By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Scrutiny over the same batch of supposedly anonymous 2003 urine samples that led to February's damaging steroids disclosures about Alex Rodriguez shifted yesterday toward another prodigious slugger, when a published report named Sammy Sosa as one of the players who tested positive that season for performance-enhancing drugs.
According to a report on the Web site of the New York Times, Sosa, now 40, tested positive for an undisclosed substance while with the Chicago Cubs. The report cited unnamed lawyers familiar with the results. Sosa, who hasn't played in the major leagues since 2007, has long been suspected as a steroids user, and he was among the players summoned before the House Government Reform Committee for an infamous 2005 hearing that still stands as one of the enduring images of the so-called Steroids Era. The latest disclosure will cast further doubt on the validity of his accomplishments, including his 609 career homers and his status as the only player in history with three 60-homer seasons.
Sosa's 2005 House testimony, in which he said he had never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs, could subject him to an investigation for possible perjury charges. A message left with a committee spokesman last night was not immediately returned.
For baseball, the report extends what has become another season of steroids angst, as first Rodriguez, then Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramírez, were fingered for positive tests -- joining former superstars Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens among the ranks of the tainted. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney yesterday said the league would have no comment on the report.
Rodriguez, the New York Yankees' third baseman, was revealed by Sports Illustrated to have tested positive for steroids in 2003; he later confirmed the substance of the report, but was not subject to discipline because the offense occurred at a time when baseball did not punish users.
Ramírez, meantime, tested positive in May for a banned female fertility drug often used by steroids users to restart natural testosterone production following a "cycle" of drugs. He received a 50-game suspension and is eligible to return July 3.
The 2003 tests that felled Rodriguez and now Sosa were part of baseball's first foray into steroids testing, as the sport sought to find out whether steroids use by players went beyond the 5 percent threshold required to trigger further testing -- which it did.
But the supposedly anonymous results were never destroyed and were subsequently seized by the government as part of its investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.