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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Matthews proclaims that he's never taken HGH

ESPN.com news services

Gary Matthews Jr. finally broke his silence on the Internet performance-enhancing drugs scandal he has been linked to, saying Wednesday that he has never taken human growth hormone.
"I have never taken HGH -- during the 2004 season or any other time."
-- Gary Matthews Jr.

"I have never taken HGH -- during the 2004 season or any other time. Nobody has accused me of doing so, and no law enforcement authority has said I am a target of any investigation for doing so," Matthews said in a statement released by the team.

Angels owner Arte Moreno, general manager Bill Stoneman and manager Mike Scioscia all said they were pleased Matthews finally addressed the issue and that he denied using HGH.

"As an organization, we felt it was important for Gary to address the media regarding his situation," Moreno said in a statement. "Today he honored that request and issued his own statement. Now, it's time for us to continue our preparation and focus on the season ahead."

Matthews explained the delay in his denial by saying he and his representatives needed to determine how he got linked to the story.

"Before saying anything publicly I wanted to make absolutely sure of my ground," said the 32-year-old Matthews, who agreed to a $50 million, five-year contract with the Angels in November. "In particular, I needed to try to learn whether anybody in authority -- in or out of baseball -- felt they had reason to accuse me of anything with regard to HGH. If they did, I would have to deal with that.''

He added: "It has taken me, and those representing me, 16 days to make certain that's not the case. And that is why it has taken longer than I would have preferred to make a public statement."

Scioscia said he senses that Matthews was relieved after issuing the statement through the team Wednesday morning. Matthews then went out and homered in the Angels' 4-3 exhibition victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Scioscia said he hopes the statement will help the team focus on baseball.

"There's been a little anxiety in our organization just waiting for this thing to move forward and hopefully move forward toward being resolved," Scioscia said. "This is a huge step there. That's encouraging."

Matthews allegedly was sent human growth hormone in 2004 from a pharmacy that's part of the widespread steroid investigation.

So far, 20 people have been indicted in the case, and several Florida clinics were raided. They allegedly were part of a scheme to provide prescriptions over the Internet to clients who never actually met with the prescribing physicians. A similar federal prosecution also is under way in Rhode Island.

Athletes linked to the scandal, in various reports, are baseball's Matthews Jr., Jose Canseco, John Rocker, Jerry Hairston Jr., David Bell and Darren Holmes, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Richard Rydze, 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle and bodybuilder Victor Martinez.

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said he was glad Matthews finally addressed the issue and that he denied using HGH.

"We're finding out at the same time you are," Stoneman said. "We're happy to find out that he's saying that he never used HGH. We're an organization that feels there isn't a place in our game for any of these illegal substances. He's denying he ever used something he was linked to."

Commissioner Bud Selig said it would be inappropriate to comment while his office is investigating the case.

HGH was not banned by baseball for players with major league contracts until 2005. This investigation appears to be targeting the suppliers of the substances, not those who might have received anything from the suppliers.

Stoneman said the team had no plans to discipline Matthews. He said it was up to the commissioner's office to determine whether Matthews violated baseball's drug policy.

"My feeling is that as long as this stuff is accurate in what it is and nothing else pops out at some point, we're fine," Stoneman said. "But again, the way it works in baseball is there is a policy between the owners and players that governs these things."

On Wednesday, The Albany, N.Y., district attorney conducting a nationwide dragnet into the illicit sale of steroids and human growth hormone confirmed that he will forward the names of athletes linked to the inquiry to pro sports leagues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.