McGwire's return to baseball criticized at anti-steroids conference

The father of a teenager who committed suicide after using steroids in 2004 said that baseball should not have allowed Mark McGwire to re-enter the game so soon after his steroids confession in January and is still waiting for an apology from him. The father, Frank Marrero, said at an anti-steroids conference today in Lutherville-Timonium that baseball should not have endorsed the former slugger's return to the game as St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor so soon after his steroids confession in January.

"I think baseball is too forgiving. I think baseball has not held him accountable," Marrero said in an interview during the conference sponsored by St. Joseph's Medical Center's "Powered by ME!" program. "He needs to be able to say that he was sorry for what he did, admit it -- that it was a mistake -- and go out there and talk to the kids. I know that my son [Efrain, who was 19] told me that Mark McGwire is one of the reasons he took steroids."

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., also appeared at the conference and said his staff had invited McGwire to speak at the event. The conference was attended by about 700 high-school athletes from 64 area high schools.

"I think that he should give more," Cummings said of McGwire." I think he should be doing these types of things -- traveling around the country, talking to kids, showing true remorse."

Cummings' staff said it was told by McGwire that he could not attend the conference because of the team's afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves in St. Louis. Cummings said he hoped McGwire would speak at a future conference. McGwire could not be reached Thursday through Brian Bartow, a team spokesman.

Cummings and Marrero were both at the 2005 congressional hearing when McGwire repeatedly declined to address accusations of steroid use. That was about six months after Efrain Marrero killed himself after quitting steroids and suffering what his father said were serious psychological after-effects.

Nearly five years later, McGwire admitted using steroids. His return to baseball as a hitting instructor was endorsed by commissioner Bud Selig.

The headliners at today's conference -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and corner back Domonique Foxworth -- urged the student athletes to avoid the temptations of steroids.

"Don't ever stop working, man," said the animated Lewis, dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt. "Don't ever put anything in the body that changes who you are."

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