Mark McGwire confirmed long-held suspicions today, admitting he used steroids during his playing career, in an interview with the Associated Press. McGwire had previously denied this publicly.
“I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come,” McGwire said in a statement issue today and posted on ESPN. “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 he first used steroids following the the 1989 season, briefly, and then in earnest beginning in 1993, including his record-setting 70 home run year in 1998. He said he used off and on for a decade. A source close to McGwire told ESPN he also used human growth hormone. McGwire said he used drugs, in part, to recover from injuries.
“You don’t know that you’ll ever have to talk about the skeleton in your closet on a national level,” he told the AP. “I did this for health purposes. There’s no way I did this for any type of strength use.”
McGwire said he decided to come clean after becoming the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Bud Selig and Tony La Russa were among those who praised the move Monday.
“I’m really encouraged that he would step forward,” said La Russa, who McGwire called to apologize to on Monday. “As we go along his explanations will be well received.”
During the 1998 season, McGwire stood silent while an Associated Press reporter, Steve Wilstein, was criticized by the baseball world and other journalists for reporting his use of androstenedione. At the start of the year, McGwire also lied in a March 23, 1998 Sports Illustrated cover story, written by Tom Verducci.
Many, including opposing players, believe he uses steroids. He denies the charge. Vehemently.
“Never,” says McGwire, though he admits he’ll “take anything that’s legal,” meaning dietary supplements. “It sort of boggles my mind when you hear people trying to discredit someone who’s had success. Because a guy enjoys lifting weights and taking care of himself, why do they think that guy is doing something illegal? Why not say, ‘This guy works really, really hard at what he does, and he’s dedicated to being the best he can be.’ I sure hope that’s the way people look at me.”
Personally, I remember reading that quote when it was new, and it’s bothered me since the andro controversy. I’m glad McGwire has decided to finally get honest. It takes guts to man up on a national stage, particularly when he had no reason he had to do so. Still, this all somehow seems like too little, too late.