MLB: Manny Ramirez Tests Positive, Suspended 50 Games

NEW YORK -- Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday, becoming the latest high-profile player ensnared in the sport's drug scandals.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star said he did not take steroids, blaming medication prescribed by a doctor.

A person familiar with the details of the suspension said Ramirez provided a urine sample during spring training that tested positive for HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the banned substance wasn't announced.

HCG is popular among steroid users because it can mitigate the side effects of ending a cycle of the drugs. The body may stop producing testosterone when users go off steroids, which can cause sperm counts to decrease and testicles to shrink.

"We share the disappointment felt by our fans, our players, and every member of our organization," Dodgers chief executive officer Jamie McCourt said in a statement. "We will welcome Manny back upon his return."

Ramirez, a 36-year-old outfielder, apologized to the Dodgers and fans for "this whole situation."

"Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me," Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players union.

"Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons."

Baseball added HCG to its list of banned substances last year. Last November, former AL MVP Jose Canseco pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of trying to bring HCG across the Mexican border into the United States illegally and was sentenced to 12 months' unsupervised probation.

Ramirez's suspension began Thursday. Barring any postponements he will be able to return to the Dodgers -- whose 21-8 record is the best in the major leagues -- for the July 3 game at San Diego. Ramirez will lose $7,650,273 of his $25 million salary.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig couldn't comment on the suspension because of provisions of the management-union drug agreement, spokesman Rich Levin said.

"I wouldn't have been surprised if anybody in the game turned up on anything prior to '04, but since '04, I feel like the game's been pretty clean," said Cincinnati pitcher Bronson Arroyo, Ramirez's former Boston teammate. "It's kind of shocking that he got caught up in anything, honestly. Manny likes to play stupid, but he's a pretty bright guy. And he's definitely aware of a lot of things that he tries to act like he's completely oblivious to."

While Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Canseco and a long list of stars have been implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Ramirez is the most prominent suspended under the drug policy players and owners agreed to in August 2002.

"This shows baseball is getting more serious in terms of the testing program, and that's a good thing," World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman said. "It's another step in the right direction, but it is still fall short in terms of sanctions. Also, it is regrettable that the sport does not identify substances involved in positive cases. Baseball needs to be transparent."

Canseco, David Bell and Jay Gibbons have been linked in media reports to HCG use, according to the December 2007 Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball.

Baseball lawyers traveled to Los Angeles for a possible appeal to an arbitrator that would have started Wednesday, but Ramirez decided not to file one because he didn't want to risk missing significant time in the second half of the season, the person familiar with details of the suspension said. The union said merely that he waived his right to contest the suspension.

Ramirez is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBI through the first 27 games of the season.

His suspension comes a day after the Dodgers broke the modern major league record for a home winning streak to open a season with their 13th consecutive victory.

Losing Ramirez to suspension could be a huge blow financially for the Dodgers. The slugger has been single-handedly responsible for increasing attendance, merchandise sales and interest in the team, in addition to helping them win the NL West after his late season arrival in 2008.

Los Angeles even renamed a section of seats in left field at Dodger Stadium "Mannywood" in his honor.

Ramirez's suspension came a day before Rodriguez was likely to rejoin the New York Yankees. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since having hip surgery.

In February, Rodriguez admitted taking steroids while playing for Texas from 2001-03 and acknowledged testing positive under a 2003 survey. But testing with penalties didn't begin until 2004, and the New York Yankees third baseman doesn't appear likely to be suspended.

The players association said Ramirez was suspended by the commissioner under the "just cause" provision of section 8.G.2 of the joint drug agreement. That allows players to be penalized for use, sale or distribution of banned substances, even where the agreement doesn't specify a particular penalty, such as for a positive test.

In his statement, Ramirez addressed Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and manager Joe Torre.

"I want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans," Ramirez said. "L.A. is a special place to me, and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation."

His suspension was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on its website.

