Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Baltimore Oriole teammates Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro both testified before the House Government Reform Committee, and said they have never used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and Chicago White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas, both outspoken on steroid use, also testified and were named to co-chair an advisory committee to battle the use of steroids.
Mark McGwire, who was a teammate of Jose Canseco's in Oakland for seven years (1986-92), refused to indicate whether he used steroids in the past, and said he wouldn't answer any questions in fear he would implicate other current or ex-players.
Last month brought the official release of Canseco's book entitled, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big." In it, Canseco, admits to using steroids during his career and accuses a number of ex-teammates -- notably Jason Giambi, McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez -- of also using steroids.
McGwire, Palmeiro and Schilling were visibly upset that Canseco's book brought names to the forefront.
"To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs," Sosa said in a prepared statement through his representative. "I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything. I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004 and I am clean."
Palmeiro said he was clean, and had a few choice words for Canseco.
"I have never used steroids, period," Palmeiro said. "I do not know how to say it more clearly than that. Never. The reference to me in Mr. Canseco's book is absolutely false. I am against the use of steroids. I don't think athletes should use steroids and I don't think our kids should use them. The point of view is one unfortunately that is not shared by our former colleague, Mr. Canseco. Mr. Canseco is an unashamed advocate for increased steroid use by all athletes."
In Canseco's book, he claimed he and McGwire injected steroids together in the bathroom stalls at Oakland Coliseum. McGwire refused to say under oath if he used performance-enhancing drugs.
"It should be enough that you consider the source of the statements in the book," McGwire added. "Many inconsistencies and contradictions have already been raised.
"I have been advised of my testimony here can be used to harm friends and respected teammates. Asking me or any other player who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers 'no' he simply will not be believed. If he answers 'yes'. he risks public scorn and endless government investigations. My lawyers have advised me I can not answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself. I intend to follow their advice."
The committee denied Canseco and all other witnesses immunity for Thursday's hearing. Because of this Canseco said he would be unable to answer detailed questions in fear of being incriminated.
Thomas gave his opening statement via video conference call due to an injured ankle that swells up when in an airplane.
All of the players were subpoenaed to appear before the committee. Union head Donald Fehr, MLB executive VPs Rob Manfred and Sandy Alderson will also appear, along with San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers and Commissioner Bud Selig.
Earlier in the day, lawmakers lashed out at Major League Baseball's revamped steroids testing policy.
On January 13, MLB revealed it had reached an agreement on a new steroids testing program in which a first-time offender would be suspended for 10 days. Second- time offenders would face a 30-day suspension. Third-time offenders would be suspended for 60 days and fourth-time offenders would face a one-year penalty, and all suspensions would be without pay.
The policy was delivered on Monday to the Committee, but committee chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), the committee's ranking minority member, noted it to be "still in draft form." According to the policy, obtained by The Sports Network, there is a choice of either a suspension or a fine stepping up from a maximum of $10,000 for first- time offenders. That increases to a maximum of $25,000 for second- time offenders, $50,000 for a third penalty, and a maximum of $100,000 for a fourth-time offender.
Manfred issued a statement Wednesday night saying despite the language in the policy, all players who tested positive would be suspended.
"It looks like baseball has taken a first baby step toward restoring honesty to the game, but if they backslide or don't follow through, then the owners and players need to know we can and will act," said Senator Jim Bunning (R- KY), a Hall of Famer who played in the majors from 1955-71. "Personally, I think the penalties are really puny. I'd like to see much stronger ones. What's happening in baseball now is not natural and it's not right."