“Yuri Sucart (above, far left) is not a fitness guru – he’s a pudgy middle-aged man who suffers from lower back pain and other health problems” wrote the NY Daily News’ Michael O’Keefe this past Saturday. He’s also the infamous cousin of Alex Rodriguez, implicated/blamed by the Yankee 3B last spring in the aftermath of Selena Roberts’ snooping. And while A-Rod’s achieved a measure of redemption in the eyes of some after bagging Kate Hudson his contributions to the Bombers’ 27th World Championship, O’Keefe paints a portrait far more disturbing than this one.

The cousin Rodriguez claims persuaded him to use steroids from 2001 to 2003 – and then obtained and administered the banned drugs – has not fared so well since A-Rod’s mea culpa moment. Banks began foreclosure proceedings on Yuri Sucart’s Miami home and three South Florida rental properties in the months after Rodriguez’s Feb. 17 news conference.

Perhaps even more disturbing for Sucart, who spent the past 15 years as A-Rod’s anonymous go-fer, his rich and famous cousin dragged him out of the shadows and turned him into another steroid sidekick, much like Roger Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, and Barry Bonds’ boyhood friend Greg Anderson.

Rodriguez has a history of letting others take the blame for his blunders – agent Scott Boras, for for example, took the rap after Rodriguez announced in the middle of the 2007 World Series that he was opting out of his contract with the Yankees. But the idea that an elite ballplayer like A-Rod would use performance-enhancing drugs based on the recommendation of a cousin who spent the past decade laying out his clothes and making dinner reservations strains credibility, and Miami attorney John Ruiz says it was not right for Rodriguez to drag Sucart into his steroid scandal.

Ruiz says that like thousands of other Florida residents struggling to hold onto their homes, Sucart got entangled with banks that offered him mortgage loans he couldn’t pay off. But none of those struggling Floridians works for cousins who made $33 million playing third base for the New York Yankees this year.