North Texas anti-steroids crusade drops ties to A-Rod

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:06 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 11:17 PM

McKINNEY — The phone in his McKinney home never stopped ringing. And Don Hooton never stopped talking.

But he can boil most of it down to two words: Sadness and disappointment.

Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez had been a friend and a fellow fighter in Hooton's crusade. Hooton lost his 17-year-old son to suicide in 2003 after he had taken steroids.

The Hootons started the Taylor Hooton Foundation in their son's name to prevent other kids from using the performance-enhancing drug.

After publicly admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2009, Alex Rodriguez joined the foundation. And now Major League Baseball says while Rodriguez was with Don Hooton preaching against them, he was still using steroids.

"We've traveled up and down the East Coast together talking to thousands of kids, and he's done a great job," Hooton said. He called the Major League revelations "completely opposite of what our message is."

"These drugs are illegal, dangerous. It's cheating," Hooton said. "They're against the rules."

The Taylor Hooton Foundation severed ties with A-Rod on Monday. This Sunday, the organization has a big annual fundraiser scheduled at Yankee Stadium in New York.

"You know, I doubt very seriously I'm gonna run into Alex, but if I did, I'd shake his hand and tell him I'm sorry he's in the pickle he's in and it has been a pleasure working with him," Hooton said. "Under the circumstances, we had no choice but to make this decision to preserve the integrity of our organization."

Hooton hopes moms and dads will use the cases of Rodriguez, Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, and the 11 other Major League players who were suspended for steroid use Monday as a lesson.

He said it's hard to convince kids that steroids are bad when they see their favorite players rise to the top after using them.

But Hooton hopes families take a moment to have a conversation about what steroids are, how bad things can happen when they are used.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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