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05/08/09 4:50 AM ET

Answering questions about Manny

Slugger's 50-game suspension prompts many inquiries

Many questions came out of Thursday's news about Manny Ramirez. There are still more questions than answers, but here are a few questions with the answers that are known at this point:

What happened?
Ramirez, one of the biggest superstars in baseball and the catalyst of the Dodgers' run to the National League Championship Series last fall and hot start this April, was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy by using a banned substance. He waived the appeal process and began serving his suspension Thursday night, when the Dodgers lost to the Nationals to halt their 13-game home winning streak to start the season.

What is the drug that Ramirez was found to have used?
According to news accounts, it is human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a fertility drug for women. HCG has been known to be used by male athletes to generate the body's production of testosterone after steroid use. Ramirez said it was prescribed to him by a doctor for a "personal health reason." Among the uses cited by physicians are to treat male infertility and help with low testosterone levels. Its primary role is to "jump-start testosterone production," according to several medical sources. It was added to MLB's list of banned substances last year.

When did the positive test take place?
A urine test Ramirez was administered in Spring Training came back with traces of a banned substance, numerous accounts say. MLB officials then followed up to investigate why that was the case, and found out via his medical files that Ramirez had been prescribed HCG. He was suspended for his use of that substance, and not for a positive test for it, or for steroids or human growth hormone.

Why was Ramirez suspended for 50 games, not another length of time?
Under the collective bargaining agreement, which was amended in 2005 to include stiffer penalties, a player found to be using a performance-enhancing drug on a first offense is suspended 50 games -- like J.C. Romero of the Phillies was. A second offense would rate a 100-game suspension, and a third offense would mean a lifetime ban. Those thresholds went into effect for the 2006 season, and Ramirez is the biggest star to have received that suspension. No player has yet received a 100-game suspension. Players banned for life would be able to apply for reinstatement after two years.

When is Ramirez eligible to return?
July 3, assuming there are no postponements on the Dodgers' schedule between now and then. That is the 51st game after his suspension began Thursday.

Can he still play in the All-Star Game?
He will remain on the ballot, and there have been no announcements to the effect that he would not be able to play if in fact his suspension has been served and he is eligible to play at that time.

Will Ramirez be paid while he's suspended?
No. The suspension will cost him $7.7 million of his $25 million salary this season. The early indications are that the Dodgers won't be seeking a replacement for Ramirez's bat in the lineup, since he'll be gone less than two months.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.