Mark McGwire, Steroids, and the Culture of Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Mark McGwire came clean today.

It was a matter of time, I suppose, that McGwire would eventually make a statement on his use of performance-enhancing drugs. And he made that statement earlier today, admitting finally that he used steroids and human growth hormone for a large part of his career, including in 1998 when he hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals.

His statement says a lot about the man behind the slugger.

He said he “knew this day would come,” and he “wished I had never played during the steroid era.” Those are the words of a man with a guilty conscience.

What will be parsed by every sportswriter and talking head in the country now is his motivation for the statement today and how it affects his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.

It’s greater than just McGwire, though. How does this affect the candidacy of many of the sport’s biggest names of the 1990s?

You know the names: Bonds. Clemens. Palmeiro. Sosa. A-Rod. Manny. Big Papi.

The record book is full of these players’ names, and they all carry a taint of performance-enhancing drugs.

Last week, McGwire was named on just 23.7 percent of the ballots cast for the Hall of Fame election that sent Andre Dawson to the Hall.

How many of the writers left McGwire off that ballot because of his now-infamous congressional testimony? How many will cling to their sanctimonious opinion now that McGwire has admitted his use?