Alex Rodriguez injury and roid issue a problem for anti-steroid crusader Don Hooton
Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Hooton’s son Taylor, a 17-year-old baseball player from Plano, Tex., who committed suicide in 2003. Hooton, who believes his son’s death was linked to steroid use.
By Michael O’keeffe / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, July 13, 2013, 5:22 PM
Alex Rodriguez (r.) shakes hands with Don Hooton after a news conference in 2009 at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Hooton started the Taylor Hooton foundation after his son Taylor died of suspected steroid use.
Don Hooton isn’t ready to declare Alex Rodriguez a doping cheat just yet — but the anti-steroid crusader acknowledges that the embattled Yankee’s links to Biogenesis, the now-defunct Florida anti-aging clinic at the heart of Major League Baseball’s latest drug scandal has put him in an uncomfortable position.
Rodriguez was supposed to host the Taylor Hooton Foundation’s annual fund-raiser at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 11, but he’s been benched because it is not clear if A-Rod — who has missed the first half of the season as he recovers from hip surgery — will have rejoined the big league team by then as he continues his minor league rehab assignment.
What’s more, commissioner Bud Selig soon could suspend players who allegedly received performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, and Hooton admits it would be weird to have Rodriguez speak about the dangers of doping while he’s in MLB’s doghouse.
“With Alex, it is awkward,” Hooton says. “But the jury is still out. A lot of media pundits have already rendered verdicts, but only one verdict counts. Until Major League Baseball decides that there is evidence that warrants a suspension, we will withhold judgment.
“I hope the rumors are not true,” Hooton adds. “Alex has been very supportive of what we are trying to do.”
Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Hooton’s son Taylor, a 17-year-old baseball player from Plano, Tex., who committed suicide in 2003. Hooton, who believes his son’s death was linked to steroid use, created the foundation to battle the use of performance-enhancing drugs by teens and young adults.
Don Hooton testifies during a House Committee hearing investigating performance-enhancing drugs.
“This will be a difficult anniversary, but it will also be a celebration,” Hooton says. “It is good for us to talk about Taylor and carry on this work. I find it healing.”
Hooton said the media’s emphasis on doping in professional sports deflects a much bigger problem: doping by kids. He said a recent University of Minnesota survey of 2,000 middle school and high school students revealed that 5.9 percent of boys and 4.6 percent of girls have used steroids. That indicates 1.5 million teenagers across the nation have used steroids, he said.
“We as a society get so focused on this shiny object — professional athletes — that we forget that steroids pose real dangers to kids,” Hooton says.
His organization, which encourages and trains coaches, parents and others to speak to young people about the consequences of performance-enhancing drug use, hopes to raise $50,000 for its efforts at Yankee Stadium next month.
Hooton said Major League Baseball officials and the Yankees front office — especially president Randy Levine — have been supportive of his efforts. The Yankees are providing a suite at the Stadium for the event.
General manager Brian Cashman and Andy Pettitte — the pitcher who acknowledged using growth hormone on two occasions to accelerate his recovery from injuries — will fill in for the sidelined Rodriguez. Former Yankee stars Roy White and Mickey Rivers will watch the game with the foundation’s guests.
Tickets for the event cost $499 and include a suite ticket to the game against the Detroit Tigers. For information, sponsorships and tickets, call 972-403-7300 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.