I can only echo what Natashka says. I launched two sites last November that were sandboxed and they only had about four or five links each, including DMOZ. They came out with Bourbon. There has been some talk about a Google engineer denying the sandbox at the conference but personally I think that if he said it he may just have been playing with semantics.
Google may not have called it the sandbox. It may not have even had a name but it is/was very real to many of us who suffered. Call it the sandbox, call it a penalty, call it a filter, but whatever it is/was its effect was very real.
BTW is it possible that it has been now been dropped with the Bourbon update?