Mark McGwire has admitted taking steroids in 1998 when he broke Roger Maris' home run record.
"I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize," McGwire said in his statement. "I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the nineties, including during the 1998 season. I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.
"I'm sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. 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. Baseball is really different now -- it's been cleaned up. The Commissioner and the Players Association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I'm glad they did."
McGwire is entering his first season as the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, and his return to baseball prompted his admission. "It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected," McGwire said. That echoes the phrase he used repeatedly during a Congressional inquiry into steroids in baseball in 2005, when he stonewalled questions about whether he had ever used steroids by saying, "I'm not here to talk about the past."
McGwire then went into seclusion for several years before being hired at the end of last season as the Cardinals' new hitting coach.
"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," said Bill DeWitt, the Cardinals Chairman. "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 played 16 seasons in the majors with Oakland and St. Louis. He retired after the 2001 season having hit 583 home runs, which still ranks tied for eighth in major league history. His 10.61 at bats/home run is the best ever.
Tony La Russa, the Cardinals manager who hired McGwire as hitting coach and who managed McGwire with both the A's and the Cardinals, told MLB Network he did not feel duped by his former slugger, adding, "It's not excusable, it's a mistake but the perception of Mark when he played was he's a really solid individual and a great teammate and I think that will be restored."
La Russa said he first found out when McGwire spoke to him Monday morning.
Commissioner Bud Selig said he was "pleased" by McGwire's admission, adding, "This statement of contrition I believe will make Mark's re-entry into the game much smoother and easier."
Steroids have been banned in baseball since 1991, but it wasn't until 2003 that baseball began random survey testing of players that was meant to remain anonymous. Testing with punishment was not instituted until the following year. McGwire's admission is the latest in a series of drug revelations that have plagued baseball in the past 12 months, beginning with a report in Sports Illustrated last February that Alex Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids in 2003. In May, it was announced that Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers had failed a drug test and was suspended for 50 games. In June, Sammy Sosa, who had been McGwire's companion during their unforgettable chase of Maris' home run record in 1998, was revealed to have been on that 2003 list of failed tests, and in July Ramirez and Red Sox slugger David Ortiz were named from that list as well.
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