Mark McGwire Admits Steroid Use, What Does it Mean?


Mark McGwire admitted today on the Major League Baseball official website that “I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize.” McGwire confirmed what many had long suspected, ever since his 70 home runs in 1998 broke Roger Maris’ 1961 record of 61 homers. But what does McGwire’s confession mean now?

Will his words “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake” have a positive impact on other athletes—especially young and up-and-coming men and women in sports—and make them think twice about using steroids? McGwire concluded his statement that he sent to the Associated Press by saying, “I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

Just because McGwire played during the so-called steroid era did not mean he had to use steroids; he apparently chose to do so. Many athletes did not and still do not use steroids.

In an article by Robert Schlesinger in US News & World Report from July 26, 2009, he commented on the fact that it was baseball’s Hall of Fame induction day, and that “the steroid becomes eligible. Mark McGwire has been eligible for a couple of years now, without making the cut.” He noted that McGwire was on the “leading edge of a generation that will, in 15 or so years, wind down when Alex ‘A-Roid’ Rodriguez becomes eligible.” Schlesinger then asks the question as to how Hall of Fame voters should handle the steroid era.


Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame pitcher, commented that “Major League Baseball must set an example so that children and young athletes don’t see steroids as a way to get ahead of the competition.” This seems like a reasonable and responsible response to the steroid debate. Steroid use is associated with serious, life-threatening side effects.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of steroids can lead to aggression (roid-rage) and extreme mood swings, delusions, paranoid jealousy, and extreme irritability. Health problems associated with steroid abuse include liver damage, high blood pressure, unhealthy changes in cholesterol, renal failure, severe acne, trembling, fluid retention, and jaundice.

Gender specific adverse effects in men include shrinking testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Among women, steroid use can cause growth of facial hair, baldness, enlargement of the clitoris, deepened voice, and changes in the menstrual cycle. Among adolescents, steroid use can result in stunted growth and the risk of not reaching one’s expected height.

Steve Lyons, a former baseball pro who turned announcer, stated in Schlesinger’s article that the steroid scandal in baseball is a bore, “An important bore that has put a black eye on the sport, to be sure, but a bore nevertheless.” Perhaps Lyons is right, and that McGwire felt he could come clean about his steroid use because the issue is becoming a bore. If so, maybe young amateur athletes, as well as professionals, will not be so interested in trying steroids.

If steroid use is indeed becoming a bore, perhaps other suspected steroid users in baseball and other sports will be coming forward soon as well. Many have suspected Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader in baseball, of using steroids. Will Mark McGwire’s admission to using steroids start a run on confessions? Will steroid use become so boring that we return to the days when athletes were appreciated for their natural abilities?

Epoch Times, Jan. 11, 2010
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Schlesinger, Robert. US News & World Report, July 26, 2009