Canseco Creams A-Rod

The Alex Rodriguez steroid saga is a homegrown fiasco. It first got legs last April, when Miami-raised Cuban exile and artificial baseball humanoid José Canseco published Vindicated, a finger-pointing tome that claimed Westminster Christian alum and University of Miami friend-with-benefits Rodriguez had grown huge through juice.

According to the book, Weston resident Canseco had introduced workout buddy Rodriguez to a local personal trainer, and known steroids dealer, whom he referred to only as "Max."

"I may not have seen him do the deed, but I set the whole thing up for him, just like he wanted," Canseco wrote in his trademark florid prose.

"I saw the changes in his body in a short time. Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself."

Soon after the book's publication, Sports Illustrated identified "Max" as a man named Joseph Dion. "I hear he wrote a whole bunch of lies," the 50-year-old trainer — who hasn't read the book — seethes during a recent phone interview. "My life is so clean I don't even take vitamins."

Dion, who is now based at House of Fitness on South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest, used to train scads of Major Leaguers, including former Marlin Alex Gonzalez. But since the story broke, much of his professional client base has dried up. His $100-per-hour expertise is now reserved mostly for the anonymous wealthy and their children, including a gaggle of soccer and baseball players from nearby Gulliver Prep.

When Rodriguez's positive 'roid test results were leaked earlier this month, the private-minded Dion was thrown once again into the eye of a national media shitstorm.

But the flash-bulb tornado has since journeyed elsewhere — to Kendall, home of Yuri Sucart, Rodriguez's cousin, whom A-Rod fingered in a press conference as providing him with the steroid. Dion is not going to hold his breath waiting for an apology from the media, but he isn't gloating either. In fact, he was unaware of the Sucart revelation until Riptide called him. "I don't pay attention to any of the stuff," he says. "I'm in my own world, working hard. Actually, no offense, but I think this is going to be my last interview with anybody."

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Gus Garcia-Roberts