Big Mac gives testi-phony

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Mark McGwire is not a role model.

He is a disgrace.

Given the largest forum possible to deny his steroid use, or at the very least strongly denounce it, the bloated big-leaguer struck out yesterday.

Not only did he refuse to deny using performance-enhancing drugs in his prepared opening statement, he gave sports fans one of the broadest slaps in the face by making the most insincere offer the world has seen since Britney Spears' first marriage proposal:

He volunteered to be a spokesman in the fight against steroids.

Just what America needs -- the poster boy for pill-popping pointing out the perils of freelance needlework.

How about a workshop including Scott Peterson's marriage tips or investment advice from Martha Stewart?

Perhaps it wouldn't be too much to ask McGwire to come clean himself first.

After listening to two grieving parents who opened yesterday's congressional hearing with heart wrenching evidence of the damage steroids can do, McGwire did absolutely nothing to help shed light on an issue most Americans are finally taking seriously.

With only his best interest, stats and Hall of Fame consideration at heart, McGwire took his version of the Fifth Amendment yesterday by steadfastly answering every question the same way:

"I'm not here to talk about the past."

So why make the hollow proposal to speak out?

One representative asked simply what the retired slugger's message would be:

"I'm not here to talk about the past," said McGwire, in what is sure to be an award-winning charitable campaign.

Have you yourself taken them, or seen people taking them and seen the effects they have on people?

"I'm not here to talk about the past."

Is the taking of steroids cheating?

"That's not for me to determine."

That last one was a hanging fastball Carrot Top could have hit out of the park.

Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro surprised no one by denying they'd ever been on the juice; Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas denounced all users and Jose Canseco did a great job contradicting his book at every turn, earning him the scorn of several politicians.

While several jock-sniffing congressmen rained praise on the group for blessing them with their presence, most took the beefy bumpkins to task for thinking baseball could clean up its act.

As one congressman asked, why should anyone believe baseball is capable of policing itself when in 30 years since the last congressional hearing on 'roids the league has done nothing to curb their use.

Oh sure, public pressure recently forced the owners and players to piece together a drug-testing policy -- an agreement now revealing players testing positive could be fined instead of suspended.

Congress should certainly be praised for doing its part to spur on change. But the truth is baseball doesn't want the problem fixed.

Fact is, bigger boys belt the ball further, which attracts fans, sells jerseys and props up the bottom line.

Rampant steroid use amongst players won't keep people away from the park. Lying to the fans and insulting their intelligence will.


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