Pettitte Apologizes for Using Hormones

New York Yankees' pitcher Andy Pettitte held a news conference on Monday where he apologized for using human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004. The All Star said he wasn't hiding any other drug use.

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STEVEN INSKEEP, host:

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte did something yesterday that few, if any, prominent athletes have done in recent times. He spoke openly and honestly about using banned performance-enhancing drugs.

(Soundbite of audio)

Mr. ANDY PETTITTE (Pitcher, New York Yankees): I know that once I have this press conference and talk to everybody about this and share everything with you - I think the truth will set you free and I think I'm going to be able to sleep a lot better.

INSKEEP: Last December, Pettitte was named in a report on doping in baseball as having used human growth hormone, which was banned in the game in 2005. Recently, he provided sworn testimony that implicated his longtime friend and teammate Roger Clemens, who still denies any wrongdoing. And then yesterday, Pettit spoke to reporters for nearly an hour after showing up for spring training in Florida.

NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman is covering this story. And Tom, you think Pettitte is sleeping any better?

TOM GOLDMAN: I think there's a good chance. You know, put what Pettitte said into recent context. We've heard athletes go in front of microphones and insist they're telling the truth when, in fact, they're not. We've heard athletes supposedly come clean.

And they give us stuff like Paul Lo Duca - the Washington Nationals catcher -he was named in the Mitchell Report. This past weekend, he issued a statement apologizing for mistakes in judgment. He showed up for spring training. Steve, reporters asked if the Mitchell Report were accurate. He said, no comment. When asked what he was apologizing for, he said, come on, bro, next question.

So that's what's refreshing about Pettitte. Several times he answered questions and asked the reporter, have I answered your question? And he talked about some really painful stuff. None more so than the admission of a second time that he used human growth hormone. Now, he initially admitted using in 2002, but then in his sworn testimony, he said he also took it in 2004 and he got it from his dad, who had access because he was dealing with health issues. And Pettitte spoke about that yesterday.

(Soundbite of press conference)

Mr. PETTITTE: Did I want to bring that up? No, I didn't. But I knew I was going to be put under oath, and it was something that I had to share. You know, my dad from the get-go wanted me to throw him out there, you know. I had to, you know.

INSKEEP: That's Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees. We're with NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

And, Tom, I want to ask about Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, his teammate. Pettitte made a statement about Clemens' own alleged use of banned substances -that he got the stuff from Brian McNamee - that was used in a congressional hearing against Clemens. Did Pettitte talk about that?

GOLDMAN: Minimally. Clemens has sued Brian McNamee for defamation. Both of those men could still be the target of a perjury investigation. So there are potential legal proceedings, which is why Pettitte said he couldn't answer much on that subject.

Now, Pettitte said in a deposition and an affidavit before the hearing that Clemens admitted using HGH in a conversation with Pettitte about 10 years ago. Clemens, at the hearing, said Pettitte misremembered. When asked about that yesterday, Pettitte simply said he testified under oath. Clemens said what he had to say. So there was no direct accusation against Clemens, but Pettitte implied he was being truthful.

INSKEEP: Okay. So what happens to a star pitcher after he's admitted to using human growth hormone, and then comes back and wants to pitch in front of the fans again?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, certainly the fans on the road. He says he's expecting some rough treatment. Pettitte says, you know, he'll try to focus as best he can. He hopes people believe him when he says that he didn't use human growth hormone to get an edge but instead to heal injuries. And he knows some won't, however.

Mr. PETTITTE: There's people probably that you may never be able to win back. And I hate that, because I care. I care. I mean, I care about what people think of me. I care - I think - I consider myself a role model. I try to be a positive influence on kids. So, you know, that hurts, you know, from that standpoint.

GOLDMAN: Now, Steve, Andy Pettitte says he doesn't think he'll be suspended by Major League Baseball for his admitted drug use. The baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, said yesterday he's still reviewing cases of players named in the Mitchell Report.

INSKEEP: Thanks, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. This is NPR News.

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