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McGwire supports for stronger penalties for drug users

ST. LOUIS — With unprecedented discipline handed down to 13 players for violating Major League Baseball’s prohibition against performance-enhancing drugs, Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire knew he would be asked about his reaction to the news.

McGwire has admitted to using steroids during his playing career — a career that would undoubtedly have landed him in the Hall of Fame by now if not for the backlash against the steroid era’s inflated stats.

“It really doesn’t matter what I think,” McGwire said when asked about the suspensions handed down to Alex Rodriguez and 12 others. “I think it matters what the players think and from what I hear in the clubhouse every day they’re happy that it’s coming to an end. They’re happy that Major League Baseball is taking care of it and we can move forward. Hopefully, this will be the end of it.”

As for his own part in the steroid era, McGwire once again said he regretted the decisions he made.

“I wish I was never a part of it,” McGwire said. “I wish there were things (testing and suspension) in place earlier. … I’m just really hoping and praying that this is going to be the end of it. Everybody — especially the players — they don’t want any more part of it.

“Just get rid of it. If that means it’s better to have bigger suspensions, then they’re going to have to change it. And let’s just hope it’s the end of it.”

McGwire said he has noticed a change in the way current players view the PED offenders among them. Many have expressed a preference for stiffer penalties — a drastic difference from the conspiracy of silence during McGwire’s era when players fought against drug testing.

“I think that’s really good,” McGwire said. “I think I heard (Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan) Longoria say it was one of the saddest days in baseball. It is. It’s really bad. I just hope it’s over with and we don’t have to sit here and talk about this anymore. I just pray and hope that it is.”