Former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, unlike his rival in the historic home run chase of 1998, has never admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
And Sosa, in a recent interview with E:60's Jeremy Schaap, deflected the question each time he was asked specifically whether he had ever taken performance-enhancing drugs.
"I never had a test positive in this country," said Sosa, who talked about his career in baseball and his life outside the game in the wide-ranging interview.
Reminded that The New York Times had reported in 2009 that he did test positive, Sosa replied, "A lot of people did ... a lot of people got out in that paper."
The Times reported Sosa's name came up among 104 players who tested positive in 2003, before Major League Baseball had instituted penalties for a positive test.
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."
Mark McGwire and Sosa, now 49, famously battled each other all season 20 years ago, when both players blasted past Roger Maris' MLB record of 61 home runs that had stood since 1961. McGwire finished with 70 home runs, Sosa with 66.
In 2010, McGwire admitted that he had used steroids off and on for nearly a decade.
But Sosa, who is ninth all time with 609 home runs, including three seasons that topped 60, never made any such admission.
His most famous denial came before a 2005 Congressional hearing investigating the use of steroids in baseball.
Sosa, in a statement read by his attorney, testified that everything he had heard "about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are bad for you, even lethal" and that he "would never put anything dangerous like that" into his body.
"To be clear," he added, "I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything."
Sosa's full interview with Schaap airs on E:60 this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.