Players, execs testify at hearing
Sosa, Thomas, Palmeiro say they've never used steroids
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Thursday's Congressional hearings on steroid use in Major League Baseball began at 10 a.m. ET and, with various breaks, ran for more than 11 hours. The hearings, televised on two news networks, included the impassioned pleas of parents whose teenage sons committed suicide after trying to cease steroid use; an angry exchange between baseball's lead physician and the ranking Democrat on the committee; and three players -- Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas and Rafael Palmeiro -- testifying under oath that they have never used performance-enhancing drugs.But perhaps the most stirring moment was provided by Mark McGwire, who told the House Government Reform Committee that he couldn't answer any questions about his past, including those related to his alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. His voice cracking, McGwire told the committee: "My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family or myself. I intend to follow their advice." McGwire and Jose Canseco, former teammates on the Oakland A's, were the hearings' main event. The one-time "Bash Brothers" told the committee in their separate opening statements that their attorneys had advised them to not comment on possible steroid use. Under direct questioning, McGwire was asked by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) if he had used steroids. McGwire, who in 1998 became the first player in history to hit 70 home runs, did not invoke the Fifth Amendment, but he did deflect the question. "I'm not here to talk about the past," McGwire said. "I'm here to be positive and talk about the present and the future." Asked whether use of steroids was cheating, McGwire said: "That's not for me to determine." Canseco began the firestorm with his recently published book "Juiced," in which he claimed that he had used steroids and that he had witnessed teammates -- including McGwire and Palmeiro -- use steroids. Canseco said in his printed statement that he did not write his book to "single out any one individual or player."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.