In a surprising turn of events, Andy Pettitte has released a statement confirming that he used HGH
in 2002, while recovering from an elbow injury.
In his statement, Pettitte states that he used HGH on two separate occasions while on the disabled list. He was adamant that he wasn't trying "get an edge," but only to heal from the injury so he could get back and help his team.
It was a stand-up move from Pettitte, and one that I don't think many of the other players named in the report will take. Pettitte is a very religious guy, and I think that's where this statement is coming from. He isn't going to come out and call the report a fabrication, so he told the truth. HGH wasn't banned by MLB until 2005, so he didn't break any rules. Should he have used it? That's a tougher question to answer. We aren't talking about anabolic steroids here, we're talking about a substance that was neither illegal (not sure if he had a prescription or not) nor against the rules of the sport. He was using it to help rehab from an injury, not to help him pack on 20 pounds of muscle, and his use was very limited.
I'll be shocked if this statement leads to any kind of suspension for Pettitte, although I'm sure Selig will take a few shots at him in the press. Perhaps the most troubling thing about the statement is that it corroborates at least a portion of what Brian McNamee told Mitchell. This is not good news for Roger Clemens.
This is what it comes down to for me, and this goes for every player named in the report, as well as the hundreds of players who used some kind of steroid or HGH who weren't named in the report. If they did it before the league banned the substance, it doesn't matter. Illegal or not, it was not against the rules of the sport they played, so it's irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. If you want to blame someone for the prevalence of steroids in the sport from that time frame, you have to blame Bud Selig and the players' association, who fought tooth and nail to keep steroids off the testing list. You can point fingers at general managers and staff for turning a blind eye, but it's the decision-makers who should have done something about it sooner.
The reason they didn't was purely economical. The one spectacle that made it obvious to anyone and everyone in America that there were steroids in baseball, the McGwires/Sosa home run chase in 1998, was also the one spectacle that put baseball back on the map after the 1994 strike. Chicks dig the long ball, etc. Selig, the owners and the MLBPA didn't want to shoot the golden goose by shining a light on how McGwire and Sosa were shattering those records. Their failure to put an end to steroids when they had reached that level may as well have been an open memo to the rest of the league that it was OK to use them. In effect, it was.
Here's my take on the players themselves. If they used before the league made them against the rules, who cares? It's over, it's done with, and honestly, they were doing what the league told them was allowable. If they've used since, shame on you, but if you didn't fail a test, again there's nothing to be done about it, the league should've had better testing processes in place. If you get caught now, whatever you get, you deserve. I think the current punishment system is sufficient (50 games, 100 games, life), let's just hope the testing methods can keep up with the punishments.