Before the baseball season officially opened in April, some high profile boys of summer made an appearance in Washington, testifying before Congress on steroid use in Major League Baseball. One of those was Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles, who told lawmakers he had never used steroids.
Despite that denial, Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days on Monday for violating Major League Baseball's steroid policy.
In his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, fellow star Jose Canseco says he helped Palmeiro inject himself with steroids.
Canseco spoke to "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on Wednesday about Palmeiro's suspension.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, 'HARDBALL' HOST: Are you surprised that Mr. Palmeiro has been tested positive for steroid use?
JOSE CANSECO, 'JUICED' AUTHOR: I am not surprised, because, even if Palmeiro has not used steroids of late, steroids tend to — depending on how long you’ve used them, what type of steroids you’ve actually used and what other steroids you’ve mixed them with, oral-based or water-based — have a very stubborn metabolite that lasts in the system a very long time.
For example, if an individual takes steroids four or five years ago... it could show up in drug testing today.
MATTHEWS: How did you learn that? How do we know about how long a steroid stays in your system, Jose?
CANSECO: Well, we know that it stays in your system a very long time. We don’t know exactly how long it stays in your system. For example, I was caught under the same situation, where I was under house arrest. I was then tested for steroids and a metabolite was found in my system. I was incarcerated for almost four months before they realized that they had no evidence and then set me free.
We then started investigating, trying to find out if there has been any information or any experimentation on how long the metabolite from a steroid lasts in your system. Some are so strong that they actually mimic the actual steroid itself. And there is no information on it.
MATTHEWS: Is there any other way to take steroids besides injection? You say in your book you helped Rafael inject himself and learn how to do it. Is there any other way to get that steroid impact in the sport, except injecting it?
CANSECO: Well, there are orals, also. There are oral-based injections.
MATTHEWS: Are they as good? Are they as effective?
CANSECO: They all work in different ways. They all have different timing release mechanisms to them. They all last in the system pretty much a very long time. And there hasn’t been that much information on what steroids really do to the body and especially for a prolonged period of time.
MATTHEWS: Most people try not to inject themselves — they don’t like needles. They prefer to take something orally. Why did you choose the injection method, rather than oral method, if one’s not better than the other?
CANSECO: Well, the oral method has to go through the digestive tract, which actually weakens the actual steroid and goes through your liver twice. The injectable goes right into the bloodstream and becomes active almost instantly, depending on what steroid you’re actually using.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the heat. Did you take heat after you testified that you had used steroids and in fact you’d watched Palmeiro use them?
CANSECO: I took a lot of heat when the book first came out. Nobody believed that it was the truth. But, definitely, if you look at the timing of it all, it seemed like Congress knew this book was coming out. Congress waited to see what the content of the book “Juiced” was to actually take action.
Once they read the book, they saw that some of the contents actually matched what their investigation had said in the past. Certain FBI individuals have been investigating Major League Baseball for, I think, 10 years now. Congress took action once they saw the combinations matched.
MATTHEWS: There has been a lot of famous whistle-blowers in recent American history — the guy who talked about the tobacco industry juicing up tobacco to create more of a sensation among smokers, more addictive, of course. There’s John Dean, who testified against Richard Nixon in the Watergate case. They were all vindicated to a large extent, in fact, vindicated. Let me be blunt. Do you feel vindicated in baseball, MLB?
CANSECO: Well, I want people to understand — I have said this many times — my attack was never on these athletes. I respect these athletes greatly.
What I needed was one of these athletes who I named in the actual book, who are well-known individuals, to come forth and say, you know what, what Jose is saying is 100 percent true. My major attack and my only attack was on Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
I think that they ought to be exploited and found out for the corrupt methods they use, for letting steroids in the game, for endorsing steroids in the game of baseball.
Now, all of a sudden, you know, Bud Selig says, “I don’t know anything about it. I never saw anything.”
That’s ridiculous. It’s the biggest ongoing joke on the planet right now.
MATTHEWS: Is a 10-day suspension, like Palmeiro just got nailed with for testing positive for steroids, is that a serious sanction among big league players, with the salaries they draw?
CANSECO: Well, let’s go a little bit reverse on this, in the sense of you have to be careful now because these sanctions may be too extreme. For example, if Palmeiro is abiding by the rules, if Palmeiro is not using steroids right now and a metabolite has been found in his system, he’s found guilty, which makes no sense.
MATTHEWS: But that’s his fault. Isn’t that his fault, Jose? If he said before he never, ever used steroids, then he tests positive, and then he says, oh, that’s from a previous drug use, that’s his contradiction that he created, isn’t it?
CANSECO: Well, it’s a contradiction on one subject matter, on one time frame and not on another. There are going to be many athletes who, once this drug testing program was instituted, are going to be found guilty. Their urine sample is going to come out positive, because there will be strong metabolites. But that doesn’t mean they’re not abiding by the rules.
MATTHEWS: But why don’t they admit they broke the rules before, so the new drug test will be found to be positive because of previous use? Then they won’t be nailed again.
CANSECO: It’s very simple. They don’t have enough information, enough knowledge on how long a metabolite lasts in an athlete’s system.
MATTHEWS: Most players, I think you were suggesting, use them through injection. Is there any other way to get steroids into your system? In other words, when Jose Canseco says this week in his defense he didn’t take steroids intentionally, is there any other way to take them than intentionally?
CANSECO: Lately, in the last two or three years, they’ve come out with these patches that actually you put on your skin, and it seeps through and into the blood system, which is a very weak form of an actual steroid. That definitely works, but you have to administer it so many times. It’s just incredible.
MATTHEWS: But that’s intentional.
CANSECO: I truly believe every professional athlete, especially elite athletes, with the money that they’re making nowadays — you know, $5, $10, $15, $25 million a year — knows exactly what is going into their body.
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