Manny Ramirez has been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball under its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. According to ESPN, Ramirez was suspended for using Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) after high levels of testosterone detected during a Spring Training drug test triggered an investigation. HCG is a fertility drug often used by athletes between cycles of steroids and has been banned by MLB since 2008.
Ramirez's case was set off when a test in spring training revealed he had elevated levels of testosterone in his body. MLB followed up with a more comprehensive test that confirmed the testosterone had to come from an artificial source, the sources said.
While investigating, MLB obtained documents that indicated Ramirez's use of hCG, and it was those documents that formally were used to hand down the 50-game suspension. Baseball decided to suspend Ramirez for only hCG because, in the end, he would have been suspended for just the 50 games either way. There was a chance Ramirez could have proved that the testosterone did not come from a banned substance, the MLB source said.
According to Mark Fainaru-Wada and TJ Quinn, the testosterone found by MLB was artificial though Ramirez was suspended for HCG because MLB had documentation to support its case for the fertility drug while a suspension for elevated testosterone levels could have been more easily be challenged by Ramirez.
Testing by Major League Baseball showed that Ramirez had testosterone in his body that was not natural and came from an artificial source, two people with knowledge of the case told ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn. The sources said that in addition to the artificial testosterone, Ramirez was identified as using the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG.
The sources said Ramirez was suspended for using hCG because baseball had documentation to prove his use of the drug. A Major League Baseball source said Ramirez's representatives indicated they would fight a suspension for using artificial testosterone.
There are very few legitimate uses for HCG in men. It’s typically used in conjunction with anabolic steroids, though not at the same time. It helps stimulate the natural production of testosterone after a cycle of steroids. It’s no secret that players have used HCG as part of performance enhancing drug regimens. MLB players Jay Gibbons and David Bell have previously been linked to HCG during the Albany D.A. led investigation into Anti-Aging clinics and online pharmacies. But according to one of the investigators in that case, its use is much more common than previously reported.
Mark Haskins, formerly an investigator for the New York State Department of Health, said places such as the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center routinely sent out hCG along with testosterone and Winstrol (stanozolol).
"I spent four years investigating this stuff, and 90 percent of the orders contained hCG," he said.
Ramirez issued a statement.
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. 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.
- Sources: Ramirez used fertility drugESPN
- First Gibbons and Bell, now MannyESPN
- Dodgers' Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games after failing drug testLA Times