Report: Sosa tested positive in 2003
NEW YORK -- Sammy Sosa tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday on its Web site, the latest in a string of baseball stars implicated in the sport's steroids scandal of the past decade.
The Times said Sosa is one of 104 players who tested positive in baseball's anonymous 2003 survey, which has been the subject of a protracted court fight. The paper did not identify the drug.
It cited lawyers with knowledge of the 2003 drug-testing results and reported they spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly discuss material under court seal.
The New York Daily News reported Sosa worked out with trainer Angel Presinal from 2001 to 2003 in the Dominican Republic. Presinal, who also worked with Alex Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez, has been banned by Major League Baseball from its ballparks and clubhouses. He is still under investigation for his role with Rodriguez, who admitted in February to having used steroids, also from 2001 to 2003.
Sosa is sixth on baseball's career home run list with 609, all but 64 for the Chicago Cubs. He has not played in the majors since 2007 with Texas.
In 2003, baseball did not have penalties for the first-time positive tests of performance-enhancing drugs.
Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, told The Associated Press he had no comment on the report. Commissioner's office spokesman Rich Levin also had no comment, saying Major League Baseball didn't have a copy of the test results.
Michael Weiner, the union general counsel, also declined comment. The union, while fighting to get the list back from the government, has mostly refused to discuss reports about the list because it does not want to confirm or deny who is on it.
Miguel Tejada was sentenced to one year of probation for misleading Congress after he pleaded guilty in February of this year and admitted he withheld information about an ex-teammate's use of performance-enhancing drugs.
All In The Numbers?
Sammy Sosa is reportedly one of the 104 big league players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in 2003. Here's a look at Sosa's season averages from before that year and after:
|BA||.287||.243||*Did not play in 2006|
Sosa sat alongside Rafael Palmeiro, Canseco and McGwire at a 2005 hearing before a congressional committee, and his lawyer read a statement on behalf of Sosa: "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs."
"I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything," he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 17, 2005. "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."
That left open the possibility he used a substance legally in the Dominican Republic that would have been illegal to use in the United States without a prescription.
Former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who was chairman of the committee at the time of the 2005 hearing, said he wasn't surprised about the Sosa report.
"In his testimony before us, he was very careful," Davis told the AP in a telephone interview Wednesday. "He said he never did illegal drugs. Steroids were legal in the Dominican Republic."
Davis added that the goal of the hearing was not to put people behind bars.
"We were just trying to change policy, which we did," he said. "It was rampant during those times. These players -- they were going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone, and nobody was stopping them. We came in and started enforcing the speed limit."
Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who co-chaired the hearing, declined comment, spokeswoman Karen Lightfoot said.
Palmeiro, like Sosa, denied ever using PEDs in the now-infamous finger-wagging testimony before the committee, but not even two months later he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol, which led to a 10-day ban from baseball.
Bonds is under federal indictment, and Clemens is being investigated by a federal grand jury to determine whether he lied when he told Congress he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
We need to get it over with. Get those names out there. Whoever is guilty is guilty, whoever is not is not. Let baseball deal with it once and then move on. ” -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen
Canseco has written two books discussing his use of drugs.
"To just speculate from an era of how many years it was of who did and didn't do what, it's impossible," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said before Tuesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox was rained out. "It's just time to put that whole era behind us and move on."
Hendry, who has been the Cubs' GM since 2002, said that Sosa does belong in the Hall of Fame.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was angrier.
"It's really sad. Really sad," Guillen said. "We all should be embarrassed. No matter how you put it, you're not going to win. Every other week or every two weeks or whatever we have to talk about this or somebody out or another player. I think whoever's name is out there just bring it up and deal with it for one day and we don't have to sit here every day.
"We need to get it over with. Get those names out there. Whoever is guilty is guilty, whoever is not is not. Let baseball deal with it once and then move on. Every month we seem to talk about somebody and it's not a good thing. It's not healthy for the game."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella concurred that the names should be released but said it would "create a lot of havoc."
The entire thing is a mystery to Piniella.
"In the era I played, [performance-enhancing drug use] wasn't a problem. I wouldn't know a steroid from a reefer," Piniella said.
Former pitcher Pedro Martinez played against Sosa for many years.
"This news would make me feel terrible if it is proven that Sammy tested positive," Martinez said in the Dominican Republic.
"This is a problem of all of baseball, not just Dominican baseball. But in reality, this is a problem of education that has to be attacked," he said.
Sosa, now 40, and McGwire engaged in a race in 1998 to break Roger Maris' season record of 61 home runs, a chase that captivated the country. McGwire set the mark while Sosa, with a big smile and a trademark skip-hop out of the batter's box, finished with 66.
Sosa followed up by hitting 63, 50, 64 and 49 homers in his next four seasons. He hit 40 more in 2003, a season in which he was caught using a corked bat in front of the home crowd at Wrigley Field.
Baseball management's drug policy prohibited the use of steroids without a valid prescription since 1991, but the enforceability of those rules was repeatedly questioned by the union, which did not reach a drug agreement until August 2002. There were no penalties for a positive test in 2003 -- those were survey tests conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.
As part of the drug agreement, the results of the testing of 1,198 players in 2003 were meant to be anonymous. Penalties began in 2004, and suspensions for a first positive test started in 2005.
Government agents initially obtained search warrants in 2004 for the drug-testing records of 10 players as part of the BALCO investigation that led to Bonds' indictment, but they found the more expansive list on a spreadsheet, obtained additional warrants and seized the larger group of records.
The union went to court, arguing the search was illegal, and three U.S. District judges agreed. The government appealed, and a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the government, but the entire 9th Circuit threw out the reversal and decided to hear the case itself. The hearing was in December, and the decision is pending. The losing side could then appeal to the Supreme Court.
ESPNdeportes.com reported in early June that Sosa was planning on announcing his formal retirement from baseball soon and would not address allegations of steroid use.
"I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't I have the numbers to be inducted?" said Sosa, who presently serves the Dominican government as special ambassador for investment opportunities.
Cubs pitching great Ferguson Jenkins, himself a Hall of Fame player, believes otherwise.
"I don't think they [proven users of performance-enhancing drugs] belong in the Hall of Fame," Jenkins said. "The drugs probably enhanced their performances about 20 to 30 percent. Sammy was in his 30s when he was apparently using and it gave him an edge in homers and RBIs."
Information from Willie Weinbaum of the ESPN Enterprise Unit, George Smith of ESPN, ESPN.com senior writer Wayne Drehs and The Associated Press was used in this report.