Monday, January 11, 2010

McGwire Admits Steroid Use

Mark McGwire set the record for most home runs as a rookie. He broke the major league record for home runs in a season (to be eclipsed by Barry Bonds), and he now admits to using steroids in the season he hit 70 home runs.

In fact, he took steroids for pretty much the entire decade of the 1990s.
"I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again," McGwire said in his statement. "I used them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season."

McGwire said he took steroids to get back on the field, sounding much like the Yankees' Andy Pettitte two years ago when he admitted using HGH.

"During the mid-'90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years," McGwire said in the statement. "I experienced a lot of injuries, including a ribcage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was definitely a miserable bunch of years, and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and prevent injuries, too."

Since the congressional hearing, baseball owners and players toughened their drug program twice, increasing the penalty for a first steroids offense from 10 days to 50 games in November 2005 and strengthening the power of the independent administrator in April 2008, following the publication of the Mitchell Report.

"Baseball is really different now -- it's been cleaned up," McGwire said. "The commissioner and the players' association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I'm glad they did."
If baseball wants to clean up its act, it needs more big name players to come forward and admit their use. This way we can better judge the results on the field for who did or did not use steroids. So, while McGwire's numbers are gargantuan, they are diminished by his steroid use and puts players who didn't have nearly the numbers in a better light.

Yet, by admitting that he used steroids - by coming clean - McGwire is beginning the process of rehabilitating his image for voters who decide whether players can get admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That's clearly what this admission is geared towards. McGwire is getting another chance here and he has to make the most of it.

It's a position that isn't all that different from what Alex Rodriguez went through at the beginning of the 2009 season, when he admitted to steroid use and managed to put the issue behind him.

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