Former major leaguer Ken Caminiti admitted he was on steroids in 1996, the same year he won the National League Most Valuable Player award.
In an exclusive report by Sports Illustrated, Caminiti says he used the steroids the year he hit a career-best .326 with 40 home runs and drove in 130 runs for the San Diego Padres.
Caminiti, who turned 39 in April, told the magazine at least half of the major league players use the performance-enhancing drugs. However, he defended his use of steroids.
“I’ve made a ton of mistakes,” Caminiti told the magazine. “I don’t think using steroids is one of them.”
He told the magazine he started using steroids midway through the 1996 season after hurting his shoulder. Up to that season he had never hit more than 26 homers in a single year, but in 1996 he hit 28 after the All-Star break and followed that up with 26 homers in 1997 and 29 in 1998.
It was earlier this year that Caminiti pleaded guilty to drug possession charges and was sentenced to three years probation. He had previously admitted that he also faced alcohol abuse in 1993.
While the NBA and NFL both have rules against steroid use, the NHL and Major League Baseball do not prohibit players from using them. The players use the steroids even though they are illegal in the United States, unless prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition.
The International Olympic Committee has a stringent rule against steroids and has suspended several athletes over the years and has taken away Olympic medals because of the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
According to a report by National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s estimated that since the 1950s, some athletes have been taking anabolic steroids to build muscle and boost their athletic performance. The report says studies show that, over time, anabolic steroids can take a heavy toll on a person’s health. The abuse of oral or injectable steroids is associated with higher risks for heart attacks and strokes, and the abuse of most oral steroids is associated with increased risk for liver problems.
Last season Caminiti played with the Texas Rangers where he hit .232 with nine home runs and 25 RBI. After the Rangers released him in July, he was picked up by the Atlanta Braves where he batted .222 with six homers and 16 RBI.
In 1987, Caminiti made his major league debut with the Houston Astros after coming up in their farm system. He was traded to San Diego in 1994.