- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2009

My doctor said it was OK. It’s remarkable how many times, even in this enlightened age, athletes fall victim to doctors foisting banned drugs on them.

Maybe the American Medical Association should hand out 50-game suspensions to its members.

The latest pawn in this campaign by physicians to tear down our heroes is Manny Ramirez, who was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball under the sport’s testing program for performance-enhancing drugs.

We don’t know yet what Manny took that resulted in the suspension, but this latest casualty was simply trying to end his suffering from a “personal health issue,” according to a statement released by that victim support group known as the players association.

“Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue,” Ramirez’s statement read. “He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK 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.”

According to Yahoo Sports, a source close to Manny said the substance was not something generally used for performance enhancing in baseball. It was something that is supposed to boost sex drive, according to the Yahoo report, which also noted this was Manny’s second positive drug test this year.

If that is the case, why not appeal the suspension? Why did Manny waive his right to do so? Fear of embarrassment? Are we really supposed to believe that the clown prince of baseball will accept a 50-game suspension because he couldn’t perform in bed?

ESPN reported that Manny used a women’s fertility drug - human chorionic gonadotropin. That sort of drug can be employed by steroid users after they complete cycles so they can produce testosterone naturally again, ESPN reported.

After Rafael Palmeiro wagged his finger and claimed he never used steroids, after Mark McGwire took the Fifth, after Barry Bonds lied to a grand jury and brought the wrath of the federal government down upon him and after Roger Clemens told fairy tales before a congressional committee, here we are with another superstar athlete who has chosen the path of most ridicule.

These are the choices facing players like Bonds, Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Ramirez when they are exposed - admit something and beg for forgiveness, deny everything or make up a story for laughs.

Of those choices, admitting something seems to have worked the best for these victims, such as Andy Pettitte. It didn’t work for A-Rod, because he was exposed as a fraud and phony before the news of his positive drug test surfaced.

Manny has always been a clown, so he chose to go for the laughs.

The story will not help - not given Manny’s shaky reputation.

Maybe the “personal health issue” Manny was suffering from was pharyngitis, which he supposedly had in 2003 when he begged out of a series against the Yankees and then was seen in a hotel bar with Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson.

Maybe it was the “sore knee” that forced Manny to sit out some games last season in Boston. Some people questioned Manny’s credibility at the time, particularly when the result of an MRI showed no damage. But obviously he was done in again by another doctor in on the conspiracy because, when Manny did take the field, he was clearly hurting - he was not running out ground balls. A week later, he was traded to Los Angeles.

Manny’s legacy, which was based solely on his statistical accomplishments of 533 home runs and 1,745 RBI, is now tarnished, and so are his chances for the Hall of Fame. Unless, of course, you chose to believe one of the stories coming out of Los Angeles - that Manny Ramirez believed Smiling Bob and the benefits of the big lift.

Manny isn’t smiling now. But even when he is caught up in the steroid scandal, he is still worth a few laughs.

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