered to resign as Rangers manager last July when MLB randomly selected him for a drug test. He will keep his job.
"I had a very weak moment," Washington said at a news conference Wednesday. "I did wrong and I take responsibility for that and I'm sorry."
The 57-year-old manager met with his players earlier in the day and told them about testing positive in July.
In a Thursday piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, columnist Randy Galloway, citing numerous sources within the Rangers organization, said a since-fired team employee knew of Washington's "situation." Using that knowledge, the individual tried to blackmail the Rangers, Galloway said.
When asked via text message by ESPNDallas.com if the Rangers were blackmailed, or if information was used as leverage against the team, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels responded, "No."
Upon receiving results of the 2009 test, Washington immediately entered into MLB's drug program, which included testing three times a week. He completed the program a few weeks ago, but said he will ask the league to continue to test him.
"I was in total shock. Then I was mad," Rangers president Nolan Ryan told ESPNDallas.com, in reference to his initial reaction to Washington's positive test. "Then I was very disappointed. I went through an array of emotions."
But after "a lot of soul-searching" Ryan said the club decided to allow Washington to remain as manager. The team had picked up his option for 2010 before he used cocaine and tested positive.
Earlier Thursday, outgoing Rangers owner Tom Hicks said the club would have "zero tolerance going forward" for Washington in regards to drug use. Incoming owner Chuck Greenberg said he supported the club's decision to retain Washington.
Richard Durrett from ESPNDallas.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.