NEW YORK (AP) - Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday, becoming the latest high-profile player ensnared in drug scandals.
The Los Angeles Dodgers star said he did not take steroids and was given medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance. The MLB commissioner's office didn't announce the specific violation by the 36-year-old Dominican Republic outfielder, who apologized to the Dodgers and fans for "this whole situation."
"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," Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players' union.
"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."
Two sources told ESPN that Ramirez used a women's fertility drug - HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin. That sort of drug can be used by steroid users after they complete cycles to get their bodies to produce testosterone naturally again.
Ramirez's suspension began on Thursday and barring any postponements he will be able to return to the Dodgers - who have the best record in MLB - on July 3. Ramirez will lose about $7.65 million of his $25 million salary.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig couldn't comment on the suspension because of provisions of the management-union drug agreement, spokesman Rich Levin said.
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 to be suspended under the drug policy players and owners put in place seven years ago.
Ramirez is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs through the first 27 games of the season.
His suspension comes a day after the Dodgers broke the modern MLB record for a home winning streak to open a season with their 13th consecutive victory.
Losing Ramirez to suspension could be a huge blow financially for the Dodgers. The slugger has been single-handedly responsible for increasing attendance, merchandise sales and interest in the team, in addition to helping them win the National League West division after his late season arrival in 2008.
Los Angeles even renamed a section of seats in left field at Dodger Stadium "Mannywood" in his honor.
Ramirez's suspension came a day before Rodriguez was likely to rejoin the New York Yankees. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since having hip surgery.
In February, Rodriguez admitted taking steroids while playing for Texas from 2001-03 and acknowledged testing positive under a 2003 survey. But testing with penalties didn't begin until 2004, and the New York Yankees third baseman doesn't appear likely to be suspended.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.