MLB: Alex Rodriguez won '07 MVP after testosterone exemption

10:05 p.m. EDT July 2, 2014   Suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez received permission by baseball officials to use testosterone during his 2007 MVP season, a person with knowledge of the exemption told USA TODAY Sports.

The person was unauthorized to speak publicly about the exemption since he was not granted permission by Rodriguez, Major League Baseball or the Major League Players Association to discuss it.

The exemption was revealed in a transcript of Rodriguez's grievance hearing in August when he appealed his original 211-game suspension, according to a new book, Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era, with excerpts published by Sports Illustrated. Rodriguez was one of two players that season who were granted therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for "'androgen deficiency medications.'' He received the exemption two days before the start of spring training.

In the grievance hearing, MLB entered into evidence several exemptions that Rodriguez requested since joining the Yankees, according to the book excerpt. MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred called testosterone "the mother of all anabolics" and said that exemptions for the substance are "very rare," partly because "some people who have been involved in this field feel that with a young male, healthy young male, the most likely cause of low testosterone requiring this type of therapy would be prior steroid abuse."

There were three MLB players who received exemptions for hypogonadism in 2013, a condition in which the body does not produce sufficient testosterone.

Rodriguez, who hit a major-league leading 54 homers with 156 RBI during that 2007 season, opted out of his contract after that season and signed a record 10-year, $275 million contract.

Rodriguez, who has been suspended from baseball this season for using performance-enhancing drugs from his association with the now-defunct Biogenesis Clinic, applied for two other exemptions in 2008. He was given permission to use Clomid, according to the book, which is prescribed to men who suffer from hypogonadism. But he was denied permission to use human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is used for weight loss while also producing testosterone.

"All decisions regarding whether a player shall receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) under the Joint Drug Program are made by the Independent Program Administrator (IPA) in consultation with outside medical experts, with no input by either the Office of the Commissioner or the Players Association,'' MLB officials said in a statement. "The process is confidentially administered by the IPA, and MLB and the MLBPA are not even made aware of which players applied for TUEs.

"The TUE process under the Joint Drug Program is comparable to the process under the World Anti-Doping Code. The standard for receiving a TUE for a medication listed as a performance-enhancing substance is stringent, with only a few such TUEs being issued each year by the IPA. MLB and the MLBPA annually review the TUE process to make sure it meets the most up-to-date standards for the issuance of TUEs.

"As recommended by the Mitchell Report, since 2008 MLB and the MLBPA have publicly issued the IPA's annual report, which documents how many TUEs were granted for each category of medication. We believe this high level of transparency helps to ensure the proper operation of the TUE process."

Rodriguez, who's still owed $61 million through 2017 and is eligible to be reinstated next season, declined comment, according to his spokesman, Ron Berkowitz.

"We have turned the page from this,'' Berkowitz said in a statement, "and are looking toward 2015 and getting back on the field.''


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