Mark McGwire Steroid Use: Apologies Becoming Par for the Course in Sports?

Mark McGwire confirmed rumors, admitted steroid use in 1998 season.

January 11, 2010, 4:29 PM

Jan. 12, 2010— -- Mark McGwire wasn't the first Major League Baseball star to admit using steroids to beef up his performance and some say he definitely won't be the last.

But at a time when sports stars once hailed as the best of the best are found apologizing in front of the camera, it seems saying "I'm sorry" has become a way of life in sports. Now, McGwire is being called out not just for using steroids -- something many suspected for years -- but for claiming the drugs did not enhance his performance.

"It has certainly rubbed people the wrong way," Mike Greenberg of ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" told "Good Morning America" today.

"I would give a B- for the way he handled this," Greenberg said. "Is he sorry because he got caught and had to go public, or sorry for what he did? That's a story for another day."

In a statement released Monday by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he is slated to start as the hitting coach in the spring, McGwire said he "always knew this day would come."

"It's the most regrettable thing I have ever done in my life," McGwire told MLB Television. "I have been wanting to come clean ever since 2005, and I didn't know where, when and how. I have just been holding this in."

He said he began using steroids in the late 1980s, on occasion in the 1990s, but definitely in 1998 when he broke the home run record by hitting 70 home runs in a single season, breaking the record of 61 previously held by Roger Maris.

That moment invigorated the national pastime, which was still recovering from the fallout of the 1994 baseball strike. The famed head-to-head race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who finished the season with 66 home runs, was followed by millions of baseball fans around the country.

Greenberg said hearing McGwire's apology was not surprising.

"It's a combination of fed up and numb," he said.

McGwire couched his admission by saying he initially took the steroids for health purposes and that he would have had no problem reaching the home run record without the drug. It was a statement that Greenberg's co-host, Mike Golic, said McGwire could have done without.

"This is an apology. Leave it at that," Golic told "Good Morning America." "Don't say 'I'm sorry, but ?' Leave the 'but' out of it."

And Golic said he's not buying the assertion the McGwire's strength was unaffected by the steroid use.

"It definitely helps you," he said, adding that it "basically ruins your apology."

There had been whispers about McGwire and his bulging muscles for years, but he dodged questions from reporters and even Congress in 2005. McGwire refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing on steroid use, at that time saying, "I'm not here to talk about the past."

Mark McGwire: 'I Wish I Had Never Touched Steroids'

An emotional McGwire told The Associated Press that he worried that being honest that day would put him in legal jeopardy. McGwire said that by fessing up, "I'm throwing my whole family, closest friends and other people that were with me. I'm putting them in something for an act that I did."

Monday, in his statement, he said, "I want to come clean."

McGwire said he took steroids to get back on the field following a series of injuries in the early '90s. "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."

The 46-year-old McGwire, who retired in 2001, has become the second star baseball player in less than a year to admit using illegal steroids. Last February, the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez admitted to using the drugs. But he is only one of dozens of players over the past two decades who has admitted to steroid use.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement Monday, saying that he is "pleased that Mark McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player," and that McGwire's admission "will make Mark's re-entry into the game much smoother and easier."

But the truth might be too late for some fans, and Hall of Fame voters who have turned their backs on McGwire.

Buster Olney, senior writer for "ESPN The Magazine" told ABC News, "I don't think this is going to change the way people feel about McGwire, because I think within the baseball community, it was widely assumed he used performance-enhancing drugs."

So why talk now? McGwire disappeared from the public eye following his retirement as a player after the 2001 season. ESPN reports that when the Cardinals hired the 47-year-old as coach on Oct. 26, they said he would address questions before spring training, and Monday's statement broke his silence.

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