Another big name baseball slugger has been named as a possible user of performance enhancing drugs. A report on The New York Times website claims Sammy Sosa tested positive in 2003. This is the same round of testing that snared Alex Rodriguez earlier this year.
The Times report does not name the drug Sosa allegedly used. The report relies on unnamed lawyers who have knowledge of the drug testing results of that year.
In 2003 Major League Baseball conducted its first round of drug testing, resulting in 104 players testing positive. The testing that year was supposed to remain anonymous, but for some reason the results were never destroyed, and were eventually seized by government agents investigating the BALCO steroids scandal.
A lawyer for Sosa would not comment on the story. But Sosa has always vehemently denied using steroids or other illegal drugs. Just this month, he told ESPN Deportes:
"Everything I achieved, I did it thanks to my perseverance, which is why I never had any long, difficult moments [as a baseball player]... I always played with love and responsibility and I assure you that I will not answer nor listen to rumors. If anything ugly comes up in the future, we will confront it immediately, but with all our strength because I will not allow anybody to tarnish what I did in the field."
Sosa has long been suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, but there was never a positive test as proof. He testified at a 2005 Congressional hearing that he never used illegal drugs. Here's what he said that day:
"I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything... I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean."
The wording of the statement left open the possibility that he used a substance legally in the Dominican Republic that would have been illegal to use in the United States without a prescription. Either way, if this report is true, Sosa could face possible perjury charges.
Sosa and Mark McGwire electrified the baseball world with their epic home run chase in 1998. McGwire, who is also suspected of using illegal drugs, wound up with 70 that year. Sosa had 66 -- his first of three 60 home run seasons. Sosa hasn't played since 2007, recently officially retired and is sixth on the all time home run list with 609.