NEW YORK (AP) - Manny Ramirez joined a growing lineup of
All-Stars linked to drugs Thursday, with the dreadlocked slugger
banished for 50 games by a sport that cannot shake free from
The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was suspended by Major League
Baseball, adding a further stamp to what will forever be known as
the Steroids Era.
Ramirez said he did not take steroids and was given medication
by a doctor that contained a banned substance. A person familiar
with the details of the suspension said Ramirez used the female
fertility drug HCG, or 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.
Ramirez's suspension was based not on a spring training urine
test result but rather evidence obtained afterward, a second person
familiar with the suspension said, speaking on condition of
anonymity because those details were not released. MLB had
concluded the spring test was positive, but the person said the
players' association would have challenged the result because of
Ranked 17th on the career home run list with 533, Ramirez became
the most prominent baseball player to be penalized for drugs. His
ban came three months after Alex Rodriguez admitted using steroids,
and at a time when Barry Bonds is under federal indictment and
Roger Clemens is being investigated by a federal grand jury to
determine whether he lied when he told Congress he never used
steroids or human growth hormone.
No matter which way baseball turns, the legitimacy of many of
its recent home run and pitching records is being questioned.
Sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have been tainted by steroid
allegations, Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for a banned drug and
Jose Canseco said he used them.
In every case, players once believed to be locks for the Hall of
Fame may now be locked out.
"You can't have arguably the greatest pitcher of our era,
arguably the two greatest players of our era and now another very,
very good player be under this cloud of suspicion and not feel like
it has ruined it for everybody," Atlanta star Chipper Jones said.
"But what are you going to do? You can't be born in a different
era. It is the Steroid Era," he said.
And that prompted yet another apology from another ballplayer.
The 36-year-old Ramirez told the Dodgers and fans he was sorry 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'
"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."
His suspension was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on
its Web site.
While Ramirez had little to say, Canseco, who planned a news
conference Thursday night in Los Angeles, was quick to explain why
someone might use HCG.
"It could be that a player used it because he used steroids and
went cold-turkey and needed HCG to get his levels back to normal. I
had to use it when I quit steroids cold-turkey," Canseco, who
pleaded guilty last November to a misdemeanor of trying to bring
HCG across the Mexican border into the United States illegally,
told the AP. "I had to go to a doctor to get it and get my levels
Because MLB imposed the suspension as required by the drug
agreement, the Dodgers cannot further discipline Ramirez.
"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 was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report, MLB's official
report on drug use, and there had not been whispers that he was
among the sport's juiced players.
Rodriguez and Ramirez are the two highest-paid players in the
majors. With this suspension, six of the top 17 home run hitters in
history now have been covered by the cloud of performance-enhancing
"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," said Cincinnati pitcher
Bronson Arroyo, Ramirez's former Boston teammate.
Baseball added HCG to its list of banned substances last year.
HCG is prescribed to stimulate female fertility and testosterone
production in men and to treat delayed puberty in boys.
"It's not infrequently part of the mix of the poly-drug
approach to doping," said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the
committee that determines the banned-substances list for the World
Anti-Doping Agency. "It typically is used most when people are
coming off a cycle to restore to normal biophysiological feedback
Reaction to Ramirez's ban came swiftly, from major league
clubhouses to the White House.
"It's a tragedy. It's a shame. My sense is, it's a great
embarrassment on Major League Baseball," White House press
secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The penalty left the best team in the majors without its driving
force and free spirit for nearly one-third of the season.
Ramirez's suspension began Thursday. Barring any postponements,
he will be able to return to the Dodgers 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.
Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, and the players' association had
gathered materials for a possible appeal to an arbitrator, 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 RBIs 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, opening the season
13-0. They play Washington again Thursday night.
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 it 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. Hours after the
suspension, the team removed a reference to those seats from its
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 his statement, Ramirez addressed Dodgers owners Frank and
Jamie 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. "LA is a special place to me, and I know everybody
is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation."
Ramirez 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
No doubt whose name was the most jarring.
In St. Louis, a clubhouse attendant stuck his head into manager
Tony La Russa's office and said, "Manny Ramirez, 50 games,
La Russa's reaction: "You're kidding me."
Associated Press Sports Writers Beth Harris in Los Angeles, Dan
Gelston in Philadelphia, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, R.B. Fallstrom in
St. Louis, Stephen Wilson in London and Steve Wine in Miami,
National Writer Ben Walker in New York and AP Writer Donna Cassata
contributed to this report.
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NEW YORK (AP) - Manny Ramirez joined a growing lineup of
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