05/15/09 12:31 PM ET
Evidence indicates Manny's steroid use
Experts say suspension, lack of fertility drug in test is telling
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
hCG -- not a steroid but a substance banned by MLB's drug policy -- was not found in his system. But a prescription for the drug was found in medical files that were turned over to MLB after Ramirez's drug test did show a synthetic testosterone level four times normal for an average male. Ramirez reportedly dropped an appeal because the prescription was conclusive evidence of a violation.
Ramirez said in a statement when the suspension was issued that he was given the medication by a doctor for a medical condition. Ramirez could have applied for a "therapeutic use exemption," but did not.
Since then, Ramirez has not made any public comment. There has been increasing speculation that he will meet with his team Friday when the Dodgers play the Florida Marlins in Miami, where Ramirez has a home.
Citing three unidentified sources, The Times speculated that Ramirez would have argued on appeal that his elevated testosterone level was caused by DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which is not banned by MLB but is considered a steroid by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The Times report said Ramirez was suspended for "just cause" based on "non-analytical evidence," which includes scientific testimony that DHEA cannot increase testosterone levels four times the norm, as was found in Ramirez.hCG is banned by MLB because it is known among male steroid users to be a substance that can help kick-start the body's production of natural testosterone, which is stymied when using synthetic testosterone (aka steroids), according to reports. It also can be used to stimulate sexual performance, and the Times report said sources in Ramirez's camp indicated that was a factor in his use of the drug.
Since hCG could not have been the cause of the elevated levels of synthetic testosterone in Ramirez's test results, a report on Monday by ESPN.com said that meant there were two different substances for which Ramirez needed to answer, and there was no defense for the hCG because of the documentation that it had been prescribed.
That evidence reportedly convinced Ramirez not to continue a legal fight, but to accept the suspension and release a statement that it was the result of taking doctor-prescribed medication and not a steroid.
That scenario is the reason why Ramirez has not been said to have failed a drug test. When Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero was suspended for 50 games in January, MLB's official statement said that it was for "testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance." The official statement about Ramirez's suspension said it was for a "violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program."
Under the MLB drug policy, if a player is suspended for reasons other than a positive test for a banned substance, the only comment from the club and Commissioner's office is that the player was suspended for a specified number of games for a violation of the program.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.