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Mark McGwire doping admission may not help Hall of Fame shot

By Josh Hargreaves

TORONTO (Reuters) - Mark McGwire's admission that he used steroids during his Major League Baseball career will probably not boost his chances of gaining entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, experts said on Tuesday.

McGwire, who has been listed on the Hall of Fame ballot for the last four years, has earned roughly 20 percent of the vote each year, well short of the 75 percent minimum needed to earn a plaque in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Murray Chass, a voting member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America since 1962, said McGwire's Hall chances were tough before his admission of steroid use and may not have improved since.

"Some voters have said if (McGwire) doesn't admit to using steroids then I can't vote for him. Then he admits it and (the voters) say, well he admitted he used steroids, how can I vote for him?" Chass told Reuters in a telephone interview.

McGwire, who will make his debut as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals this season, said the admission of steroid use had nothing to do with increasing his chances of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I'm not here doing this for the Hall of Fame. I'm doing this for me, to get this off my chest," he said in an interview aired on the MLB Network on Monday.

One positive for McGwire is that his admission has forced some voters to finally take a deeper look at career achievements.

"I have not voted for him because I thought it was the simplest thing to do, but I think the time is coming where I'll have to make a decision, and I'm not looking forward to it, because it's very difficult decision," said Chass.

During his 16-year career McGwire belted 583 home runs, putting him eighth on the all-time list, knocked in 1,414 RBI and was named to 12 All-Star teams.

Tim Kurkjian, senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, believes McGwire should be enshrined in Cooperstown and has voted for him four times.

Kurkjian feels that with no concrete evidence as to how many players used steroids and what effect they have on overall performance, he is left to consider the raw numbers.

And to Kurkjian, McGwire's numbers make him a Hall of Famer. However, he feels his opinion is in the minority.

"There is absolutely no chance that Mark McGwire will go to the Hall of Fame on the writers' ballot," said Kurkjian.

That leaves only the veterans' committee, who Kurkjian believes will take an even tougher stance on steroid use.

If a significant number of core voters stick to their policy of never voting for a player connected with steroid use, Kurkjian says a disturbing trend could result.

"It's not going to be much of a Hall of Fame 15 years from now if 10 of the best players of an era have all the numbers to get in but are not in," said Kurkjian.

(Writing by Josh Hargreaves, editing by Frank Pingue and Nick Mulvenney)

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