Texas manager tested positive for cocaine in 2009

March 17, 2010 2:51:26 PM PDT
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted he made a "huge mistake" when he used cocaine and failed a Major League Baseball drug test last season. In his first public admission, he apologized Wednesday for his behavior, eight months after he told Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who turned down Washington's offer to resign.

"I made a huge mistake and it almost caused me to lose everything I have worked for all of my life," Washington said at a news conference Wednesday. "I am not here to make excuses. There are none."

Washington said he used cocaine only once and called it "stupid" and "shameful."

The failed test was first reported by SI.com.

Washington said he told the commissioner's office and Rangers officials about using cocaine before he had a routine drug test.

"He came forward and said he would resign," Ryan said. "He understood the consequences. We had a lot of discussions and a lot of soul searching on it."

"He stood up to it. We felt like he was sincere and forthright," he said. "We are very disappointed by this. We are upset we were put in this position."

The 57-year-old manager met with his players earlier in the day and told them about testing positive in July.

"He was very emotional, you could tell that he's a broken man from this one bad choice he made," Texas star Josh Hamilton said.

Hamilton has a long history of drug abuse and was suspended for the 2004 season when he was in the minors for Tampa Bay. The All-Star outfielder is the most prominent player in the last decade to be disciplined for a recreational drug.

Hamilton has been outspoken about his crack cocaine habit. He said there were no parallels between his problems and Washington's admission of one-time use.

"I was addicted to drugs. All I cared about was getting more and using more drugs. I didn't care who I hurt," Hamilton said. "This was something of a weak moment, a decision of choice ... Our stories are nothing alike. The fact is he made a mistake. He learned from it very quickly. I made a mistake a few too many times and didn't learn from it."

Washington has been subject to increased testing since he failed, and said he has passed every subsequent test. He said he has completed the MLB drug treatment program.

Management has a different set of drug-testing rules than the ones for players on 40-man rosters that were negotiated by Major League Baseball and the players' association.

For management employees who test positive for cocaine and other recreational drugs -- as opposed to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs -- treatment is mandatory and decisions on discipline are made by the team and MLB on a case by case basis.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, MLB spokesman Rich Levin and players' association head Michael Weiner declined comment on Washington.

Cocaine was baseball's biggest drug problem in the 1980s, when Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez and several other stars were penalized. Steroids and performance-enhancers have been a far bigger focus in the past decade.

Former Boston slugger Butch Hobson lost his job managing Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate during the 1996 season after being caught in a cocaine sting.

Washington's contract was extended last year for 2010 before the drug test. His contract expires after this year, which will be his fourth with Texas. The Rangers, out of the playoffs since 1999, stayed in postseason contention until late in the year and finished 87-75.

"Here's the biggest question: How and why did this happen?" Washington said. "That's a question I have had to face in numerous sessions with counselors."

"I recognize that this episode was an attempt to dodge personal anxieties and personal issues I needed to confront," he said. "That was the wrong way to do it. It was self-serving, and believe me, not worth it. I know you will ask, and so here's the answer: This was the one and only time I used this drug."

Asked whether he believed Washington's explanation, Ryan said: "I don't know the circumstances, but after Major League Baseball investigated it, they came back and felt like it was a one-time incident. Ron expressed that to us."

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said team management was initially "shocked, disappointed, angry" when Washington told them about his drug use.

"We felt it was important he acknowledged doing what he did. That was our first priority," Daniels said.

Washington had been a coach with the Oakland Athletics for 11 years when Texas hired him in November 2006. His only prior managerial experience had been two years in the low minors.

Washington played 10 seasons in the majors, mostly as an infielder for Minnesota in the 1980s.


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