McGwire Admits to Steroid Use During Record-Setting Season

BY Chris Amico  January 11, 2010 at 5:28 PM EDT

Baseball slugger Mark McGwire admitted Monday that he was on steroids when he broke the major league single-season home run record in 1998.

McGwire admitted to more than a decade of use “during a 20-minute telephone interview, his voice repeatedly cracking,” the Associated Press reported.

“It’s very emotional, it’s telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it’s former teammates to try to get ahold 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 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.”

UPDATE 6:20 p.m. ET | Hari Sreenivasan got some perspective on McGwire’s admission from Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell.

As ESPN notes, six of the top 15 home run hitters of all time have admitted to or been linked to using performance-enhancing drugs: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez.

Here is the statement McGwire issued Monday:

“Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, 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. 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 ’90s, 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.

During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years. 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.

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.

I’m grateful to the Cardinals for bringing me back to baseball. I want to say thank you to Cardinals owner Mr. DeWitt, to my GM, John Mozeliak, and to my manager, Tony La Russa. I can’t wait to put the uniform on again and to be back on the field in front of the great fans in Saint Louis. I’ve always appreciated their support and I intend to earn it again, this time as hitting coach. I’m going to pour myself into this job and do everything I can to help the Cardinals hitters become the best players for years to come.

After all this time, I want to come clean. I was not in a position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.”