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Merloni: Sox never encouraged steroid use

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  May 10, 2009 06:01 PM

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Former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni said he wasn't backtracking on anything he said on Comcast's "The Baseball Show" Saturday concerning a spring training meeting he attended in which he heard a doctor explain "and educate" how to use steroids properly without abusing them. But Merloni said that in no way did anyone from the Red Sox organization, or the doctor who spoke to that team that day, ever encourage the use of steroids.

Whether the Red Sox counseled players on how to use steroids remains a bone of contention between Merloni and former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette.

"It was like teaching your teenage daughter about sex education," said Merloni. "The organization acknowledged that there were likely players using steroids and basically 'if you're gonna use them this is how you use them so you don't abuse them.'"

Merloni did not remember who the doctor was that spoke to the team but said that a former head trainer told Merloni that the team acknowledged that players were using them. Merloni said he couldn't remember when the meeting took place. He had been with the Sox minor league system in 1996-97 and was also with the Red Sox from 1998-2002. The general manager for most of Merloni's tenure was Dan Duquette, who had a strong reaction to Merloni's words yesterday.

"It's ridiculous. It's totally unfounded," said Duquette. "Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is? If there was such a doctor he wasn't in the employ of the Red Sox. We brought in doctors to educate the players on the major league drug policy at the time at the recommendation of major league baseball. This is so ridiculous I hate to even respond to it."

Duquette added, "to suggest we gave counsel on steroid use is not accurate." Duquette said "I felt we had a responsibility to educate the players on steroid use and to emphasize to them that 1) it was against the law; 2) that it was against the rules because we had a testing program in place in the minors; and 3) to warn players of the health risks associated with steroid use."

Troy O'Leary, who played for the Sox from 1995-2001, was asked about a specific meeting where steroids were the topic of how to use properly was discussed.

"Don't really remember anything like that," said O'Leary. "I remember the normal union meetings in spring training where they'd talk about drugs and steroids, and I remember doctors talking negatively about them, but I don't remember ever hearing anything like 'OK, this is the right way to do steroids'. If that happened I missed that one. I'm afraid of needles so anything involving injection of anything, I wouldn't have done anyway."

Merloni said the following on "The Baseball Show" Saturday:

"I'm in spring training, and I got an 8:30-9:00 meeting in the morning. I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I'm sitting in the meeting. There's a doctor up there and he's talking about steroids, and everyone was like 'here we go, we're gonna sit here and get the whole thing -- they're bad for you.' No. He spins it and says 'you know what, if you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean, if you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you, abusing steroids it will.' He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I'm with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said 'what the heck was that?' And everybody on the team was like 'what was that?' And the response we got was 'well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they're taking it the right way'... Where did that come from? That didn't come from the Players Association."

Another prominent ex-player on the 2001 team does not recall such a meeting.

"It wasn't Dr. [Arthur] Pappas or anyone like that but I don't recall who it was," Merloni said. "We'd had many meetings and talks about how bad steroids were, but this one was different. It was the team acknowledging there were people taking it and they were trying to inform us about not abusing steroids. In no way were they telling us to take steroids or encouraging us to do so."

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