The New York Times:
January 12, 2010
McGwire Admits That He Used Steroids
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
Five years after famously dodging questions about steroids during a nationally televised Congressional hearing, Mark McGwire admitted on Monday to using them throughout his career.
In a statement released by the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire said that he began using steroids in the late 1980s and used them “on occasion throughout the 1990s,” including the 1998 season, when McGwire captivated the nation by hitting 70 home runs to break the all-time single season record of 61 held by Roger Maris.
McGwire’s statement comes as he prepares to return to baseball as the hitting coach for the Cardinals, the team he played for when he set the home run record.
“Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals,” McGwire said, “I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago. I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize
McGwire said that he briefly used steroids in the off-season before the 1990 season and then resumed using them after he was injured in 1993. McGwire retired after an injury-marred 2001 season, in which he played in only 97 games and hit .187.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” he said in the statement. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said that he was pleased that McGwire had “confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player,” and said that the steroid era had come to an end.
“The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst today’s players has greatly subsided and is virtually non-existent as our testing results have shown,” Selig said. “The so-called “steroid era” — a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances — is clearly a thing of the past, and Mark’s admission today is another step in the right direction.”
Although many anti-doping experts are critical of baseball’s current drug testing program, Selig lauded it as “the toughest and most effective in professional sports” citing only two players testing positive out of more than 3,000 tests in 2009.
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt also lauded McGwire’s admission in a statement.
“On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization, I believe Mark McGwire today did the right thing by telling the truth and openly acknowledging his past mistakes," DeWitt said. “No one condones what Mark did more than 10 years ago, but we hired him as our hitting coach because we know there are many contributions that Mark can and will make to our team and to this game.”
McGwire is one of dozens of players from the past two decades who have been tied to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Last year it was revealed that Sammy Sosa
, who dueled with McGwire for the home run record in 1998, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003
“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids,” McGwire’s statement read. “I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”
McGwire’s statement confirmed what had widely assumed within baseball and what has damaged McGwire’s chances in the last four years of balloting for the Hall of Fame; in none of them, did he come anywhere near the number of votes he needed for induction.
During his career, McGwire admitted using androstenedione, a steroid precursor now banned in baseball and long considered a performance-enhancing drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but McGwire was also tied to the use of steroids in Jose Canseco’s 2005 book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.” Canseco, the former slugger who played with McGwire in the A’s from 1986 to 1991, said that he introduced McGwire to the substances and injected him.
The book tied several players to the use of steroids and depicted a portrait of baseball in which steroid use was rampant. The allegations from Canseco prompted the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a hearing on the issue in March 2005.
At the hearing McGwire did lasting damage to his image when he said: “I’m not here to talk about the past,” when asked about his steroid use and repeatedly declined to address the issue.