McGwire lost strength by not muscling response

March 20, 2005|by MARK KELLER

It's been said that silence speaks volumes.

If that's true, anyone who heard Mark McGwire's testimony in front of a Congressional panel Thursday should have been wearing earplugs.

The silent treatment that McGwire gave to members of the House Government Reform Committee during its steroid inquiry did more to tarnish his image than any denial of steroid use could have done to save it.

Since 1998, the year McGwire and Sammy Sosa ruled the sports pages with their run at Roger Maris' single-season home run record, McGwire has told anybody that would listen that he wasn't using steroids.


In 1998, fans still stinging from a canceled World Series in 1994, were willing to believe that McGwire's bulk came only from Androstenedione, a supplement that was then legal in baseball.

But then, Ken Caminiti admitted to using steroids.

So did Jose Canseco, who recently wrote a book in which he pointed the finger at McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and others.

Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi were implicated in the BALCO case in San Francisco.

All of a sudden, maybe we're not so eager to believe McGwire, especially following his "testimony" on Thursday.

Palmeiro, Frank Thomas, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa (well, he through an interpeter anyway) each told the committee that they had never taken steroids - some vehemently, all under oath.

McGwire, however, declined to "talk about the past," even though he has been denying for years that he had used any illegal substances.

He was given several opportunities to just say no. Instead, he just said nothing.

Though he never officially invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, that is, in effect, what McGwire did on Thursday.

By not answering that one simple question - "Have you ever used steroids?" - McGwire told us all what we needed to hear.

He's addressed the steroid question countless times before, but he refused to address it when he was under oath.

Sounds an awful lot like an admission of guilt to me. And McGwire didn't even need to open his mouth.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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