Orioles second baseman admitted last night that he used steroids "once," in 2003, but said he hasn't used them or any other performance-enhancing drugs since.
He was silent for four days after his name appeared in former Sen. George J. Mitchell's scathing report on steroid use in major league baseball. But last night Roberts issued a statement, which was provided to The Sun, that read:
"In 2003, when I took one shot of steroids, I immediately realized that this was not what I stood for or anything that I wanted to continue doing. I never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing drugs prior to or since that single incident. I can honestly say before God, myself, my family and all of my fans that steroids or any performance-enhancing drugs have never had any effect on what I have worked so hard to accomplish in the game of baseball. I am very sorry and I deeply regret ever making that terrible decision. My only hope and prayer is that the Orioles, my family, friends and fans that have supported me so faithfully will forgive me."
Roberts, 30, was among 19 current or former Orioles named in the Mitchell Report, but he was clearly the biggest name among the team's fans, who have watched him emerge into a two-time All-Star and the face of the franchise. His boy-next-door looks were popular with young female fans and his overall graciousness and humility made him perhaps the club's most beloved player since Cal Ripken Jr.
Roberts' inclusion in the report was a result of testimony by former Orioles teammate Larry Bigbie, who recalled to Mitchell investigators a conversation with Roberts in 2004 in which the second baseman allegedly admitted injecting himself with steroids "once or twice" in 2003.
Roberts was given the opportunity to speak with investigators, but he declined. He said last night that he harbors no ill will toward Bigbie, whom he said he hasn't spoken to since the report was released.
"I'm not mad at Larry. I don't hate Larry. Larry is one of my good friends," said Roberts, who acknowledged that he spoke yesterday to Orioles owner Peter Angelos about his intentions, but declined to elaborate on the conversation.
"Obviously from the report, what I gathered was Larry was in a situation where he was asked a question and he had to tell the truth. Larry and I must have had a conversation about it at some point and he thought he remembered. I don't resent Larry, I'm not mad at Larry. It boils down to me, not Larry. I have no problems there."
Roberts hadn't returned several calls from The Sun after the Mitchell Report was released Thursday. Asked why he chose last night to break his silence, Roberts said it just became too difficult to ignore the topic.
"For me, it boils down to the fact that my faith, my beliefs and what I believe is right was wearing on me," Roberts said. "To not be able to look someone in the eye, to avoid phone calls and to deal with it that way, it's just not the right thing to do. I can't live my life that way. I've never been able to live it that way, and I never will. I've always been an honest person and I haven't been able to say things. I'm tired of it. That's what essentially has led me to really need to do this."
The Mitchell Report is the second time that Roberts has been implicated in baseball's steroid scandal. The Los Angeles Times reported in September 2006 that former Orioles reliever Jason Grimsley named Roberts, along with outfielder and former Orioles shortstop , in a federal affidavit as steroid users.
At the time, Roberts said: "We've had steroid testing, and I've taken all the tests."
Asked last night whether he was concerned that some fans might not believe that he tried steroids just once, Roberts said that was beyond his control.
"I think people are going to believe whatever they want to believe," he said. "One of the other reasons I made this statement is if I'm going to have people judging me or people are going to make accusations, then I wanted them to have the facts. Then they can treat me however they feel is necessary. I will never try and diminish what happened, ever. I know I made a wrong choice, but I basically wanted to make sure people knew the truth and they can make their own decisions from there."
Roberts, who is listed in the Orioles media guide as 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, overcame a congenital heart condition as a child to become a first-round draft pick by the Orioles in 1999. He became an everyday player in 2004 and a year later started for the American League in the All-Star Game. He suffered a career-threatening arm injury at the end of the 2005 season, but proved that he had made it all the back this past season, when he hit .290 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs, tied for the American League lead with 50 steals and made his second All-Star team.
Last night, Roberts declined to elaborate on why he made the decision to try steroids, choosing instead to focus on his statement.
"I always knew what I believed in," Roberts said. "The bottom line was, in a moment of weakness, I made a decision that I knew wasn't right from the beginning. My size, my ability, whatever it was, none of that is any reasoning for making a decision like that.
"I'm relieved in some ways. Any time you put yourself out there in the bright spotlight in public, you never know what will come of it. I'm human. Yeah, I have fears. It's not an easy thing to do. But I won't let that ruin what I've worked for and where I've gotten to and the kind of person I want to continue to be."