Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, distinguished guests; I amhumbled by this opportunity to appear before you today. Never in my wildestdreams could I have imagined that my athletic ability and love forAmerica's game would lead me to this place and the subject that has broughtme before the Committee. When I decided to write my life's story, I wasaware that what I revealed about myself and the game I played for amajority of my life would create a stir in the athletic world. I did notknow that my revelations would reverberate in the halls of this chamber andin the hearts of so many.
I had hoped that what I experienced first hand, when revealed, wouldgive insight into a darker side of a game that I loved. That maybe it wouldforce baseball to acknowledge it condoned this activity for the solepurpose of increasing revenue at the gate.
The book that I wrote was meant to convey one message. The prefacemakes my position very clear. I do not condone or encourage the use of anyparticular drugs, medicine, or illegal substances in any aspect of life.
My book was informational and intended to enlighten the world about aproblem that until my book was released had only been spoken of inwhispers. I did not write my book to single out any one individual orplayer. I am saddened that the media and others have chosen to focus on thenames in the book and not on the real culprit behind the issue. That thefocus of my life and those involved in it may have inadvertently damagedplayers was not my intent. I hoped rather that finally the media and theworld would try and dig beyond the easy answer and not fix blame but fixthe problem. A problem that would continue unabated if I did not callattention to it.
Because of my truthful revelations I have had to endure attacks on mycredibility. I have had to relive parts of my life that I thought had beenlong since buried and gone. All of these attacks have been spurred on by anorganization that holds itself above the law. An organization that chose toexploit its players for the increased revenue that lines its pockets andthen sacrifice those same players to protect the web of secrecy that washidden for so many years. The time has come to end this secrecy and toconfront those who refuse to acknowledge their role in encouraging thebehavior we are gathered to discuss.
I love the sport of baseball. I love it in its purest and simplestform.
I still long for the time when I could pick up a bat and ball and hitone over the fence for the game-winning run. I am appreciative of theopportunities that the sport of baseball has given to me along with thequality of life it has provided. It permitted me to take care of my familyand provide a better life for myself and others close to me. However, had Iknown that this opportunity would cost me so much, I would have refused theoffer so many years ago.
The pressure associated with winning games, pleasing fans, andgetting the big contract, led me, and others, to engage in behavior thatwould produce immediate results. This is the same pressure that leads theyouth of today, other athletes and professionals, to engage in that samebehavior.
The time has come to address this issue and set the record straightabout what risks are involved in that behavior. To send a message toAmerica, especially the youth that these actions, while attractive atfirst, may tarnish and harm you later. That sometimes there are things moreimportant than simply money.
Why did I take steroids? The answer is simple. Because, myself andothers had no choice if we wanted to continue playing. Because MLB didnothing to take it out of the sport. As a result, no one truly knew who wason muscle enhancing drugs. As a result, a player who wanted to continue toplay, to perform as a star, was forced to put into their bodies whateverthey could just to compete at the same level as those around them.
However, why we are before Congress today is only part of a muchlarger problem. The American public continues to place athletes in aposition above everyone else. "Some people are born to greatness and othershave greatness thrust upon them." A successful athlete is viewed as thevoice of a city, state, and country. He or she, in playing their sport,often represents the very spirit of a nation and its people. We rarely seeriots and the gut wrenching emotion so apparent in sports in any otherforum.
When the Boston Red Sox failed to get to the World Series two yearsago the pain echoed throughout the fans as a personal attack on the cityand on the individual residents there. When a Chicago Cubs fan got caughtup in the moment and interfered with the game, he was attacked, vilified,and forced to move and change his life.
Such emotional investment is felt by the players daily. We want onlyto please those who hold us in such high esteem. We feel deeply theobligation that we each have to perform and win. It is a burden that wetake on willingly and without hesitation or regret. However, perhaps, inaddition to addressing this pressing issue we should take the opportunityto look at the priority that we place on athletes and athletics and changeour focus.
Baseball owners and the players union have been very much aware ofthe undeniable fact that as a nation we will do anything to win. Theyturned a blind eye to the clear evidence of steroid use in baseball. Why?Because it sold tickets and resurrected a game that had recently suffered ablack eye from a player strike. The result was an intentional act bybaseball to promote, condone and encourage the players to do whatever theyhad to do to win games, bring back the fans, and answer the bottom line.Salaries went up, revenue increased and owners got richer. But this comeswith a cost.
MLB issued press releases years ago stating clearly the position thatbanned substances that enhanced performance were not a part of MLB. MLB setforth "for cause testing" to support this position. However, during myentire career no player was ever tested for performance enhancingsubstances. "For Cause" became a hollow threat that was never used byanyone involved with MLB. It was again made clear that press releases werethe only thing MLB was going to do to "clean up" MLB's image. The duplicitypresent throughout my career continues today.
Many have said that my motivation for revealing this problem ismyriad; revenge, monetary gain, vindication. The truth is that I would haveplayed baseball for free. I even offered to play for free some years agoand to donate my salary to charity just to be a part of the game. Thisoffer was rejected and MLB turned its back on me just as it had turned ablind eye to the drugs that were running rampant through the sport. Mymotivation is nothing more than a clearing of conscience and an effort toresurrect a sport that has given joy to so many.
I am moved by the efforts Congress is taking to address this problem.I am humbled that my book may have played a small part in setting forththis juggernaut. I am hopeful that it will yield a positive result.
As I sit here today I would be remiss if I did not again stress thatI do not condone the use of any drugs or illegal substances. I urge parentsto become more active and involved in the lives of their children. I hopethat my message will be received as it is intended, that we, asprofessional athletes, are no better than anyone else. We just have aspecial ability that permits us to play ball. We should not be held up toany higher standard of behavior than any other mother or father. Ourchildren's heroes should not be solely the athletes they watch, but moreimportantly the parents who are with them each day.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. I hope that mystatements and answers to those questions posed to me will help find asolution to this problem. That the intentional failure of MLB to addressthis issue will finally be put to rest, and that those who follow me intothis sport will have the opportunity to do so free of the pressure tocompromise themselves simply for increased revenue.
To those players who have been thrust into this debate I simply askthem to tell the truth as I have told the truth. To join with me and helpresurrect the sport we love from where the owners and union have let it go.
Jose CansecoCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun