NEW YORK – A drug overdose killed former baseball star Ken Caminiti (search), who admitted using steroids during his playing days and tested positive for cocaine in the days before he died, the city medical examiner ruled Monday.
Coronary artery disease and an enlarged heart were listed as contributing factors in the death of Caminiti, spokeswoman Grace Brugess said. She said the death had been ruled an accident.
The 15-year major league veteran, who won the National League Most Valuable Player (search) award in 1996, admitted in a Houston court just days before he died that he had tested positive for cocaine.
Caminiti, 41, died Oct. 10 in the Bronx.
Tissue and toxicology tests confirmed Caminiti's cause of death as "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of cocaine and opiates," Brugess said. She said those drugs had weakened his heart.
Opiates are drugs that tend to have a sedative effect on the body — as opposed to cocaine, which is marked by rapid heart race and other accelerated effects.
In 2002, Caminiti told Sports Illustrated that he used steroids during his 1996 MVP season, when he hit .326 with 40 home runs and 130 RBIs. He estimated about half of major-league players were also using them at the time.
Caminiti retired in 2001 after a career that included two stints with the Houston Astros (search), four years with the Padres and brief tours with the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.
He returned to baseball this year as a spring training instructor with the Padres. His lawyer said after his death that Caminiti had hoped eventually to mentor young players about avoiding the mistakes he made.