NEW YORK — Mark McGwire finally came clean, admitting he used steroids when he broke baseball’s home run record in 1998.
McGwire said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Monday that he used steroids on and off for nearly a decade. During a 20-minute telephone interview shortly afterward, his voice repeatedly cracked.
“It’s very emotional, it’s telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it’s former teammates to try to get a hold of, you know, that I’m coming clean and being honest,” he said. “It’s the first time they’ve ever heard me, you know, talk about this. I hid it from everybody.”
McGwire said he called commissioner Bud Selig and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa earlier in the day to personally apologize.
In an interview with ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight”, La Russa said he didn’t know McGwire had used steroids until the slugger had admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in the phone call to the manager earlier Monday.
“I’m really encouraged that he would step forward,” La Russa told ESPN. “As we go along his explanations will be well received.”
Selig, in a statement released by Major League Baseball on Monday, said he was pleased with McGwire’s admission.
“I am pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player. Being truthful is always the correct course of action, which is why I had commissioned Senator George Mitchell to conduct his investigation. This statement of contrition, I believe, will make Mark’s re-entry into the game much smoother and easier,” Selig said.
McGwire said he also used human growth hormone, and he didn’t know if his use of performance-enhancing drugs contributed to some of the injuries that led to his retirement, at age 38, in 2001.
“That’s a good question,” he said.
He repeatedly expressed regret for his decision to use steroids, which he said was “foolish” and caused by his desire to overcome injuries, get back on the field and prove he was worth his multimillion salary.
“You don’t know that you’ll ever have to talk about the skeleton in your closet on a national level,” he said. “I did this for health purposes. There’s no way I did this for any type of strength use.”
McGwire hit a then-record 70 homers in 1998 during a compelling race with Sammy Sosa, who finished with 66. More than anything else, the home-run spree revitalized baseball following the crippling strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series.
Now that McGwire has come clean, increased glare might fall on Sosa, who has denied using performing-enhancing drugs.
read more on ESPEN.COM