Ramirez Suspended 50 Games For Drug Violation The Los Angeles Dodgers star has been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile players ensnared in the sport's drug scandals.
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Ramirez Suspended 50 Games For Drug Violation

Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers returns to the dugout after striking out against the San Diego Padres. Ramirez signed a $45 million, two-year contract last month. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images hide caption

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers returns to the dugout after striking out against the San Diego Padres. Ramirez signed a $45 million, two-year contract last month.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Manny Ramirez Statement

"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. 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.

 

"I 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, in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association

Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star Manny Ramirez was suspended Thursday for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, becoming the latest high-profile baseball figure to be ensnared in a drug scandal.

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced the fine under Major League Baseball's joint drug prevention and treatment program. The suspension was effective immediately, but there were no immediate details about which substance may have been involved or when the test was taken.

In a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association, Ramirez, a left fielder who has a .348 batting average this year and a new two-year, $45 million contract, apologized to his fans and teammates but said the situation was an accident.

"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," he said in a 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," he added.

While Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Jose 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 that players and owners put in place seven years ago.

In February, Rodriguez admitted taking steroids while playing for Texas from 2001-03. 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.

"The commissioner's office is precluded from making any comment by the collective bargaining agreement," MLB spokesman Rich Levin said.

Ramirez, who has spearheaded a surging Dodgers team this season, waived his right to challenge the suspension, the MLBPA said. He has led the team to baseball's best record, including a 13-0 start at home.

The Players Association said it "stands behind Manny and will continue to support him in any way we can."

Ramirez stands to lose about $7.65 million of his annual $25 million salary during the time he will be off the field, which is scheduled to last until July 3.

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.

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

From NPR staff and wire service reports