The image of professional baseball has, by and large, been an idyllic and relatively unblemished one from its roots as the national pastime in the mid-1800s until the latter part of the 20th century. Aside from the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to cheat, to "fix" the World Series, nothing has rocked the game as much as the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED). Since revelations about players using such substances as steroids and human growth hormones have come to light, the time period stretching from the late 1980s and into the turn of the century has become known as the Steroid Era. Early whispers, rumblings, and rumors of illegal use of PED were proven to be true when, in 2002, Ken Caminiti became the first professional baseball player to admit that he had used steroids; Caminiti had used them for several seasons beginning in 1996, when he was the National League's Most Valuable Player. Soon many observers became suspicious of not only the enormous size of many other players, but also of the astronomical offensive numbers those men were achieving. It was not until the U.S. Congress decided to intervene that charges of steroid usage in baseball began to command bold headlines and credibility across the nation. On March 17, 2005, several top players, including Mark McGwire and Palmeiro, testified before a congressional panel. McGwire, who had seven years earlier broken one of baseball's most venerated records—for the most home runs hit in a season—repeatedly refused to answer congress members' questions about whether he had used steroids. Palmeiro emphatically stated he had done nothing wrong as he dramatically pointed his finger at the congressional panel and avowed, "I have never used steroids. Period." On August 1, 2005, he was suspended for using steroids.
On February 7, 2009, Sports Illustrated revealed that Rodriguez "was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in...
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