Video: ‘He's an extreme competitor’

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updated 3/7/2006 10:32:28 PM ET 2006-03-08T03:32:28
STORY

That there now seems proof beyond the grand jury transcripts in the Bonds case, bringing an extraordinary close to the last 12 or 13 months for a former baseball star who was crucified last year, I might note, just about everywhere except on a 'Countdown' newscast, when he accused Bonds and many other players of being on the juice, while admitting he was using it while hitting most of the 462 home runs of his 17-year career.

His name, of course, is Jose Canseco. He joined Keith from Tampa.

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, 'COUNTDOWN': All right, the reporting you know about, Bonds gradually escalated from one steroid to another , finally to these customized drugs. He used them so constantly, even his suppliers thought he was overdoing it. Even knowing what you know about this subject, does it surprise you how much Barry Bonds apparently used, and how recklessly he was in using it?

JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER:: Well, I don’t think there’s any information on how much he actually used or how recklessly he actually used them. But I do know for a fact the time when he did break Mark McGwire’s home run record directly coincided with the home run challenge we had in Vegas. And I remember, and I think I state this in my book, where I was actually changing, I took my shirt off, and he said to me (INAUDIBLE), Damn, what the hell have you been doing? And three months later, when he showed up to spring training, I think it was, he had gained about 30 pounds of pure muscle and broke Mark McGwire’s home run record.

So I knew exactly, at least that year, I don’t know if it was ‘99, that he was using steroids, for sure.

OLBERMANN: Yes. One of the key points you made in that book, "Juiced," last year was that a player would see what another guy was doing, obviously doing steroids, just as you just told the story, of Bonds seeing you, and get envious or jealous or curious, and start doing them himself.

And here, apparently, it is, in black and white, Bonds was angry that McGwire had broken the home run record. Is this the dirty little secret inside this big story of steroids? Is envy as much a part of it as anything else?

CANSECO: Well, I don’t know if envy and jealousy plays as much as—part of just being a competitor. I’ve talked to Bonds in the actual past, and he’s an extreme competitor. And he seemed like the type of individual that would basically grab any edge possible to make himself a better player. And obviously he did that by using steroids.

OLBERMANN: From the baseball point of view, what should be done about him? What should be done about his records? Do you suspend him? Do you erase his records? Do you—what would you do if it was your decision?

CANSECO: If it were my decision, I’d investigate major league owners, I’d investigate their managers, I’d investigate everyone involved except the players.

Video: The Bonds Bombshell

People have to understand that. These players were just pawns. These players were allowed to use these substances without any reprimands whatsoever, without even mentioning of the rules or laws or of certain issues that possibly happened to them.

The two culprit here—and I think eventually, when this is all said and done, there should be a huge investigation done on the owners and general managers.

OLBERMANN: You wrote last year that you thought steroids should be legal in baseball, but regulated. Do you think that’s—do you still have that opinion?

CANSECO: I’ve actually never stated that.

OLBERMANN: You—did you not write that it—that they could be handled safely and used safely?

CANSECO: Not in major league baseball. What I wrote was that if you were going to use steroids, which I really don’t recommend it, that you would have to have a prescription, you would have to have a doctor’s supervision, basically—obviously the prescription, because they are illegal, and you would have to monitor your system constantly, because really, we don’t really know enough about steroids, especially in the long-term effect, to use them recklessly.

OLBERMANN: Personal point, Jose, as I said last year, it was largely your word against Barry Bonds, your word against McGwire, against Sammy Sosa, against Rafael Palmeiro, many others. And all this has happened to all them in the last 12 months. Do you feel personally vindicated by these circumstances?

CANSECO: I don’t feel vindicated, because these players are basically taking the brunt of this responsibility. Basically, it’s not the players you have to look to, it’s the owners and the organizations and the general managers, trainers, even baseball agents, who acquire these steroids for these players.

You’ve got to understand, these players are competitors, they want to become better athletes, better players. They’ve basically strived for this their whole career and their whole life, even as they were children. And all of a sudden, you get to the major league level, where the money is just phenomenal and incredible, and then you want to tell them, Listen, every edge you can possibly get, don’t use?

What basically happened was, everyone turned their head. It was accepted in the game of baseball. And at times—and many times, really—owners and managers and trainers were just emphasizing, You know what? You need to get stronger, you need to get faster, you need to gain weight, you could hit more home runs, you could get better stats. You need to get off the DL.

So these things were constantly emphasized upon us.

OLBERMANN: Bottom line on this case, Jose, do you have any doubt that what’s being reported is true? Do you think Barry Bonds was a prolific user of steroids in at least five of the last seven seasons?

CANSECO: I know he’s definitely used steroids. I wouldn’t believe everything the media has to say. I’d hopefully give him a chance to explain himself, and really tell his side of the story. Myself, being a victim of media for the last 20 years, I would definitely hear him out.

OLBERMANN: Jose Canseco. His book was called "Juiced." In a remarkable transformation, it has become one of baseball’s most important historical documents, and he has became one of the game’s truth-tellers.

Thanks again, Jose.

CANSECO: Thank you guys.

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