NEW YORK -- For the good of the game, Rich "Goose" Gossage said on Tuesday, players who used performance-enhancing drugs should "fess up and then get on with life."
On the day Gossage was elected by a wide margin into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the right-handed closer was asked during a conference call whether superstar players of the so-called "steroid area," such as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, are cheaters.
Bonds, the all-time leader with 762 homers, is being tried in a San Francisco court on four counts of perjury and one for obstruction of justice after allegedly lying to a grand jury about his drug use. Clemens, the active leader with 354 victories, was named in the Mitchell Report as having been injected with multiple shots of steroids and human growth hormone during a four-year period from 1998 to 2001.
Both players are fighting the allegations.
"If you did it, you should come clean," said Gossage, who played during an era when the drug of choice was amphetamines and a number of players were arrested for the use and sale of cocaine. "[Andy] Pettitte came clean. Other guys admitted it. Life is going to go on. I think if you did do performance-enhancing drugs, you need to come clean and put an end to this because of the history of the game and how great baseball has been over such a long period of time.
"What we have here is the greatest part of the game, the history of it. They can't allow steroids or anything else to get in the way of the history of the game."
But Gossage stopped short of placing any particular blame yet on Bonds or Clemens. Bonds pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges and Clemens has filed a civil suit against Brian McNamee, his former personal trainer who told federal investigators and Mitchell that he had injected both Clemens and Pettitte with performance-enhancing drugs.
Pettitte has since admitted that McNamee injected him twice with HGH in what he said was an attempt to return from an injury. Bonds and Clemens have vociferously stated publicly that they never used steroids, testosterone or HGH. Clemens said he will testify under oath to that fact in front of a Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C., next Wednesday.
"It still remains to be seen if [Clemens] used them and whether Bonds used them," Gossage said. "We'll see what comes out of these investigations. I'm glad the Mitchell Report was done. I'm glad it shed some light on this. Now we've got to figure out who's telling the truth. And I think that some day we will know the truth. It's kind of weird that these guys had some of their most productive years as they got older when most guys during the history of the game saw their own talents diminishing.
"We'll have to just wait and see if these guys come clean and finally put an end to this ... I'll tell you what, if they find they did do performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants and that HGH, then I think it needs to be dealt with. There's just too much at stake with the great players and the history of the game. All the great players who played the game before them were on a level playing field. I can't say this is a level playing field."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.