Ramirez, 17th on the career home run list with 533, became the fourth player suspended this year under the major league program, following Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero, Yankees pitcher Sergio Mitre and San Francisco pitcher Kelvin Pichardo.

Just two relatively low-profile players were suspended under the major league program last year, San Francisco catcher Elizier Alfonzo and Colorado catcher Humberto Coto.

In the past, the best-known player penalized was Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro, who received a 10-day suspension in 2005, the first year of penalties for first infractions.

Ramirez was acquired by Los Angeles from Boston last July 31 and became a fan favorite. His contract negotiations became a long-running drama during the offseason, and he agreed in early March -- well after the start of spring training -- to a $45 million, two-year contract that gives him the right to void the second season and become a free agent again.

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  • by Sam Location: Williamston on May 8, 2009 at 09:35 AM
    To the so called Know it all, FYI I NEVER put down the ROIDS. Can you read properly? Guess not! Look back and you will see I put down "illegal substance." I know there are several different banned substances in baseball. I have a cousin who used to be with the New York Yankees organization, so I know first-hand about it. Anonymous, if North Carolina was full of ignorant people then, why does North Carolina have so many educational institutions (high quality college education) for the amt. of the population. It also is fine if you put down "hisself" as well as "himself." Go look at a dictionary or some other source. He has a self and the self is his. Himself is said in such phrases as "By himself." Also, the word "cost" is PRESENT NOT PAST tense. Learn something. It takes someone to embarrass themselves for calling me ignorant for the highly intelligent comment that came out. BTW, WITN, if you are calling me out, then I repeat, look at Know it all's post. Know it all broke the rule OK?
  • by WITN Moderator Location: on May 8, 2009 at 06:54 AM
    To Sam: Please refrain from "calling out" other posters. We have rejected several posts of yours over the past couple of days for that. While you can disagree with other posters, calling them ignorant or telling them to keep their mouth shut is not acceptable. Repeated violations of our rules can lead to banning an IP address. Thanks for playing by the rules.
  • by ace Location: plymouth on May 8, 2009 at 05:09 AM
    Let him set out of the games. Maybe now someone will get to play that is not on drugs.
  • by P Location: Fayetteville on May 8, 2009 at 02:31 AM
    Thats why I donot support baseball. I saw the good games of the Yankees as a child in the Bronx. Worst that they did was drink! Now a majority are a bunch need the drugs to do what Mantle and Maris did. Those records broken from Maris are a bunch of DRUGS, and there are players in all sports that are a bunch of THUGS!
  • by Anonymous on May 7, 2009 at 12:23 PM
    And Sam, it's "himself" and "cost", not "costed". There is no such word. Just shows you the ignorance of North Carolinians.
  • by Jennifer Location: Kinston on May 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM
    I have been a fan of Manny since his days playing for the Kinston Indians. This makes me sad. :(
  • by Know it all... Location: Meville on May 7, 2009 at 11:18 AM
    Dear Sam: Your ignorant and you don't know all the details. GO read an article on and you will see it was not "ROIDS" he tested positive for. The MLB has a boat load of different drugs they test for, most of which don't effect your play on the field at all. I swear you people...
  • by Bud Location: Washington on May 7, 2009 at 11:13 AM
    See! Sometimes (usually all the time actually) profiling a person DOES WORK! If you look like a drug abuser, then odds are you probably are one! Especially if you're a lethargic bum who doesn't want to do anything but play on gameday, like Ramirez. This positive test was long overdue, and the only way I could enjoy this more would be if he was playing for the NY Yankees. Hockey and NASCAR are now the only two sports untainted by the stain of drugs. Read it and weep Dodgers fans, you knew what you were getting yourselves into when you agreed to his deal.
  • by Z Location: jacksonville on May 7, 2009 at 11:10 AM
    This is why I HATE baseball. Nothing but a bunch of stinkin cheaters.
  • by sam Location: farmville on May 7, 2009 at 10:49 AM
    Surprise, surprise, another creep.
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