AP Interview: Jay McGwire says drugs aided big bro
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Jay McGwire heard big brother Mark say last month he only took steroids to heal, and not to get stronger. That doesn’t match Jay McGwire’s recollection.
“Mark knew that he was going to get the strength and endurance and size. I know that the main motive to justify taking steroids was healing,” Jay McGwire said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I know that for a fact. But in the long run he knew the strength and the size and endurance will increase. I don’t know why he’s coming across that it was all healing.”
Estranged from his brother for eight years because of a family dispute, Jay McGwire has gone public in “Mark and Me: Mark McGwire and the Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret,” which is scheduled for publication Monday by TriumphBooks.
“He knows his game went to the next level because his body went to the next level,” Jay McGwire said. “He knows. The body, the before and after pictures, are amazing.”
When he finally admitted last month that he used steroids, after he was hired as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire said it was only to help him get through injuries.
“I knew if he stayed healthy, Mark would hit a lot of home runs, but I didn’t know he’d hit 70,” Jay McGwire said, referring to his brother’s record-setting total in 1998, when he shattered Roger Maris’ 61 in 1961.
Jay McGwire says in the book he persuaded his brother to start using steroids regularly in 1994 and set him up with a supplier. He says Mark regularly used an array of drugs through 1996 that included Deca-Durabolin, human growth hormone, Dianabol, Winstrol and Primobolan. McGwire later used androstenedione, a steroid precursor that wasn’t banned by baseball until 2004, when it became a controlled substance.
Jay McGwire, a former bodybuilder who turns 40 on May 5, said he was introduced to steroids by friends in 1989, beginning with pills of Anavar. He says his brother only gave in to using steroids after an injury filled 1993 season.
“Somewhere in the course of a conversation between brothers, baseball history was changed,” Jay McGwire wrote. “I was the one who convinced him to do it. Mark wouldn’t trust anyone else. My heart told me that I was simply trying to help a brother in need. … In addition to the healing prospects I saw ahead for Mark, I saw in him a blank canvas. I pictured what a beast he could become with the proper training, and I wanted to use my expertise to help create a masterpiece.”
Jay McGwire stopped using steroids in 1996 after he became suicidal. He realized his mood swings and rage, and he found religion.
“It’s just bad news. At the end of the run, it’s just not good,” he said. “It’s like any other drug. Once you depend on it, it’s the ball and chain of your life. As an athlete, people use that as a crutch to get through stuff. It’s overwhelming, the temptation.”
Jay McGwire, who opened McGwire’s Fitness in Ontario, Calif., this month, thinks HGH has replaced steroids among some players.
“I guarantee it. Athletes are still using something. They don’t have drug-testing for that, so they’re going to use that,” Jay McGwire said. “Now is HGH as powerful as the heavy testosterones out there? No, but HGH will help you recover faster, when it comes down to breaking down muscles and to put on lean muscle mass over time. It makes you just feel better when you’re on HGH.”
The brothers fell out after Jay McGwire’s stepson, Eric, tickled Mark and caused Mark to spill coffee on himself. Mark then swatted Eric on the backside. Jay’s wife, Francine, then refused to attend Mark’s wedding.
Even a written letter of apology from Mark to Francine didn’t end the rift.
“It’s sad on both ends. I just can’t believe something like that would keep us apart,” Jay McGwire said. “Maybe he’s just written me off. It’s sad that it happened that way. I hope some day that this could all be past us.”