Canseco bragged about 'helper'

Updated: February 17, 2005, 10:48 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Jose Canseco bragged about not having to work out as hard as other players on the Oakland Athletics because he had a "helper,'' his former manager, Tony La Russa, said in an interview with "60 Minutes Wednesday.''

Jose Canseco
Canseco

Tony La Russa
La Russa

La Russa managed Canseco and the Athletics to consecutive AL pennants from 1988-90, winning the World Series in 1989. La Russa's interview was broadcast Wednesday night on CBS, three days after the network aired an interview with Canseco, who has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs and accused several former teammates of the same.

Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said Major League Baseball has no record of being contacted during the mid-1990s by an FBI agent who told the New York Daily News he warned baseball about steroid use among players.

La Russa, now manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, told "60 Minutes Wednesday'' that Canseco would boast about not needing a lot of time in the gym to build his strength.

"He would laugh about the time that other guys were spending there, and how he didn't have to, because he was, he was doing the other 'helper,' '' La Russa said. "He was having help in a different way. You know, the easy way.''

Even with Canseco openly bragging about his steroid use, La Russa said it was pointless to report what he knew.

" I think it's fair to say that Major League Baseball could have been more hard-nosed about their approach, but it's more fair to say that even any effort that they made, or would have made, would have been rebuffed by the players' association. "
Tony La Russa

"I think it's fair to say that Major League Baseball could have been more hard-nosed about their approach, but it's more fair to say that even any effort that they made, or would have made, would have been rebuffed by the players association," La Russa said. "... Why does the players' association do things that is really not in the best interest of the game as a whole? They're really concerned with their constituents."

Earlier this week, the Daily News reported that baseball executives failed to act on information provided by Special Agent Greg Stejskal in Ann Arbor, Mich. He said he told baseball security chief Kevin Hallinan in the mid-1990s that Canseco and other players were using illegal anabolic steroids.

"Kevin has told me that he does not remember any conversation with Special Agent Stejskal,'' Alderson said. "However, because of the nature of the assertions made by Stejskal, we have reviewed our records to determine what, if any, contact there may have been between Stejskal and our office.''

Alderson said baseball has no record of any contact with Stejskal during the period, adding: "Nor has the FBI provided us with any such documentation.''

Alderson said Stejskal left a message on Hallinan's voice mail Tuesday. Alderson said the message states that the '90s contact to which Stejskal has referred occurred at an FBI conference in Quantico, Va., where Hallinan was speaking.

"Hallinan does not recall the scenario described by Stejskal,'' Alderson said in a statement. "Had Hallinan been more formally contacted, or had he received a follow-up call from Stejskal, he would have pursued whatever information was available.''

Alderson said baseball's phone records do reflect a call on June 19, 2002, from a Greg Stejskal, who identified himself as an FBI employee in the Detroit office. Alderson said Hallinan was out of town when the call came and directed Marty Maguire, a member of baseball's security department, to return the call.

"Stejskal referred Maguire to an informant, whom Maguire contacted,'' Alderson said. "The informant provided very dated information linking only one player, Jose Canseco, to steroid use. At the time that this information was obtained, Canseco was no longer an active professional baseball player.''

On May 28 that year, Sports Illustrated released a report in which former NL MVP Ken Caminiti alleged many players used steroids. That June 7, The Wall Street Journal reported that Canseco, who was circulating a book proposal, had told publishing houses that he took steroids.

Alderson, who was the general manager of the A's between 1983 and 1997, said that Major League Baseball heard rumors about players using steroids, but didn't have any proof.

"... Were there rumors? Yes, there were over a period of time, but never any sort of direct, hard information that steroids were being used," Alderson told "60 Minutes."

Although Alderson suspected Canseco's use of steroids, he never confronted Canseco because of the lack of evidence.

"... There was no testing policy that would allow us to confirm or deny any of the rumors that existed," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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