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La Russa: "I think he was overcoached"

JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was
surprised by Mark McGwire's repeated refusals to deny using
steroids during testimony before a congressional committee.

McGwire has denied using illegal performance-enhancing drugs but
refused to do so under oath Thursday, citing advice from his
lawyer.

"In my opinion, being under oath wouldn't have changed what he
said," La Russa said Friday. "I think he was overcoached. Mostly,
I think it was a missed opportunity to explain that if you use
substances like creatine and over-the-counter stuff that's not
illegal, you can get the benefits of a hard-core weight training
program. And that was never discussed. You can get bigger and
stronger doing this legally, and I didn't hear that."

La Russa managed McGwire on both the Oakland Athletics and the
Cardinals. La Russa says he believes McGwire's denials.

"He's made a statement where he's denied it, and I thought it
was a great time to make that same statement," La Russa said. "I
think he was kind of coached into saying this one thing, 'I'm here
about the future, not about the past.' I was surprised he didn't
repeat what he said earlier. I think it would have helped his
cause."

La Russa admits that he's biased toward McGwire because of their
friendship.

"It's impossible to separate myself from what I know of how
hard he worked and how he developed," La Russa said. "Could I
have an opinion if I was just a fan? Yeah, he looked uncomfortable
the whole time. But then, I saw him uncomfortable in 1998 when
people asked him questions and he was just shy and wanted to hide
from them."