Rangers manager Ron Washington admits cocaine use

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by CRAIG CIVALE / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on March 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 17 at 8:50 PM

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted Wednesday that he used cocaine during the 2009 season.

He said he told team management about it before Major League Baseball test results that might have been positive.

In a repentant and at times emotional statement to reporters at the team's spring training headquarters in Surprise, Arizona, Washington denied that he has a drug problem, but said that this was a one-time mistake that he made.

The admission came as a huge disappointment to team officials, who said they were aware of it last season, but decided to keep Washington on as manager.

"I made a huge mistake, and it almost caused me to lose everything," Washington said while reading from a prepared text. "I'm truly sorry for my careless, dangerous, and quite frankly, stupid behavior last year."

Washington that after he used cocaine, he was given a random drug test by the league. Knowning he he would fail the test, Washington said he confessed the drug use to the league; then he contacted the Rangers' front office.

"Initially, we were shocked... disappointed... angry," said Jon Daniels, the team's general manager.

Washington offered his resignation, but team president Nolan Ryan gave him a second chance. "I hope our fans understand," Ryan said. "We were very disappointed by this; we were upset that we were put in this position."

On Wednesday night, Washington managed his team in an exhibition game against the Seattle Mariners. Earlier in the day, he met with players earlier to tell 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 so-called 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."

Hamilton said he could understand how a 57-year-old man could use the drug only once.

"You either like it or you don't like it. Either you do it once or you do it more than once," Hamilton said. "That's the way it is. I know people from my past that have done it once with me and have not liked, have not cared for it."

Sports talk shows sounded off on Washington's revelation. Radio personality and longtime columnist Randy Galloway talked about the impact on the team.

"The Rangers didn't need this; nobody needs this," Galloway said. "Ron Washington will continue to keep his job. There seems to be a lot of opinions on should he or should he not."

And around the ballpark in Arlington, fans showed their disappointment in a man who was supposed to lead the team — not cause such a distraction.

"I believe in a second chance, but leading a big-league ballclub such as the Rangers? I just think there's really no room in it for that type of situation," one fan said.

Washington said he underwent a mandated drug treatment program, which included counseling and drug tests three times a week.

He has completed that program, but said he intends on getting back into a substance abuse program in the weeks ahead.

Major League Baseball managers were not tested for drugs until two years ago. Testing them was among many recommendations that came out of the 2007 Mitchell Report, an investigation led by Sen. George Mitchell into steroid and drug use among players.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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