It's official: Retired slugger Mark McGwire admitted he used steroids during parts of his 16-year career in Major League Baseball.
McGwire, who smacked 583 homers and drove in 1,414 runs, announced today in a statement that he used steroids as well as human growth hormone during his playing days.
The former Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman confessed that he was using steroids in 1998 when he was competing with then-Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa for the National League home run title. By season's end, McGwire hit 70 home runs to Sosa's 66, and Big Mac broke the single-season home run record set by Roger Maris in 1927 when he belted 60 homers.
"I wish I had never played during the steroid era," admitted McGwire. He added: "I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected."
Suspicion into the possible steroid use by McGwire grew following his appearance before congress on March 17, 2005 alongside fellow ballplayers Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. He declined to answer any questions about his past and only spoke about moving forward.
In his statement, McGwire wrote: "I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season."
According to the Associated Press, McGwire's decision to come clean was prompted by his decision to take over the hitting coach position with the Cardinals. St. Louis skipper Tony LaRussa is an ardent backer of McGwire and thinks his reputation will only improve by coming back to baseball.
McGwire, 46, who has received only minimal support from baseball writers voting for him for the Hall of Fame, tallied 23.7 percent of the vote this year. With his admission to steroid and HGH use, he will likely receive more votes and possible induction to the HOF in the future.
McGwire, who retired at age 38 due to injuries that may have been related to the side effects from his steroid use, may be used as a pinch hitter this year in addition to his coaching responsibilities.