Samuel and the Roberto Clemente Award in

Samuel “Sammy” Sosa is a retired baseball player best known for the 1998 single-season home run record race against Mark McGwire. Born on November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Sosa began his Major League Baseball career with the Texas Rangers, but his most notable years were with the Chicago Cubs. The right fielder won a number of awards throughout his 18-year professional baseball career, including six National League Silver Slugger Awards, seven appearances in the All-Star Game, five appearances as a Home Run Derby participant, including being the winner in 2000, and winning the National League Most Valuable Player award and the Roberto Clemente Award in 1998. Sosa hit 609 home runs over his MLB career, which currently places him at number nine on the MLB’s career home run leaders’ list.1 However, Sosa’s significant batting accomplishments have been surrounded with controversy after his name was leaked as having tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.The MLB and players union agreed upon having anonymous testing for PEDs starting in 2003 to determine whether doping was a problem in baseball. The players testing positive were to remain anonymous, however if it were found that more than five percent of players tested positive, the MLB would begin testing with penalties the following year. 104 players tested positive for banned substances, which triggered subsequent testing and punishments the following year. While this list from the 2003 testing was meant to remain anonymous, federal agents seized records and samples during an investigation into a company supplying undetectable PEDs to 2athletes. The New York Times first reported Sosa’s inclusion on the list in June of 2009. Lawyers who had access to the 2003 list for the federal investigation leaked a number of names, including Sosa’s, on the condition of anonymity. However, it is unknown for which substance Sosa tested positive.Sosa has maintained that he never used any banned substances during his career. After the New York Times article reported him as having tested positive in 2003, Sosa’s lawyer declined comment.2 Before the New York Times article was published, Sosa testified to Congress during a hearing on steroid use in baseball in 2005. Sosa was given flack after the testimony, which was given by a spokesperson on Sosa’s behalf, for his sudden inability to understand English. Sosa testified he had never used any illegal PEDs and that he had been tested clean in 2004. He also voiced his support for league-wide testing.3 Sosa more recently denied using PEDs during an interview with a former sports writer in February of 2017. When asked about the 1998 race with McGwire and the kind of memories it brought back, Sosa claimed he is clean and never failed a drug test. He went on to say that there is no evidence of him doping.4 McGwire, who was also named to the 2003 list as having tested positive for PEDs, later admitted to using steroids throughout his career, including during that 1998 season.5As Sosa has never admitted to PED use, the only year in question is 2003 when it is alleged he failed a random drug test. However, for which drug he tested positive is unknown.2 During his 2003 season, Sosa hit 40 home runs, which is not significantly different from his average of 37.3 home runs throughout his career (seasons where he played more than 100 games). However, when you look at the ratio of at bats versus home runs, his 2003 season at 12.925 was significantly lower than his career average (seasons where he played more than 100 games) of 17.102. Although there is no evidence that Sosa was doping during the 1998 season, his AB/HR that year was 9.74242, which is significantly lower than average, and much lower than the previous year in 1997 when his AB/HR was 17.83333.1 However, without a confession from Sosa or the release of the 2003 PED test results it would be impossible to say whether he was doping.While Sosa has never admitted to doping or been formerly charged or reprimanded for his alleged positive test in 2003, the conjecture has impacted popular opinion of him and is probably one of the reasons that he has yet to be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The first year eligible for voting in 2003, Sosa received only 12.5 percent of the vote, far below the 75 percent needed to be elected to membership.6 McGwire and other top hitters who have admitted to doping, or are suspected of doping, have also not been admitted. Sosa’s infamous corked bat incident in 2003, may also be a factor in his absence from the Hall.7 Recently, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told fans at a convention that Sosa would have to admit to doping to ever be invited to be part of the team in an official capacity.8 However, Sosa seems unlikely to do so in the near future; recently in an interview he compared the way he was being treated to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.4

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