MLB legends Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are back in the spotlight thanks to the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Long Gone Summer. The film details the 1998 baseball season which unfortunately has been linked to rumors of steroid use.
After years of denial, McGwire finally admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The former slugger released a matter-of-fact statement to the Associated Press in 2010.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” McGwire said in the statement, per NPR.org. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
Sosa on Steroids: ‘Never Had a Positive Test’
Sosa has been much more evasive on whether he used steroids during his career. During a 2018 interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, Sosa chose to focus on not testing positive for steroids rather than a full-out denial.
“I never had a test positive in this country,” Sosa noted.
Even this may not be true as The New York Times reported that Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Sosa testified under oath before Congress that he had “never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”
Schaap pressed Sosa on the difference between testing positive and taking the drugs as there have been cases where athletes doctored tests to enable them to pass. Sosa once again referred back to not testing positive for steroids.
Asked again specifically if he used performance-enhancing drugs, Sosa told Schaap, “No, my friend.”
“Never?” asked Schaap.
“No, I never missed any test at the major league level,” said Sosa.
Pushed one more time whether he was saying he never took PEDs, Sosa said, “Once again, I never tested positive.”
Former Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly recalled a conversation he had with Sosa back in 2002.
“He said: I want to be the first to be tested. I want to show everybody I’m clean,” Reilly noted to Chicago Tribune. “I was dumb enough to think he might go, like he was really serious. ..“Foam was coming out of his mouth. His eyes got the size of small dinner plates and he started screaming at me in Spanish and English. In Spanish it was something about my mother. In English it was: You think you’re my father? …He said: ‘You’re gonna get me in trouble!’ Well, what trouble could there be if you’re clean? That really (ticked) him off. He said: ‘You’re trying to get me thrown out of the players’ union.’ ”
McGwire Said He Took Steroids for ‘Health Purposes’
McGwire admitted to using steroids but dismissed the idea that it contributed to hitting home runs. During an interview on MLB Network in 2010, McGwire told Bob Costas that he was given a “gift to hit home runs.”
“I was given a gift to hit home runs,” McGwire noted, per ESPN. “I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for health purposes.”
McGwire did not specify the drugs he used noting he tried “injectables” but “preferred the orals.” McGwire admitted to the Associated Press that he “hid it from everybody.”
“It’s very emotional, it’s telling family members, friends and coaches, you know, it’s former teammates to try to get ahold of, you know, that I’m coming clean and being honest,” McGwire explained, per ESPN. “It’s the first time they’ve ever heard me, you know, talk about this. I hid it from everybody.”