Don Hooton ‘disappointed and saddened’ in Alex Rodriguez
The president of the Taylor Hooton foundation – which works to eliminate steroid use among teens – says in a statement that his concern is that the public is more interested in the use of steroids in athletes, rather than the 1.5 million kids using illegal drugs.
The Biogenesis scandal was churning along full steam last July 13, with commissioner Bud Selig a month away from lowering the boom on Alex Rodriguez with an historic 211-game suspension.
Don Hooton, the president of the non-profit Taylor Hooton Foundation, which is named in honor of his late son, told the Daily News then that he found himself and the foundation he runs in a somewhat “awkward” situation.
Rodriguez had been “very supportive of” the foundation, according to Hooton, and he was reluctant to cast any negative comments about A-Rod until a verdict was in. The foundation is devoted to educating young kids about the dangers of steroid and performance-enhancing drugs.
“With Alex, it is awkward,” Don Hooton said in July. “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.”
Saturday, independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz delivered the verdict, and it was not pretty for Rodriguez: a 162-game ban and the 2014 postseason.
Hooton told The News Sunday that his emotions were a mixture of “bewilderment” and disappointment about A-Rod’s case. Hooton’s son, Taylor, committed suicide in 2003, and Don Hooton believes his son’s death was linked to steroid use. After Rodriguez admitted to doping the first time in 2009, he met with Don Hooton after his Tampa press conference and pledged his help to the organization.
“After Alex got caught in the trap the first time, he did his mea culpa in Tampa,” Hooton told The News. “It’s beyond me why athletes of his caliber, why he felt the need to go back to these drugs. In my opinion, it’s a testament to the addictive powers of these drugs. There’s an allure of what these drugs can do for them.”
Hooton had issued a statement Sunday, that said in part: “As I said at the time of Major League Baseball’s suspension of Alex Rodriguez last August, I am disappointed and saddened by the decisions Alex has made that led to this ruling. The Taylor Hooton Foundation fully supports the efforts made by Major League Baseball to eradicate illegal anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs from the game.”
Hooton said Sunday that he had not contacted A-Rod recently — “All the advisers that I work with advised me from a protocol standpoint, that Alex needs to be reaching out to us,” said Hooton — but that at some point he looked forward to the chance to sit down with the embattled slugger. Hooton said he was concerned for the A-Rod’s long-term health, if Rodriguez does have any kind of addiction problem.
“Everyone is focused on the firestorm, which they should be, but I express general concern for Alex in the future — particularly his health,” said Hooton. “I’m concerned at some point he will pay a physical price. It’s debatable, but there is also the question of psychological addiction — the need for these drugs, because an athlete thinks they can’t perform without them.”
Hooton was in Miami Sunday, but not for the reasons people think (Rodriguez lives in Miami). Hooton spent Friday talking with Florida athletic directors about the dangers of steroid use and will talk at St. Thomas University Monday. Hooton reiterated that the country’s “focus on the shiny objects” — i.e., the high-profile athletes who gets busted for doping — detracts from the larger issue, in his mind, the high percentage of young adults and kids who are using PEDs.
“The antenna has been raised with athletic directors here, and significantly so after the Biogenesis case,” said Hooton. “Drugs are finding their way into high schools, and we’ve been down here taking about how to deal with that. I’ve seen the devastation these drugs can do.”