No such list could ever be made without mentioning Barry Lamar Bonds. The man “transformed” from a lithe and athletic two-way player to a hulking power hitter that smashed home runs further and more frequently than any player in MLB history. His 762 carer home runs will forever be marked with an asterisk thanks to his acknowledgment of “unknowingly” using the topical steroids colloquially referred to as “the cream” and “the clear.”
Ryan Braun joined the 30/30 club in 2011 — hitting 33 home runs and stealing 33 bases that season — but also got busted that season after testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone and a banned substance. Looking down the barrel of a 50 game suspension, he vehemently denied any such PED usage, and even received public support from famous friends like Aaron Rodgers of the nearby Green Bay Packers. Yet, the only way Braun could win his suspension appeal was through a technicality based on incompetence and gross misconduct of the individual who took Braun’s (untampered) sample.
One of the forefathers of steroid use in baseball, Ken Caminiti went from a player who went back-and-forth between the majors and minors, and struggled with injuries early in his career, to a league MVP and three-time Gold Glove award-winner. He eventually revealed to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated that he took steroids in 1996 (the season when he won the MVP award) to help recover from a shoulder injury. This became one of the first pieces of evidence of how steroids could positively and significantly alter the performance of baseball players who happened to use it.
Jose Canseco was a combination of one of the original pioneers, the pied piper, and the ultimate whistleblower, when it came to the recent steroid scandal affecting professional baseball. Let’s put aside his own steroid use, which he makes almost zero denials of. His book called “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” outed dozens of players who eventually were eventually confirmed for use of PED’s.
How’s this for being on the “hot list” for steroid use? Jose Canseco called Roger Clemens an “expert on steroids,” and the infamous Mitchell Report on PED use in baseball mentioned Clemens name 82 times. Clemens’ long-time teammate and best-friend (or former best-friend?) Andy Pettitte even testified that Clemens told him of about his use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Of course, as many players of this era tended to do, Clemens continually denies any such wrongdoing.
Jason Giambi was a home-grown talent developed by the cash-strapped Oakland Athletics, who turned into a giant power hitter that would eventually sign a seven-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers got their return on investment in Giambi’s first two seasons in New York, but once his name came up in the 2003 BALCO investigation for PED use, everything changed. Eventually, he reportedly admitted to using steroids to a federal grand jury.
For a while, Mark McGuire was a real-life American super hero. His Paul Bunyan-esque frame, professional wrestler-sized biceps, and ability to smash home runs farther and more frequently than anyone else captured the attention of an entire nation. But, his legend eventually came crashing down when he was outed by former teammate Jose Canseco, and eventually admitted to having used steroids. Instead of his home run chase or brief stint as the single-season home run king, he’s now most famously known for his tearful apology in front of Congress, regarding his potential use of PED’s.
It’s one thing when you’re lying, and you try to get yourself out of it. It’s an entirely different thing when you’re on the hot seat for lying, and you double-down on that lie by pointing your finger in front of a congressional panel and adamantly lie again. The latter is exactly what Rafael Palmeiro did in the 2005 Congressional hearings on PED use. Ironically, he was suspended for testing positive for steroids; Congress almost brought charges of perjury against him, before deciding they had insufficient evidence to convict him.
On one hand, Mike Piazza openly admitted to using androstenedoine — a steroid — before it was banned by the MLB. He also admitted, in an off-the-record interview, that he used PED’s (which was corroborated by other players). The problem is that Piazza claims it had no improving effect on his play. Who is he trying to fool, exactly?
He just seemed like he was too care-free and happy-go-lucky to ever bother with something like PED’s. This was a guy who’d frequently forget to cash game checks worth six figures each; how could he possibly remember to take the right dosages of such drugs? And yet, he’s another guy on this list. At first, he tested positive for unusually elevated testosterone levels, which he attributed to a woman’s fertility drug that he was prescribed (which was commonly used by athletes coming off steroid cycles). Eventually, he was not only on the 2003 report for players who tested positive for PED’s, he also tested positive again in 2011. Instead of facing his 100 game suspension for the positive drug test, he just decided to retire.
For a long while, it seemed like Alex Rodriguez was the one true hope that Major League Baseball had, as far as a player who would set record based on his (non-enhanced) talent alone. Alas, that dream was shattered as well. In 2009, it was revealed that Rodriguez teted positive for PED’s in 2003, and he eventually confessed to using steroids after signing with the Texas Rangers (while Jose Canseco happened to be on the same team).
It seems like wherever Jose Canseco went, steroid use would soon follow. Ivan Rodriguez was previously a quick-twitched but somewhat portly catcher; hence the nickname “Pudge.” But heading into the 1999 season, he was nearly 30lbs lighter, boasting a svelte and sculpted physique. Rodriguez ended up winning the MVP award that year, and Canseco personally saw to it to brag that he injected many players on that Rangers team himself with steroids.
What else do you expect when Gary Sheffield had Barry Bonds as his mentor and training partner? Bonds basically told Sheffield to do what he did. Sheffield later admitted to using the same “cream and the clear” to help with healing his surgically repaired knee, based on Bonds’ recommendation.
Sosa became a household name in the mid-1990’s after he dueled with Mark McGwire, in pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season record of 62 home runs. Unfortunately, like many players of that era who put up career-best and eye-popping numbers, Sosa allegedly was on a list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. He dodged questions at the 2005 Congressional hearings on performance enhancing drugs (PED) use in baseball, instead having his attorney read a statement that denied having used any such drugs.
Miguel Tejada was launched under the bus by two of the prime offenders on this list. First, Rafael Palmeiro alleged that his positive test came as a result of tainted needles provided by Tejada. Jose Canseco’s book made a conjecture about Tejada possibly using PED’s because he entered spring training with a more defined body. However, the Mitchell report not only confirmed Tejada’s PED use, but even goes as far as reporting received $1,500 worth of steroids. He was charged with lying to Congress about his PED use, and he pleaded guilty to those charges. His tearful apology helped him avoid a prison sentence; he was given one year of probation instead.