7 Baseball Players Who Used Steroids (The List Exposed)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 24, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Recently at Total Shape, we started discussing which top professional baseball players used steroids in the past.

The list ended up being quite long, so we decided to narrow it down to the best baseball players who would have easily been inducted into the hall of fame if they hadn’t been exposed as PED users.

We’ve also done thorough research to verify the information and create this list of the most famous names in this sport who used illegal PED.

Let’s dive in.

7 Star MLB Players Who Used Steroids

Steroid products for doping

The players we've listed below are some of the biggest names in baseball history whose careers and legacies have been tainted by steroid scandals.

1. Jose Canseco

Starting us off is a man quoted saying that his entire career history was a steroid experiment.

Canseco started his rookie season with the Rookie of the Year award in 1986 at the beginning of the steroid era. He followed it up with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award two years later.


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A post shared by Jose Canseco (@josecanseco)

In 1988, when he was the American League MVP, Jose hit 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases, becoming the first to do it in a single season.

Canseco also has the record for the longest home run in Toronto’s Skydome.

But in the end, it turned out that it was all, at least partially, due to cheating.

His Infamous Books

His 2005 book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big'', became the biggest scandal in the major leagues since the segregation era. In his memoir, Jose gave names and asserted that 85% of MLB players were doping.

The people he ratted out include Mcgwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Jason Giambi.

Two years after his first book, he published another memoir, “Vindicated,” where he exposed Alex Rodriguez as a steroid user.

2 Alex Rodriguez

Before the steroid scandal, Alex “ A-Rod” Rodriguez was considered one of the absolute best. Many had him on the top five, dead or alive, to ever grace the baseball pitch.


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A post shared by Alex Rodriguez (@arod)

Alex's unmatched speed, power, and defense earned him 14 All-Star titles, 10 Silver Sluggers, and three MVPs, making him the youngest to hit 500 home runs.

Yet, Jose Canseco's book "Vindicated" cast a shadow, alleging A-Rod's link to steroids through a supplier named Max, which Rodriguez initially denied.

The plot thickened in 2009 when it surfaced that A-Rod failed a 2003 PED test with the Texas Rangers. He eventually admitted to doping from 2001 to 2003 but claimed to have stopped after joining the New York Yankees, a claim met with skepticism.

3. Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire is considered by many as Jose Canseco’s star pupil, having exceeded all his mentor’s achievements. The pair would come to be known as “The Bash Brothers.”

A year after Jose Canseco won Rookie of the Year, McGwire would accomplish the same feat. This was in 1987 when he shattered Frank Robinson and Wally Berger's rookie home run record that had stood for over 30 years.


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A post shared by Mark McGwire (@mark_mcgwire)

Mark McGwire, a 12-time All-Star and record holder for most home runs in a season (70 in 1998), faced cheating rumors.

These suspicions gained weight when his former teammate, Jose Canseco, revealed in a memoir their PED use during their Oakland Athletics days.

Initially denying these claims, McGwire confessed to PED use in 2010, nine years post-retirement. His 2001 retirement, attributed to vision issues, is suspected to be steroid-related.

4. Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds was headed to Baseball immortality before steroids tainted his record. Experts say that with the kind of numbers he was putting up, he was already up there.


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A post shared by Barry L Bonds (@blbonds25)

To give you a gist, Barry hit over 30 home runs in 13 consecutive seasons from 1992 to 2004. Barry Bonds is also a seven-time American League MVP, a 14-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove, and 12-time Silver Slugger.

He also holds the record for the most home runs (HR) in a season and in MLB history. He continued dominating even past his mid-30s when most players naturally diminished.

While his enduring performance was quite suspicious, the Balco Federal Grand Jury confirmed what many feared; he was on steroids.

5. Manny Ramirez

Manny’s 18-year career is decorated with outstanding achievements as an MLB player.

He helped end the Red Sox's 86-year title drought and was instrumental for the Indians by assisting them in reaching the World Series twice.

A 12-time All-Star, two-time Hank Aaron award winner, and nine-time Silver Slugger, he was a baseball legend until 2009.

Then, he tested positive for high testosterone, resulting in a 50-game ban. He blamed a doctor's prescription, but his name was already on the 2003 failed drug test list.

In 2011, another positive test and a looming 100-game suspension pushed him into early retirement.

6. Sammy Sosa

Sammy was relatively unknown in the early part of his career. This was back in 1989-1992, when he was averaging about nine home runs a season.

Then out of the blue, he started putting up 30 HRs in 93. He consequently shot up to among the top-tier players in the league. Something had definitely changed.

“To be clear, I have never taken illegal PEDs. 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’m clean.”

- Sammy Sosa

After denying PED use in the hearing, an article from the New York Times showed that he was among the 104 players that had failed steroid tests in the Mitchell Report.

Sammy Sosa was still hoping for an induction into the HOF when he retired in 2009. But thirteen years later, he is still waiting, as his past steroid usage still haunts him.

Besides becoming the first 30/30 for the Cubs, Sammy Sosa made it to the All-Star team seven times, had six Silver Sluggers, and was a one-time MVP.

