- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009

— Major League Baseball has suspended Manny Ramirez for 50 games for violating the league’s drug program, making the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger the latest big-name star to have his name linked with drugs.

Ramirez, who will begin serving the suspension tonight when the Dodgers face the Washington Nationals, did not test positive for steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. Rather, he is being punished for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

In a statement released through the MLB Players Association, Ramirez said he received medication from a doctor for a “personal health issue” and was unaware the substance was banned.

“Recently 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,” Ramirez said in the statement. “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.”

Ramirez has been the Dodgers’ prime catalyst during an impressive early season run that has included a record-setting, 13-0 record at home, culminating with last night’s 10-3 win over the Nationals. In 27 games, he has hit .348 with six homers and 20 RBI.

Ramirez won’t be eligible to return from suspension until July 3. According to the MLBPA, he will not fight or appeal the ruling. He stands to lose about $7.7 million of the $25 million he was set to earn this season. The one-year contract he signed with the Dodgers during spring training has a second-year player option for $20 million.

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

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