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Steroid Testimony: Questioning by Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski

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Mr. KANJORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Canseco, in your book—I didn’t read your book I must confess, but in your book I assume that you confessed to taking steroids; is that correct?

Mr. CANSECO. Yes. In the past I have, yes.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Well, can you tell us—what we are trying to get to here—one of the reasons I objected to the—I objected to the use of subpoenas for the hearing was the highlight of just baseball, just superstars in baseball. And I have been listening to the examination now, and I am getting the indication that we want to clean up baseball at the highest level. And not looking at the broad application; I want to get to motive.

Why did you use steroids?

Mr. CANSECO. Well, there are many reasons. There’s a chapter in my book, where my mom passed away, and I was called in from California. I was playing ‘‘A’’ ball that year, and when I flew home she was in the hospital and she was brain-dead from an aneurysm. She never had seen me play Minor League in general, and I promised her I was going to be the best athlete in the world, no matter what it took. I definitely got caught up in the whole——

Mr. KANJORSKI. Would it be fair to say that you did it because the motivation was to build your body to be more competitive, and ultimately make more money?

Mr. CANSECO. I don’t even think the money was an issue there. I think just becoming, you know, the best athlete I could possibly become.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Right. Have you given a lot of thought that if we had the best damn testing system that baseball could possibly imagine, what type of implication or ramification would that have for all of those hundreds of thousands of high school athletes that we are trying to establish some help for? Shouldn’t we be looking at what we can do for them?

And now my next question is, since you obviously favor testing for super-athletes, would you favor a universal testing of the highest standard—the Olympic standard—for all athletics, regardless of where they are and regardless of what level of schooling that they are in and regardless of what sex is involved, whether it’s male, female or otherwise?

Mr. CANSECO. I truly believe that at the Major League level, if everyone knew there was no steroids at all, and a competitive balance was even, it will trickle down to the Minor League level, the high school level and beyond.

Mr. KANJORSKI. But is it your idea that we can’t do anything about steroids, then?

Mr. CANSECO. No, we definitely can.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Wouldn’t it require that we have a universal test of all athletes? You know, is some kid, 16-year-old, is not looking only at you, he is looking at football players, tennis players, he is looking at wrestlers, and probably he is not doing it for some narcissistic reason. But probably for accomplishment and success.

Mr. CANSECO. I agree. But if you just regulate it at, let’s say, at the Minor League level and then the college level and high school level, and then don’t regulate it at the Major League level——

Mr. KANJORSKI. I am not suggesting not doing it at the Major League level, I am saying a universal test for everybody who is an athlete.

Mr. CANSECO. For Major League on down.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Major league on down.

Mr. CANSECO. Absolutely, yes.

Mr. KANJORSKI. You would be in favor.


Mr. KANJORSKI. Do you have any idea how pervasive steroids are used, particularly in your younger population, college and high school? Do you have any idea, being at the center of the controversy?

Mr. CANSECO. If it is proportion to at the Major League level at the peak of steroid use, I would say it’s very high.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Do you have any percentages or fractions?

Mr. CANSECO. No, I don’t, not beyond the Major League level. No, I don’t.

Mr. KANJORSKI. Carrying that on, I am going to give you an analogy that has bothered me—and I don’t expect anybody has the answer—but suppose somebody came out with smart pills and that smart pill could make you 10 times smarter than you are right now, and they may put a warning on there that it could cost you 5 or 10 years of your life expectancy. How many people would be tempted to try to win a Nobel Prize and take that smart pill?

Mr. CANSECO. You know, that’s a very tough question, because we don’t know whether we are going to be around tomorrow or not. We don’t know if our futures are guaranteed or not. But the smart pill guarantees something, meaning you are going to win a Nobel Prize. It’s a tough question to ask. I don’t really even——

Mr. KANJORSKI. It is trying to get to the point. Look, there’s a motivation of why athletes who have a high appreciation of their body—their making a judgment of risking something. So what I am asking, it is somewhat of an intelligent question that they raise. I mean, I assume all of you fellows, particularly you, I won’t address— you had an idea it could be dangerous to your body, didn’t you?

Chairman TOM DAVIS. The gentleman’s time has expired. If you would like to answer, you may.

Mr. CANSECO. I think as athletes have become more educated, yes, they are starting to realize that—more and more information— that the dangers are greater and greater.

Chairman TOM DAVIS. Thank you.

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