Mark McGwire insists he didn't need to use performance-enhancing drugs to hit 70 home runs, telling Stadium TV in an interview that he would have accomplished that feat without help.
"Absolutely," McGwire said, according to The Athletic. "I just know myself. I just know. I was a born home run hitter. I mean, unfortunately, I did [take PEDs]. And I've regretted that. I've talked about that. I regretted it. I didn't need to. That's the thing. Didn't need to."
As a slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998, setting a single-season record.
McGwire, now a bench coach for the San Diego Padres, says he could have hit those home runs without PEDs.
"Deep down inside, I know me as a hitter," McGwire said. "And I know what I did in that box. And I know how strong my mind is. And I know what kind of hitter I became."
Victor Conte, the founder and president of Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), disagreed with McGwire's claim. Conte served four months in prison in 2006 for distributing steroids in a scandal that has tarnished the reputation of top athletes.
"I think Mark McGwire is deluded if he thinks he would have hit 70 home runs without using PEDs in 1998,'' Conte told USA Today on Monday via text message. "I don't think he would have achieved 50 home runs without PEDs.''
Twelve years later, McGwire admitted in a televised interview with Bob Costas that he was using PEDs when he set the mark.
McGwire told The Athletic that he wasn't prepared for the question when Costas asked him about PEDs. McGwire said that had there been testing, there was "no way" he would have used PEDs.
"There wasn't anything going on [to keep the sport clean]," McGwire said. "The game has done a terrific job of doing what they're doing now. I commend them for doing it. I think we all wish [testing] went on when we had played. But unfortunately, it didn't."
McGwire's record fell in 2001 when Barry Bonds, who has also been linked to PED use, hit 73 homers.