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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
New Column on Mark McGwire and Legal Fallout of His Admission

I have a new column that looks at the fallout of Mark McGwire admitting that he used steroids. Here's an excerpt.

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3) What would have happened had McGwire talked about the past?

If McGwire had denied using steroids -- that is, lie -- he would have set himself up for perjury charges. But keep in mind, under Title 18 of the U.S. Code (Section 1001), there is a five-year statute of limitations for federal perjury charges. That means that McGwire or any other witness from the March 17, 2005 hearing would need to face perjury charges by March 17, 2010. It is unclear whether the government would have had sufficient physical evidence to investigate and seek a grand jury indictment against McGwire; there does not appear to be a Brian McNamee-like figure from McGwire's past.

Alternatively, if McGwire had admitted that he used steroids -- that is, told the truth -- he would have been subject to investigation by federal authorities as to which steroids he purchased, when and how he purchased them, from whom he purchased them and similarly probing questions. In theory, McGwire could have faced criminal charges under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act. While some might point out that no player who admitted to using steroids has been prosecuted for purchasing or using steroids, keep in mind that those players -- including Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte -- had not yet admitted to using steroids in 2005; McGwire and his attorneys did not have the benefit of observing those players' legal experiences.

McGwire's admissions of steroids and subsequent cooperation with federal authorities could have impacted other players and the steroids scandal in general. For instance, it may have aided federal investigations into other players alleged to have used steroids, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. It may have also helped the Mitchell Commission in its internal investigation. On the other hand, by admitting that he used steroids and subjecting himself to potential prosecution absent cooperation with authorities, McGwire might have put himself in the uncomfortable and unenviable position of implicating friends and former teammates.

Hope you get to read the rest of the column. Over on True Slant, Jon Pessah has a good take on the McGwire matter. Also, here's an interview I did with Scott Drake of the Legal Broadcast Network on McGwire.


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