UPDATE: Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games for PED use

May 07, 2009 - 8:03 am

The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a press release to confirm that Manny Ramirez has been suspended 50 games for the use of a performance-enhancing substance. The press release, which featured a quote from Ramirez, stated that the substance was not a steroid, but was on Major League Baseball's banned substances list, and said that Ramirez will not appeal the suspension. The release reads:

"The Commissioner's Office announced today that Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. That suspension was issued pursuant to Section 8.G.2 of the Program. Manny, after consultation with the Players Association and his personal representatives, waived his right to challenge that suspension. "Manny has requested that the Players Association release the following statement on his behalf. '€œRecently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. 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. '€œI want to apologize to Mr. McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mr. Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization, and to the Dodger fans. LA is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed. So am I. I'm sorry about this whole situation.'€ '€“ Manny Ramirez
The L.A. Times first reported the news. Last month, former baseball player Jose Canseco told a crowd at USC (as reported by the L.A. Times) that he was "90 percent" certain that Ramirez' name was on the list of 104 players who tested positive for steroids during the 2003 series, before Major League Baseball had any penalties for positive tests. The revelation is a bombshell, as a suspension for Ramirez would be the most prominent player to be punished under the current MLB penalties. (Rafael Palmeiro, a member of the 500-homer and 3,000-hit clubs, was suspended for 15 games for steroid use in 2005.) While Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using steroids, and MLB's Mitchell Report cited use by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, a positive test for Ramirez would mark the first time a superstar has been snared and punished by the current MLB testing program. Obviously, the issue resonates across baseball, and particularly in Boston. The reputation of Ramirez, widely regarded as one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time, would take a major blow in the eyes of the public. Although this positive test comes at a time when he is a member of the L.A. Dodgers, he would be the most significant player on either the 2004 or 2007 championship teams to test positive for a performance-enhancing substance. (ESPN's Peter Gammons said during a SportsCenter broadcast that one member of the Red Sox front office was shocked by the revelation, saying, "I don't believe it for one second.") A 50-game suspension would sideline Ramirez until July 3. Ramirez, who signed a one-year, $25 million contract with a $20 million player option for 2010, would not be paid during the suspension, meaning that he would forfeit between $7-8 million.) He is hitting .348 with a .492 OBP and .641 slugging mark with six homers for the Dodgers this year, after having hit .396 / .489 / .743 with 17 homers in 53 games after being traded to Los Angeles last year. In an interview on ESPN's SportsCenter during spring training, Ramirez said multiple times that he had never used or thought about using steroids. "No, it wasn't tempting," he said at the time. Ramirez is not the first player to insist that he was suspended after unwittingly using a banned substance. Former Sox reliever J.C. Romero, who was with the team early in 2007, also failed a test for what he told WEEI.com was a substance in an over-the-counter supplement:
"First of all, I definitely want to make sure [people know] that I did not use steroids," he said. "I think that's one thing that I want to clarify because it means a lot to me. I honestly agree with cleaning the game of baseball so we can be better role models for our youth, our kids. We have a bunch of high school, college players that look up to us as baseball players and I think it's our job, our duty to make sure we keep the game pure. "With that being said, I also want to make sure that people realize that we're being targets right now. We're being targeted by outsiders. We're pretty much becoming a hot topic right now and baseball is in flames right now because of what's going on with the game right now, which is very unfortunate."