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February 18, 2009 at 8:30 am ET
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Umpire Tim McClelland: ‘I can’t fault a player (for taking steroids)’

Appearing at an awards dinner last night in Des Moines, Iowa, Major League umpire Tim McClelland said he’s tired of the constant steroid talk and said he knew firsthand from catchers that performance-enhancing drugs were rampant in Major League Baseball.

“They used it to make themselves better,” McClelland said. “I can’t fault a player for doing that. It was not against the rules of baseball, so I can’t fault a player for trying to make himself better.”

The MLB banned performance enhancers in 2004. In spite of efforts to clean up the game, not every substance shows up in a test.

“I had a catcher tell me, ‘Us peons have to get off steroids; we can’t afford them,'” McClelland said. “He said the guys that make the big money, because they put up the big numbers, can get the synthetic steroids, and they can stay on them, and that’s not fair.

“What he was telling me is that there were a lot of guys on steroids.” — Iowa City Press-Citizen

McClelland, a native of Des Moines, was the guest speaker last night at the sixth annual Iowa Baseball Lead-Off Dinner. The umpire in the George Brett Pine Tar Game, McClelland is best known to contemporary baseball fans as that slow-moving hump who takes forever to announce calls behind home plate.

Anyway, it’s interesting to hear steroid commentary from a highly respected umpire who’s still in the game, especially when he can confirm what we always suspected: Backup catchers get the worst drugs.

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