Saying he was “naive” to have been silent for so long, former Braves superstar Dale Murphy tells the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron he was never offered steroids, but “I don’t think it would have taken more than one conversation to get them.”
Murphy, who won back-to-back MVPs in 1982-83, has started a non-profit foundation called “I Won’t Cheat” (iwontcheat.com) to rid sports of drugs, and educate kids about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and the ethical issues involved in using them. Drug experts estimate that as many as a million high schoolers use steroids in a given year.
The former Braves All-Star is particularly disgusted with the game that he played for 18 years, which opens its season tonight. It’s a season in which tainted slugger Barry Bonds is pursuing one of the game’s most hallowed records, Hank Aaron’s all-time home run mark. Doping will be a baseball story all season and Murphy has been making noise about it in radio and print interviews recently, applauding the vote that kept Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame and calling Bonds’ quest “disappointing.”
“He’s gone about his career the wrong way,” Murphy says of Bonds. “I’m very indifferent to what he’s accomplishing. He would’ve accomplished great things in baseball without getting involved with this stuff.
“I don’t think we should acknowledge performances that are not legitimate. I don’t know why more people don’t feel that way. I guess the technical answer is that he hasn’t failed a drug test. I say, ‘Come on.’ Not failing a test doesn’t mean anything to me. People have told us that you have to be an idiot to not pass a steroid test. I hate to say those things publicly, but this is the stuff our kids know.”
Murphy, 51, might have just the resume needed to get through to kids and their parents, says Dr. Gary Wadler, an NYU professor who is an expert on drug use in sports.
“Clearly, we need some positive role models who achieved at the highest levels, committed to fair play and a level playing field,” Wadler says. “Somebody with his credentials, which are legion, is important and he’s current enough for his words to resonate. As an elite athlete, he kept his eye on the ethical ball and that’s a message he has to get out.”
Indeed, with the possible exception of Stephen Baldwin, I can’t imagine another public figure whose message is so likely to resonate with today’s young people.