Canseco: McGwire not fully forthcoming

Updated: January 12, 2010, 11:35 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

The brothers are bashing each other.

Mark McGwire admitted Monday to using steroids during his career, but Jose Canseco contends his former "Bash Brother" from their days together in Oakland is not being entirely forthcoming about the matter.

Canseco, whose book "Juiced" fueled congressional hearings into performance-enhancing drugs in 2005, revisited one topic Tuesday that he wrote about in the book: that he and McGwire injected each other with steroids in the clubhouse bathroom stalls before games when they were teammates with the Oakland Athletics from 1986 to '92.

In an interview with ESPN's Bob Ley on Tuesday, McGwire refuted Canseco's claims, without going into specifics.

"Jose is out there doing what he's doing, but I'm not going to stoop down to his level," he said. "None of that stuff happened. He knows it. I know it. I'm not going to stoop down to that level."

McGwire told Bob Costas in an interview on MLB Network on Monday that the claims were not true and that Canseco must have written those things to help sell "Juiced."

"I've got no problems with a few of the things he's saying, but again, it's ironic and strange that Mark McGwire denies that I injected him with steroids. He's calling me a liar again," Canseco said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I've defended Mark, I've said a lot of good things about him, but I can't believe he just called me a liar.

"There is something very strange going on here, and I'm wondering what it is. I even polygraphed that subject matter, that I injected him, and passed it completely. So I want to challenge him on national TV to a polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a polygraph examination."

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who managed McGwire and Canseco in Oakland, hired McGwire as Cardinals hitting coach during the offseason. In an interview with ESPN's "Baseball Tonight," La Russa said he didn't know McGwire had used steroids until the slugger admitted as much in a phone call to the manager earlier Monday.

"That's a blatant lie," Canseco said. "Tony La Russa was quoted as saying that I was using steroids back then, and I was talking about it in the clubhouse, openly. That's a blatant lie.

"There are some things here that are so ridiculous, and so disrespectful for the public and the media to believe. I just can't believe it. I'm in total shock. These guys remind me of politicians that go up and just lie to the public and expect to get elected."

Canseco said he is still a big fan of McGwire and he believes McGwire would have broken the single-season home run record without using performance-enhancing drugs.

McGwire said Monday that he used steroids to keep his body healthy in order to remain in the lineup, not to pad his power numbers or break records. Asked by Ley why he needed to take steroids during seasons in which he played more than 150 games, McGwire said: "I was breaking down. Just because I wasn't injured doesn't mean I wasn't breaking down.

"Those years I only used it for about four-week periods after the All-Star break."

McGwire reiterated that he would have hit home runs anyway.

"I'm speaking from my heart," McGwire told Ley. "This is my opinion, with the good graces that God gave me, he gave me the strength to hit home runs."

To that end, Canseco said he is convinced McGwire is "the exception" to players who might use or have used performance-enhancing drugs.

"He's such a talented individual," Canseco said.

But Canseco expressed resentment with a perception that he needs to defend what he wrote in "Juiced."

"I'm tired of justifying what I've said," Canseco said. "I've polygraphed, I've proven that I'm 100 percent accurate. I never exaggerated. I told it the way it actually happened. I'm the only one who has told it the way it actually happened. Major League Baseball is still trying to defend itself. It's strange. All I have is the truth, and I've proven that."

Canseco also took issue with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who Canseco always has claimed knew about the sport's steroid problem and looked the other way during the era.

"I think eventually Bud Selig has to resign," Canseco said. "This is far from over. There's a list out there of [103] players. The last five to eight years there may have been some players elected to the Hall of Fame that were on that list. Nonetheless, if that list is not divulged, there will continuously be players who are inducted into the Hall of Fame who will probably be on that list."

Former Rep. Tom Davis, who chaired the 2005 congressional hearings, spoke to Ley on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday and said that he was indeed trying to gain immunity for McGwire to discuss his PED use openly. The deal fell through, and McGwire proceeded to infamously tell the committee that he would not talk about the past.

"I think it explains why he looked so bad at the hearings when he said that he wanted to talk about the future, not the past," Davis said.

McGwire has been making the rounds, admitting his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

On Monday, McGwire called Pat Maris, the widow of Roger Maris, who had held the single-season home run record with 61 in 1961 until McGwire surpassed it with 70 homers in 1998, and admitted that he took steroids while playing.

"I felt that I needed to do that," McGwire said in the MLB Network interview. "They've been great supporters of mine. She was disappointed and she has every right to be."

Told by Costas that certain Maris family members have said that they now consider Roger Maris' 61 the authentic home run record -- Barry Bonds holds the record, hitting 73 in 2001 -- McGwire responded: "They have every right to."

Maris' son, Rich, told the San Francisco Chronicle that McGwire was "pretty choked up" when he called Pat Maris.

"My mom was very touched by his call. She felt sorry for Mark -- that he's going through this. She conveyed that we all make mistakes and move on from there," Rich Maris told the newspaper.

"[McGwire's steroid use] is something we thought all along. It wasn't so much a surprise, but I feel bad for Mark. He's a very genuine guy and we're close to him -- we love him like a brother. I'm glad he got it out," Maris told the newspaper.

Byron Dorgan, a U.S. senator from North Dakota, used McGwire's confession as an opportunity to urge the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee to elect Maris, a two-time AL MVP who grew up Grand Forks and Fargo.

"More than 40 years after breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, Maris now stands as the only player to do so without the use of steroids," Dorgan said. "It's important to set an honest example for our nation's children who put themselves in danger when they try to emulate their sports heroes by bulking up with performance-enhancing drugs."

McGwire, who is eighth on the all-time home run list with 583 homers, was not elected into the Hall of Fame in his fourth year of eligibility. In voting that was announced on Jan. 6, he received 128 votes (23.7 percent) in the balloting, 10 more than last year and matching the total from his first two years on the ballot.

"I definitely think that they cheated," former McGwire teammate Goose Gossage said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And what does the Hall of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity."

For Gossage, Hank Aaron still holds the career record of 755 home runs and Maris owns the season record of 61. The Goose tosses out the fantastic figures posted by Barry Bonds, McGwire and Sammy Sosa as part of a "cheating era," dismissing them as if they were scuffed baseballs being rolled to the clubbies. He equated them with Pete Rose, barred from the Hall ballot because of his lifetime ban for betting on Cincinnati while managing the team.

"The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy," said Gossage, inducted two years ago. "I don't think they should be recognized. Here's a guy Aaron, we're talking about the greatest record of all records. And he did it on a level playing field. He did it with God-given talent. And the same with Maris, absolutely. These are sacred records and they've been shattered by cheaters."

Ralph Houk, Maris' manager with the Yankees in 1961, told ESPN that he does not think the legitimacy of McGwire's home run totals is changed by his admission of using performance-enhancing drugs and that the effects of such drugs -- whether pills (amphetamines) taken in the 1960s or steroids in later years -- are questionable.

"I think [McGwire] broke [Maris'] record fairly," Houk told ESPN. "I wouldn't be concerned about it. [McGwire] was a good hitter that deserves everything he's got."

Steve Trachsel, who gave up McGwire's historic home run No. 62 a dozen years ago, was saddened by McGwire's admission.

"It's disappointing because it's such a great moment in the history of sports. So many people were rooting for him and Sammy, not just in America but all around the world," Trachsel told the AP. "It's kind of disappointing the whole thing is kind of dirty now."

Information from ESPN's Willie Weinbaum and The Associated Press was used in this report.