Tuesday, September 27, 2005 Updated: September 28, 11:26 AM ET
Mark McGwire's opening statement
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for having me. My name is Mark McGwire. I played the game of baseball since I was 9 years old. I was privileged to be able to play 15 years in the major leagues. I even had the honor of representing my country in the 1984 Olympic baseball team. I love and respect our national pastime. I will do everything in my power to help the game, its players and fans.
Mark McGwire made an emotional address before answering questions on Capitol Hill.
First and foremost, my heart goes out to every parent whose son or daughter were victims of steroid use. I hope that these hearings can prevent other families from suffering. I admire the parents who had the courage to appear before the committee and warn the dangers of steroid use. My heart goes out to them. When I was lucky enough to secure my last major-league contract, one of the first things I did was establish a foundation and donate $3 million of my own money to support abused children. I applaud the work of the committee in exposing this problem so the dangers are clearly understood.
There has been a problem with steroid use in baseball. Like any sport where there is pressure to perform at the highest level and there has been no testing to control performance-enhancing drugs, problems develop. It is a problem, and that needs to be addressed. Most importantly, every Little Leaguer, Pony League, high school, college player needs to understand that performance-enhancing drugs of any kind can be dangerous. I will use whatever influence and popularity that I have to discourage young athletes from taking any drug that is not recommended by a doctor.
What I will not do, however, is participate in naming names and implicating my friends and teammates. I retired from baseball four years ago. I live a quiet life with my wife and children. I've always been a team player. I have never been a person who spread rumors or said things about teammates that could hurt them. I do not sit in judgment of other players, whether it deals with their sexual preference, their marital problems or other personal habits, including whether or not they use chemical substance. That has never been my style, and I do not intend to change this just because the cameras are turned on, nor do I intend to dignify Mr. Canseco's book. It should be enough that you consider the source of the statements in the book and that many inconsistencies and contradictions have already been raised.
I've been advised that my testimony here could be used to harm friends and respected teammates, or that some ambitious prosecutor can use convicted criminals who would do and say anything to solve their own problems and create jeopardy for my friends. Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers no, he simply will not be believed. If he answers yes, he risks public scorn and endless government investigations. My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself. I intend to follow their advice.
It is my understanding that major league baseball and the players union have taken steps to address the steroid issue. If these policies need to be strengthened, I would support that. I appreciate the difficult job you have as congressmen and congresswomen and will use this opportunity to dedicate myself to this problem. I am directing my foundation to concentrate its efforts to educate children regarding dangers, dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. I am also offering to be spokesman for major league baseball and the Players' Association to convince young athletes to avoid dangerous drugs of all sorts.
Thank you very much.