Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010

McGwire Pleads the Fifth

Is winning without dignity and grace still winning? In the great home-run race of 1998, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire set the single-season record, staving off the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa. When a House committee gathered in March 2005 to investigate steroid use in baseball, it subpoenaed McGwire and 11 other players. Instead of testifying, however, McGwire asserted his Fifth Amendment rights — repeatedly — to avoid answering any questions about drug use prior to his 2001 retirement. "Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem," he said during the 11-hour hearing. "I'm not going to go into the past or talk about my past. I'm here to make a positive influence on this."

Less than five years later, McGwire came clean. On Jan. 11, 2010, he publicly admitted that he "hid from everybody" to use performing-enhancing drugs, including during his record-setting summer. Not to worry, McGwire fans: Mark said he had no doubt he could have still snagged the home-run record without the drugs, boasting, "I was given a gift to hit home runs ... The only reason I took steroids was for health purposes."