It has been almost a decade since The New York Times reported that former Chicago Cubs great Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but Sosa remains adamant he never failed a test.
That's according to ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, who asked Sosa at least four different times this week whether the seven-time All-Star, who last played in 2007 with the Texas Rangers, actually used PEDs. Still awaiting what once may have been a surefire Hall of Fame induction, the 49-year-old Sosa repeatedly told Schaap he stayed clean.
"I never had a test positive in this country," Sosa said, later adding that he "never missed any test at the major league level" and "never tested positive."
His remarks echo his statement at a 2005 hearing before U.S. Congress, in which he testified alongside Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco and promised he had "never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs." McGwire, Sosa's rival and friend in the home run race of 1998, has admitted he used steroids,
When pressed by Schaap about why his name appeared in The Times' 2009 report, which centered on more than 100 players who apparently failed 2003 MLB drug tests, Sosa simply said he wasn't the only one identified in those allegations.
"A lot of people got out in that paper," he said.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, for what it's worth, went on record in 2016 to say the 2003 findings may have inaccurately painted certain players as wrongdoers, urging Hall of Fame voters to consider only confirmed test results and suggesting "it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter, and not banned under our program" during that time.
Sosa, who officially retired in 2009, began his MLB career with the Rangers and Chicago White Sox before starring with the Cubs from 1992-2004. He finished with the ninth-most home runs in league history (609) and was famous in part for his 1998 home-run tear, which saw him hit a career-high 66 dingers in competition with McGwire, who set a new record with 70.