Baseball -- and all of sports -- will have to grapple with how to police performance-enhancing drugs far into the future.
Mark McGwire did the right thing on Monday, for himself and for baseball. But a giant question mark about performance-enhancing drugs still hangs over baseball (indeed, over all of sports).
Nearly five years after refusing to answer to Congress about his drug use, Mr. McGwire confessed to using steroids. His admission came in a carefully orchestrated confession that began with afternoon interviews with key news media outlets and culminated in an evening sit-down with Bob Costas on Major League Baseball’s own cable channel, MLB.
McGwire now admits that he used steroids on and off throughout his career, including 1998 when he hit a then-record 70 home runs – a mark eclipsed in 2001 by Barry Bonds, whose career has also been tainted by alleged steroids use. Like many other athletes in the past, McGwire says he used steroids to help him recover more quickly from injuries, not as a way to improve his performance.
“I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake,” McGwire said in a statement. “I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
There’s no reason to think his tears and contrition are not heartfelt. They do come, however, after years of seclusion, at a time when McGwire is returning to baseball as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. He was bound to be pounded with questions from sports reporters, embarrassed that they had not uncovered his drug use a decade earlier. By choosing the time and place of his mea culpa, McGwire had a better chance to shape his image going forward.