On January 10, 2010, Mark McGwire issued a widely distributed press statement in which he admitted to having used steroids intermittently throughout the 1990s.
In an interview with the New York Times, McGwire explained that he felt obligated to make the disclosure before commencing his new batting coach position with the St. Louis Cardinals next month.
That same day, Bud Selig, 17-year veteran head of Major League Baseball (MLB), swiftly asserted that McGwire’s confession marked the end of the sport’s steroid era.
“The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst today’s players has greatly subsided and is virtually nonexistent, as our testing results have shown,” Selig said, via press release. “The so-called steroid era — a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances — is clearly a thing of the past, and Mark’s admission today is another step in the right direction.”
While public reaction to McGwire’s unexpected apology have been mixed, the general census concurs that, thankfully, McGwire’s reveal resembled that of Alex Rodriguez, rather than infamous Roger Clemens’ less-than- admirable decision to deny, deny, deny.
In February 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using performance enhances from 2001-2003 after Sports Illustrated reported that he’d been tested positive during baseball’s survey testing in 2003. At the time, although Selig had implement major league testing that same year, the discovery wasn’t subject to discipline.
That same purportedly anonymous testing also reported Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, and David Ortiz, who altogether (along with Rodriguez) were considered to be four of the greatest stars in the last 15 years of baseball.
The 2003 census was only one aspect of Selig’s crackdown on drug usage.
Four years later, after Congress threatened deeper into the incredible oversight, Selig enlisted the assistance of George J. Mitchell, former majority leader of the Senate. On December 13, 2007, Mitchell released an approximately 400 page report, based on interviews with over 700 people, including 60 former players, tying 89 Major Leaguers, including Clemens, to the use of illegal steroids.
Furthermore, the study revealed that baseball covertly postponed testing for part of the 2004 season, after authorities confiscated the 2003 results as part of a drug case that same year. The discreet omission was agreed upon by the commissioner’s office and the players’ association.
The website Baseball’s Steroid Era, an online collection of media reports completely unaffiliated with the MLB, has crafted a loose timeline ranging from 1990-2010 covering all known cases of drug use.
Regardless of when the confessions were made—and for some, there’s still a question of if they ever will be—the fact remains that the integrity of baseball, players and officials alike, has been indelibly tarnished.