WWW- President Bush was unaware that some of his players allegedly were using performance-enhancing drugs when he was the general managing partner of the Texas Rangers, the White House said yesterday.
As the Daily News first reported Sunday, Jose Canseco claims in his upcoming book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big,” that he introduced Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez to steroids after he was traded by the Oakland A’s to the Texas Rangers in 1992.
Canseco claims Bush must have known about his players’ illegal drug use but did not address it.
“If there was (steroid use), he was not aware of it at the time,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of Bush. “He has recognized, for some time now, that steroids is a growing problem in professional sports, particularly Major League Baseball. That’s why the President has made addressing the issue a priority in his administration.”
Palmeiro and Gonzalez, meanwhile, denied ever using steroids.
“I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids,” said Palmeiro, now with the Orioles, in a statement released through the Baltimore public relations office yesterday. “At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball.”
The Orioles said Palmeiro has the club’s full support.
“The Orioles will do everything we can to be of assistance to Raffy in meeting these allegations that have no foundation,” owner Peter Angelos said.
“Juan has never used steroids,” said Gonzalez’s agent, Alan Nero. “He’s always been against their use. In 2000, when Major League Baseball did its survey, he was one of only two players who volunteered to be tested at that time.”
Nero said the right fielder, who signed a minor league contract with the Indians earlier this year, felt sorry for Canseco. “Juan’s initial reaction was of disappointment and pity that Jose felt he had to do this. He feels bad for everyone implicated in this,” Nero said.
Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, said he has not seen the book and declined to comment on it.
“Juiced” had been scheduled for a Feb. 21 release, but the New York Times reported last night that HarperCollins has pushed that up by a week, to Monday. Canseco’s scheduled appearance on “60 Minutes,” which was slated for Feb. 20, has been moved up to Sunday, according to the Times.
In the book, now at No. 44 at Amazon.com, Canseco claims he was almost solely responsible for spreading steroid use throughout baseball during the 1990s. He also claims he used steroids with Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi.
Palmeiro says they weren’t even friends, never mind steroid partners. “As I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco, any suggestion that he taught me anything, about steroid use or otherwise, is ludicrous,” Palmeiro said. “We were teammates and that was the extent of our relationship. I am saddened that he felt it necessary to attempt to tarnish my image and that of the game that I love.”