Home > Uncategorized > Don’t Get Too Snarky About McGwire

Don’t Get Too Snarky About McGwire

Note – edited to correct report of a claimed false positive; testing didn’t begin until after ’98. The Andro was discovered in his locker by Associated Press reporter Steve Wilstein, who researched the supplement and had McGwire admit in an interview that he had used it. Credit to @hansen9j for pointing out the error.

The Associated Press is reporting that Mark McGwire now admits to steroid use, and an anonymous source also claims McGwire has confided in friends that he also took Human Growth Hormone to achieve increased size and strength, culminating in his annihilation of the Major League Baseball home run record in 1998.

“But wait,” you say. “This is old news. Didn’t everyone know he was on Andro?”

Interesting story, that.

At the time the allegations were first brought forth, a journalist had discovered Andro in his locker. At the time, Andro was an over-the-counter supplement. You could quite literally buy it from the GNC in the mall, or even a well-stocked Rite-Aid. It wasn’t on the banned substances list as it was considered to be no different than taking a protein shake. The reporter did some digging, however, and discovered that Andro had effects similar to anabolic steroids.

Mark McGwire got so big, you see, because of Andro. And he lactates because he drinks milk.

Due to McGwire’s steadfast denial of steroid use, clever lobbying by baseball apologists and MLB’s PR machine, Andro was redefined as a controlled substance and an anabolic steroid by a congressional act in 2004. The thing is, technically (and chemically) speaking, Andro is not an anabolic steroid. The line of reasoning used for giving it a legal definition that didn’t have much scientific basis was that it could show up as a positive in a drug test, and in looking at a guy like McGwire, it appeared to have the same results.

As it turns out, the real reason McGwire looked like he was on steroids is because he used real honest to goodness steroids.

To quote Paul Harvey, “…and now you know the rest of the story.”

Or do you?

One of the lasting effects of the last ten years is a growth in what’s been labeled the “anti-science” movement: evangelicals and conspiracy theorists, under the guise of concerned bloggers and parents, have launched an all-out smear campaign on chemistry and medical science. It started as a means to discredit the theory of evolution, and eventually ballooned to include geology, biology, and even vaccinations against deadly diseases. As a result, sports fans are more than comfortable with heaping a hefty amount of skepticism on drug testing, seemingly picking and choosing when a drug test is a damning condemnation and when it’s a “false positive” (a situation that does occur but is extremely rare and for the most part traceable). With the culture of misinformation and no concrete way to disprove claims claims of innocence aside from history and circumstantial evidence (see: Barnett, Josh), it becomes that much harder to keep the debate about performance enhancing drugs relevant and serious.

This is all exaggerated by the fact that sports fans, whether in the realm of team or combat sports, live in a state of chronic naivete when it comes to the prevalence of steroids and performance enhancing drugs. While most are willing to admit there was (and maybe still is) a problem in baseball, it’s only because the evidence was shoved down their throats by a slew of exposes, criminal cases, and congressional hearings.

The truth of the matter is that fans demand truth, but only in a certain context. They want blood testing, but they don’t want to hear that anybody with half a brain can learn how to cycle effectively enough to use steroids for their entire career and never test positive. And they want names from baseball, damnit, but they certainly won’t want to hear anything about the NFL in conjunction with the discussion of performance enhancing drugs in sports. Sure, they’re the most obvious offenders, but they’re also the most beloved sport in the land and have the power and popularity to make any investigative journalist weary of digging too deep.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that most people get their news from a cable channel (ESPN) that is reliant on a deal with the league in order to remain viable in the marketplace. Stories about steroid use in the NFL, past and present, routinely get buried; even if a poll of retired players found that 10% were willing to admit they used steroids. With players willing to lie under oath about steroid use (Rafael Palmeiro, et al) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the actual number is likely much, much higher.

So yes, we can all laugh at the fact that McGwire has taken thirteen years to admit to something we already knew. But let’s not pretend he’s the only one in denial.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Eric
    January 12, 2010 at 2:08 am

    As a long-suffering fan of the Houston Astros, I live in constant fear of the day that Bagwell admits to roiding.

    The news will be balanced somewhat by the fact that, when approached about blood tests for HGH, Lance Berkman took the opportunity to confess his pee-shyness:

    “‘And stage fright’s a real deal,’ [Berkman] said. ‘If you can’t go in front of somebody … you just mentally lock up. I’d rather stick my arm out and they can take blood out of me all day long.'”

    • Eric
      January 12, 2010 at 2:11 am

      …I like to think that the ellipsis in the quote isn’t from the journalist omitting words, but rather from Berkman pausing while his bladder constricted involuntarily.

      • January 12, 2010 at 3:17 am

        I just picture him using it to make the face he would make when seizing up his pee-hole.

    • January 12, 2010 at 3:18 am

      This is going to sound meaner than I intend, but I don’t think people have enough interest in Bagwell to make him admit to steroid use.

  2. Eric
    January 12, 2010 at 4:03 am

    I foresee it being an issue when he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame. If McGwire’s not in (looks like he won’t be), the issue of Bagwell’s also being an andro user will inevitably come up.

  3. cheaters justice
    January 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

    We could consider that the Olympics and many college sports had already banned substances like andro in 1990s. It was legal to buy though so I guess we’ll just blame the MLB for not having an up to date drug policy and testing.

    But the point many are over looking-on purpose is that steroids became a federally controlled substance in 1990 with criminal penalties for violations. So unless a prescription/doctor was used to obtain steroids basically a CRIMINAL act occurred in obtaining and possessing them. So if money changed hands and vials or bottles of steroids were distributed on MLB team property the MLB basically overlooked or enabled ILLEGAL DRUG dealing.

    Unless dispensed in a legal fashion through MEDICAL means basically all these ‘ cheaters ‘ were involved in ILLEGAL drug dealing in the name of sport.

    What really bugs me as a life time worker outer is that these ‘cheaters’ are discouraging those who want to play,train and practice with no pharmacuetical enhancements. It taints legitmate results through working out and diet. Many novices and skeptics simply will not even try including professional athletes who will hurt themselves with a shorter career and/or more injuries.

    Which brings to me to my next peeve with ‘supplements’-I will keep short for now. The body building crowd always studied and used nutrition and supplements. The problem with supplements is that because big names like McGwire admitted use of stuff like andro and creatine many fans now feel they must use a supplement just for their one hour workout. They figure if supplements worked for the pros it work wonders for them. The side effects of the steroid era will be felt for along time.

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