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Home-run legend McGwire admits he was drugs cheat

Sobbing and sniffling, former St Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire finally answered the steroid question.

Ending more than a decade of denials and evasion, McGwire admitted this week what many had suspected for so long -- that steroids and human growth hormone helped make him a home-run king during his Major League Baseball (MLB) playing career.

The 46-year-old, who broke MLB's single-season home run record with 70 in 1998, revealed in a statement that he used steroids at various times during the decade and regretted doing so.



EMOTIONAL

"The toughest thing is my wife, my parents, close friends have had no idea that I hid it from them all this time," he said in an emotional 20-minute interview. "I knew this day was going to come. I didn't know when."

In a quavering voice, McGwire apologised and said he used steroids and human growth hormone on and off for a decade, starting before the 1990 season and including the year he broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998.

"I used steroids during my playing career and I apologise," McGwire said. "I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989-1990 off-season 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.

"I wish I had never touched steroids," he added. "It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologise. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era."

He had mostly disappeared since his infamous testimony before a congressional committee in March 2005, when he said: "I'm not here to talk about the past." He had been in self-imposed exile from public view, an object of ridicule for refusing to answer the questions.



HIRED

Once he was hired by the Cardinals in October to be their hitting coach, however, he knew he had to say something before the start of spring training in middle of next month.

Before a carefully rolled out schedule of statements and interviews, he called commissioner Bud Selig, St Louis manager Tony La Russa and Maris' widow, Pat, to personally break the news and left messages for the current stars of the Cardinals.

He issued a statement and then gave several interviews.

"It was a wrong thing what I did. I totally regret it. I just wish I was never in that era," he said.


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