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John Rocker, First Presbyterian Day School-Macon, Georgia phenom, former Atlanta Braves star reliever and hated by New Yorkers for comments about the number 7 train and the minorities that ride on it is in the news yet again. This time, the lefthander says that he failed a drug test in 2000. Rocker made the claim he flunked a drug test ordered by Major League Baseball and that he, Alex Rodriguez and other Texas Rangers were advised by management and union doctors following a spring training lecture on how to effectively use steroids.
"Bud Selig knew in the year 2000, John Rocker was taking the juice," the former pitcher said Monday of the baseball commissioner on Atlanta radio station 680. "Didn't do anything about it." Rocker was suspended for the first 14 days of the 2000 season by Selig for making racial and ethnic remarks to a Sports Illustrated writer that the commissioner deemed insensitive. The penalty, originally set to cover 28 days, was reduced by an arbitrator following a grievance.
"As part of the disciplinary process, Mr. Rocker was referred to the confidential Employee Assistance Program," Major League Baseball said in a statement. "Any test of Mr. Rocker would have been conducted by professionals who ran the EAP. Those professionals were obligated to maintain the confidentiality of the result and to use it in developing a treatment and education program for Mr. Rocker. Further discipline was not an option legally available to Major League Baseball at that time."
Rocker said that doctors from management and the players' association, following a spring training talk with the Texas Rangers about steroids and other topics, pulled himself, A-Rod, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez aside. Rocker was with the Rangers in 2002. "Look guys, if you take one kind of steroid, you don't triple stack them and take them 10 months out of the year like Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos linebacker Lyle Alzado did," Rocker said the doctors told them. "If you do it responsibly, it's not going to hurt you." Since Rocker left baseball, he has been living in the Atlanta area and has made an appearance on the Spike TV reality show " Pros vs. Joes."
Rocker did not identify the doctors. Baseball did not have a drug-testing agreement between management and the players' union until September 2002 and did not have random testing with penalties until 2004. Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' association, declined comment.