The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt reports that the Congressional committee that Sammy Sosa testified before in 2005 — famously speaking in Spanish, rather than English — has decided not to charge Sammy Sosa with perjury despite the fact that he was later revealed to have tested positive for PEDs prior to his testimony.
A couple of things here:
1. I’m not quite sure how this is news. The hearing took place in March 2005. It is now May 2010. The statute of limitations for perjury is five years, so I’m struggling to see how charges could be filed even if they tried. I guess Schmidt is just trying to get back in steroids-writing practice in anticipating of the Roger Clemens business coming soon.
2. Even if the statute hadn’t run, it seems very clear to me that Sosa didn’t lie to the committee despite the fact that he apparently took PEDs of some kind before 2005.
As I wrote last year, it’s not true that Sosa denied taking steroids before Congress. He said
“To be clear, I have never taken illegal
performance-enhancing drugs.” He said “I have not broken the laws of
the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic.” He said “I
tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.” Those statements all allow for the possibility
that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that
would have been illegal to use in the United States, such as steroids or HGH.
We don’t know for sure, though, because neither the members of that Congressional committee nor the multiple lawyers they had on staff, sitting there in the room bothered to ask the basic sorts of
followup questions when faced with obvious qualifications like Sosa was offering. If they had pressed them on it — say, asked him whether he took PEDs, whether legally or illegally, in the United States or at home in the D.R. — he could have been in a serious jam.
But they didn’t. My theory as to why? They didn’t really care. As is the case with every other bit of congressional involvement in steroids, the 2005 hearings were designed for P.R. purposes and to show voters that Congressman Whoever knew how to stick it to those cheating ballplayers who defied God, mugged Hank Aaron and pooped in Mom’s apple pie or whatever. It wasn’t a serious legal proceeding and never was meant to be.
Still, Roger Clemens could get charged with perjury sometime soon. But then again, he’s always done things more audaciously than anyone. Including, we may find out, lying.