This past year a lot of things have happened in the world. President Clinton
could possibly be impeached. Our government tried to once again take over Sadaam

Hussein. And Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs to break Roger Maris’ record of 61.

During this extraordinary event in the baseball world, one item of skepticism
clouded the entire accomplishment. During an interview that he was giving next
to his locker, a reporter noticed a bottle on the top shelf. This bottle was
filled with a nutritional pill titled androstenedione, a legal dietary
supplement that is a testosterone-producing drug that helps the body repair
itself after workouts. This repairment, in turn, helps the person taking it
build muscle faster. Some sports fans, and some who are not, say that

McGwire’s record should be discounted due to the use of this pill. I am not
one of those people. What he did this year was a personal accomplishment and
while the "andro" may have helped a little, Mark did this through years of
hard work in the batting cages. As a skinny rookie in 1987, McGwire managed to
knock 49 baseballs out of the park. I think that 11 more years experience in the
league could provide a player with the experience to chalk up another 21
dingers. Now granted, I can see some skeptics points. Androstenedione is a
supplement that has been banned by a number of sports organizations worlwide:
the NFL, NCAA, and the International Olympic Committee for example. But Major

League Baseball is not one of these organizations. So why then should his record
be nixed for breaking a rule that does not even apply in his sport? The answer
is he shouldn’t. Mark McGwire is a superb athlete who bettered his game by
following the rules. He did absolutely nothing wrong in obtaining this once
thought of unobtainable record. Another aspect to look at is that Sammy Sosa
also had a tremendous year. This Chicago Cub hit 66 home runs this year and he
has never touched androstenedione. How hard is it for a fellow slugger to hit 4
more? Not that difficult if you are as high a caliber player as McGwire. Muscle
building supplements have been used for years in pro and college athletic
programs. Creatine, probably the most popular, is used by virtually every major
college in the country. Even your average weight lifter uses it. Androstenedione
is just one step higher on the dietary scale, and only by a fraction. A
statement was issued by the Cardinal’s medical staff concerning
androstenedione when the supposed "scandal" surfaced. Now, there is a
possibility that it may be a tad biased but keep in mind that the ladies and
gentlemen that issued this statement are still doctors. "Androstenedione is a
natural substance, which is a natural precursor product of testosterone. It has
no proven anabolic steroid effect nor significant side effects. It stimulates
slight increase levels for a short period of time (1 hour). Taken approximately
one hour before workouts, it may make one’s workout more efficient. "Due to
current research that locks documentary evidence of any adverse side effects,
the Cardinal’s medical staff cannot object to Mark’s choice to use this
legal and over-the-counter supplement." If doctor after doctor repeatedly
defends androstenedione as harmless and the FDA approves its use, why all the
controversy? Creatine is basically the same thing and is used on a much more
widespread basis, yet no one questions its use. Why? I think that partly the
reason may be because Mark McGwire is so good and so powerful. Roger Maris’
record was never even threatened up until this year. Living in the type of
country we do, people needed to find a bad side to everything that is pure. Even
if no rule was broken, the public accuses anyway. If legal muscle enhancing
products were outlawed and everyone who used them had their records revoked, the
standard by which we measure athletic greatness would be considerably lower.

Regardless of whether or not Mr. McGwire used a muscle enhancing product or not,
he accomplished a spectacular feat. Something legal that he did should not
question the validity of that event. It is a sad fact that a sports hero can
break a once thought untouchable record and now his name will forever be flawed
for no reason at all.