All these accomplishments went down the drain in the 2005 congressional hearing on PEDs.

7. Rafael Palmeiro

Rafael Palmiero averaged 33 home runs throughout his 20-year career. These were pretty decent numbers but nothing too astounding .

He made it to the All-Star team four times, won Gold Glove three times, and the Silver Slugger two times. He played the part for a while until the bombshell dropped; Canseco claimed to have personally administered Rafael Palmiero with PEDs.

When they called him to testify in the 2005 congressional hearings on PEDs, he blatantly lied, saying he was never a steroid user. A year later, Rafael tested positive for stanozolol and was consequently suspended for ten days.

How Many Major League Baseball Players are on Steroids?

Baseball and syringe lying on the floor

It is difficult to tell the exact number of Major League Baseball players currently on steroids, given that there are certain ways for cheating athletes to avoid detection.

The latest MLB drug test that was conducted at the end of the year (2021 World Series) revealed only five steroid users from a total of 8,436 tests.

That's less than 0.1%.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that fewer players are cheating, as it could also indicate that there are effective ways of avoiding detection.

Past PED Use in MLB

A 2007 report by former Senate Majority leader George Mitchell which saw 89 active and inactive players implicated in steroid use, attempted to show how prevalent steroid use was in MLB in the 90s and 2000s [1].

Besides the confirmed numbers, former major leaguers have also speculated about the number of players on steroids.

Here are some of their estimates:

  • Jose Canseco, a former MLB player and a notorious PED user in his heyday, sensationally claimed in 2002 that 85% of MLB players are on steroids.
  • Ken Caminiti, another former MLB player who confessed to using anabolic steroids, estimated that half of MLB players were using steroids.
  • Chard Curtis, a former baseball outfielder, estimated 40-50% of baseball players were on the juice.

Although only speculations, these are pretty significant numbers. And if there’s truth to these figures, it could mean your childhood baseball hero may have been using steroids.

Let's examine A-list baseball players who might have been steroid users

Check out also our article on how you can spot a steroid user.

Are There Any PED Users in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Injected syringe on top of ball

No, there are no PED users in the baseball hall of fame, at least not officially.

Despite this, accusations of steroid use have touched some Hall of Famers.

Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell faced unconfirmed allegations, while Mike Schmidt confessed to using a substance later banned.

Let’s discuss these three cases in a bit more detail.

1. Mike Schmidt

Mike Schmidt, a 1995 inductee into the HOF, confessed to using greenies (amphetamines) in his playing days. However, that was happening before they were banned in 2006.

"In my day, amphetamines were widely available in major-league clubhouses."

- Mike Schmidt

Amphetamines are a class of energy-boosting performance-enhancing drugs. In sports, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), they are mainly used to enhance players’ performance and focus [2].

2. Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez is a 13-time all-star who was inducted into the HOF in 2017. This happened despite being accused of steroid use by Jose Canseco, his former teammate.


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A post shared by Texas Rangers ⚾️ (@rangers)

In his memoir, Canseco claims that he injected Rodriguez and even taught him about steroids while they were playing for the Texas Rangers.

Interestingly, when asked if he was in the Mitchell Report of the 104 players who failed PED tests in 2003, Ivan answered: “Only God Knows”.

3. Jeff Bagwell

Bagwell was inducted into the HOF the same year as Ivan Rodriguez. He was also suspected of PED use, although no evidence has been tabled to prove the accusation.

Bagwell did, however, come out clean later on and admitted to taking androstenedione in 1998.

The drug is an anabolic steroid but was not banned until 2003.

So at least technically, he wasn't doping.

Although it seems that, at least in these few cases, they have room for forgiveness, the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), which votes for inductees into the HOF, is infamous for denying multiple MLB star players because of steroid accusations.

Let's look at some of baseball fans’ biggest heroes who have been denied entry.

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Do Steroids Help Baseball Performance?

Steroids can help baseball performance by enabling players to hit 50% more home runs and boosting their muscle mass by 10%. This is according to Roger Tobin, a physicist from Tufts University in Boston.

How Many Yankees Used Steroids?

Exactly 26 Yankees were implicated in using steroids during Baseball’s steroid era. This included 14 pitchers and 12 position players. While some Yankee players denied using PEDs, others might have used them before or after playing for the New York Yankees.

Who Was The First Baseball Player On Steroids?

Pud Galvin was the first baseball player on steroids. He was a pitcher for Pittsburgh Alleghenys back in 1889 and is known to have used Brown-Sequard Elixir, testosterone extract from animals.

Baseball athletes who use illegal steroids often pay the price for that with their reputation and health.

The risk of a heart attack and kidney and liver failure is just not worth it, especially considering there are far safer alternatives, such as legal steroids.

These are based on natural minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and herbs. We’ve tested dozens of these products to come up with this list of the most effective natural steroid supplements.

They won't work overnight, but when combined with a proper diet and workout routine, they can make a big difference over the long run.


  1. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/Mitchell_Report.shtml
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1523237/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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