Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is certain on this point: ''I never knowingly took any steroids.'' And this, too: ''I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.''
The remarks by the 39-year-old designated hitter came in a column Thursday for The Players' Tribune, a website founded by Derek Jeter that gives professional athletes a platform.
Ortiz also voiced his displeasure that he will ''always be considered a cheater'' to his detractors. He contends that nobody in baseball has been tested more often for performance-enhancing drugs - more than 80 times since 2004.
''I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will,'' Ortiz wrote.
In 2009, the New York Times reported Ortiz was on a list of 104 players who allegedly tested positive during Major League Baseball's 2003 survey of steroid use - results that were supposed to be anonymous. Ortiz later said he wound up on the list because he used nutritional supplements and was careless about their contents.
''Most guys were taking over-the-counter supplements then. Most guys are still taking over-the-counter supplements. If it's legal, ballplayers take it,'' Ortiz wrote. ''Why? Because if you make it to the World Series, you play 180 games. Really think about that for a second. 180 games. Your kids could be sick, your wife could be yelling at you, your dad could be dying - nobody cares.
''Nobody cares if you have a bone bruise in your wrist or if you have a pulled groin. You're an entertainer. The people want to see you hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball over a damn 37-foot wall.''
Ortiz said he had two drug testers arrive early at his house in the Dominican Republic one day over the offseason. His kids are so used to them showing up, he said, they were laughing and taking pictures as the testers drew Ortiz's blood in the kitchen. Ortiz said to them: ''Let me tell you something. The only thing you're going to find in my blood is rice and beans.''
Added Ortiz: ''In some people's minds, I will always be considered a cheater,'' emphasizing his point with an expletive.
Ortiz is a .285 hitter with 466 career homers and 1,533 RBIs. He believes his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy.
''I've won three World Series since MLB introduced comprehensive drug testing. I've performed year after year after year. But if a bunch of writers who have never swung a bat want to tell me it's all for nothing, OK. Why do they write my legacy?'' Ortiz wrote. ''In 75 years, when I'm dead and gone, I won't care if I'm in the Hall of Fame. I won't care if a bunch of baseball writers know the truth about who I am in my soul and what I have done in this game. I care that my children know the truth.''
Big Papi said his mental preparation was one of his biggest attributes.
''They're only going to remember my power,'' Ortiz wrote. ''They're not going to remember the hours and hours and hours of work in the film room. They're not going to remember the BP. They're not going to remember me for my intelligence.
''Despite all I've done in this game, I'm just the big DH from the Dominican. They turn you into a character, man.''