Mark McGwire, adamant in spring training that he would keep taking androstenedione, disclosed Wednesday he has not used the supplement for four months.
McGwire made the revelation before his St. Louis Cardinals played the San Diego Padres. Hours later, he hit his 499th career home run and 42nd of the season, tying Sammy Sosa for the major league lead.
"I thought long and hard about it and I don't like the way it was portrayed like I was the endorser of the product, which I wasn't," McGwire said. "I don't like how it's portrayed, but young kids take it because of me. I don't like that."
McGwire said the fact his record 70-homer season in 1998 was linked to andro, a testosterone booster, likely encouraged youngsters to try it. That was perhaps the biggest reason for his decision.
"I discourage young people from taking it," he said. "If you're old enough and you have your own mind, you can do whatever you want."
Classified as a dietary supplement, andro is permitted in baseball, but is banned by the Olympics, the NCAA, the NFL, and the men's and women's tennis tours.
McGwire's admission that he used andro sparked a tenfold increase in sales of the supplement last fall, much of it through the Internet, and led many steroid experts to warn of serious health consequences for teen-agers who take it to emulate McGwire.
Major league baseball has commissioned a study of andro by Harvard scientists. No decision is expected until later this year.
Last August, McGwire acknowledged to The Associated Press that he had used andro for more than a year. Colorado's Dante Bichette was among a group of other players who said they took it.
As spring training opened this year, McGwire said andro was legal and that it had "absolutely nothing to do with me hitting a baseball."
He said then he took it to get through late-season workouts.
"I don't endorse the product and I never did," he said then. "Someone stuck their nose in my locker."
McGwire's recent statistics appear to show that he's fine without andro. Including Wednesday's shot, he has homered 15 times in 19 games.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed