Report: Manny’s drug test flagged for elevated testosterone, not hCG

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, Manny Ramirez’s drug test was flagged by MLB for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone, not hCG as was initially believed.

The newspaper reported that no trace of hCG, the banned substance for which the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder was suspended, was found in his system at the time of the drug test, according to three sources with specific knowledge of the test. But according to one source with knowledge of the test, it was was flagged for having a synthetic testosterone level four times the amount of the average male.

Baseball officials had begun the disciplinary process for the drug test when they obtained Ramirez’s medical records and learned he had a prescription for hCG, which is commonly prescribed for women as a fertility drug and is a banned substance in baseball’s drug program. At that point, Ramirez was suspended for “just cause,” based on the prescription and the fact he had not sought an exemption for it, and Ramirez dropped his appeals and took the suspension, according to the report.

Before the prescription came to light, Ramirez was expected to argue on appeal that the elevated testosterone level was caused by DHEA, according to authorities familiar with MLB’s testing procedure, the Times reported.

The World Anti-Doping Agency considers DHEA a steroid and has banned its use, but it is not a banned substance under baseball’s drug policy. DHEA is produced by the adrenal gland and serves as a precursor to male and female sex hormones.

The Times reported that according to those same authorities, Ramirez’s test would not have been declared a positive if it were known that DHEA had caused the spike in his testosterone-epitestosterone (T-E) ratio.

But one of the three sources with information about the test results said baseball had three “powerful analytic foundations” to say the positive drug test was not caused by DHEA, according to the Times.

I realize this is just a report. Nothing has been confirmed and nothing probably will be confirmed by Manny or MLB. However, this is pretty damning evidence for Ramirez.

Let’s sum this up, shall we?

Manny is told that he will be suspended for a positive PED test. He plans to appeal the suspension on the basis that his positive test was the cause of DHEA, which he knows isn’t on baseball’s banned list. But when he found out that MLB had evidence that the positive drug test was not caused by DHEA, he backed down.

Furthermore, he had elevated testosterone levels four times the amount of the average male. Four…times. And oh-by-the-way, he also had a prescription filled out for hCG, which is a drug known to help restore testosterone levels for those coming off steroid cycles.

This guy was (allegedly) juicing! He was (allegedly) on the juice! He (allegedly) got caught with steroids!

Again, this is just a report so we cannot take it as complete truth, especially when there are unnamed sources involved. But this could possibly be the smoking gun that was begging to come out as soon as the suspension was handed down.

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Dodgers’ owner furious with Manny

According to the Los Angeles Times, Manny Ramirez recently met with Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt and general manger Ned Colletti since being suspended for 50-games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug and as expected, McCourt ain’t happy.

McCourt is said to be furious with Ramirez and was demanding that the All-Star outfielder call him, according to sources familiar with the situation who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.

Among McCourt’s other demands is that Ramirez address his teammates. One source said that is “unlikely” to happen today when the Dodgers conclude an 11-game homestand, but “might” take place during the six-game trip that starts Tuesday in Philadelphia. A possibility exists that Ramirez could face the team on the second half of the trip, in his off-season hometown of Miami.

What was clear on Saturday was that the issue of Ramirez’s speaking to his teammates was more important to McCourt than it was to Dodgers Manager Joe Torre.

“I don’t think addressing the team is necessary,” Torre said. “I think it is important that the players get a chance to say something. I don’t think we need anything formal.”

I don’t blame McCourt one bit for being furious about this entire situation. He and Colletti had to do the negotiation dance with Manny and his agent for months before Ramirez finally agreed to a two-year, $45 million contract in March. And for all his trouble, McCourt now has to sit idle as his best hitter and marketing piece miss 50 games because Manny got caught masking steroids tested positive for a PED.

Far be it for me to disagree with anything Joe Torre has to say, but I side with McCourt in that Manny needs to address the team. He needs to look his teammates in the eyes and say, “I screwed up and I need to pay for what I did. But if you’ll have me back, I’ll make it up to you in July when I come back.” I think Manny personally addressing the situation is better than everyone attempting to sweep it under the rug until after the 50-game suspension. He needs to show a little humility and I think his teammates would respect that (even if the rest of us wouldn’t).

Ryan: Careful, Manny could be telling the truth

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe urges everyone to be careful before judging Manny Ramirez on his 50-game suspension, because the slugger could be telling the truth that steroids had nothing to do with his positive drug test.

If there’s a profile of a banned substance abuser — and I’m not sure there is — Manny does not fit it. Sudden change in body configuration? Nope. Big surge in power output? Nope. Manny never even hit 50. He did have a homer jump from 26 in 1997 to 45 in 1998, but that was after hitting 31 in 1995 and 33 in 1996. He was a maturing young slugger; that’s all. I think.

But Manny has otherwise been a consistent power hitter for the last dozen years. There have been no red flags.

It’s very easy, and logical, to accept the idea that Manny has just messed up. Consider that the reason pitcher J.C. Romero is currently serving his 50-game suspension for use of a banned substance is that he swears he had absolutely no reason to think there was anything sinister in what he was given. J.C. sure wasn’t getting by on his heat. I’m inclined to believe him.

But if Manny isn’t telling the truth, then we are once again reminded that this quest of ours to evaluate baseball in both its recent past and its present may be a fruitless endeavor. If Manny has done something bad knowingly, we can assume he’s not the only one, and then we are back in the business of suspecting anyone who hits a home run (Well, maybe not in Yankee Stadium). I hate that.

If Manny is telling the truth, shouldn’t it be easy to prove? There would be some kind of doctor’s record, correct? We really should be able to get to the bottom of it, correct? This doesn’t mean that if Manny has indeed innocently ingested a no-no product he shouldn’t do the time. Players are ultimately responsible for what goes in to their bodies, and they all have to know the rules. But if that really is what happened, at least we can breathe the big sigh of relief and go back to focusing our wrath on real cheaters, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

I just can’t shake the fact that Manny would take a drug like HCG without intending to use it as a trigger for testosterone production, which is depleted by steroid use. And if he did have erectile dysfunction, why would a physician (if Manny even saw) prescribe a women’s fertility drug over Viagra or Cialis? It just doesn’t add up, although I’m not a physician so maybe there is a logical explanation behind it. (Plus, let’s not discount the fact that Manny is a freaking kook and might have taken the drug because he thought it would give him mystical powers or something.)

Chances are that we’ll never get a full explanation as to why Manny took the drug, at least not one that wasn’t fed to him by the Dodgers’ P.R. staff. When he comes back from his suspension, he’ll likely give all the cookie-cutter responses like, “I just want to move on” and “I’m not talking about that anymore – I’m here to help my team win.”

Either way, let’s hope that this suspension means that MLB is finally starting to control its steroid problem and that it won’t be afraid to hand out more lofty suspensions to prominent stars.

Do the Giants have the most to gain from Manny’s suspension?

For at least a moment, let’s put away all of the Manny-Ramirez-disgraced-the-game headlines and talk a little baseball, shall we?

Who stands to gain the most from Manny’s 50-game suspension? Your answer might be the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers are the best team in the NL West regardless whether or not Ramirez is in their lineup. Andre Ethier is absolutely raking at the plate, Orlando Hudson is getting on base like it’s his life mission and 24-year old Chad Billingsley (5-0, 2.21 ERA, 42 Ks) is pitching like a Cy Young candidate.

The loss of Manny certainly hurts, but it’s not like the Dodgers have been a one-man wrecking crew in amassing the league’s best record to this point. Guys like Ethier, Hudson, James Loney and a couple of live arms in the starting rotation are good enough to compete in a weak NL West with or without Ramirez.

But there’s no question that having Manny in the lineup makes Ethier, Hudson and Loney better, while Juan Pierre (Ramirez’s sub in left field) is a massive drop off in every offensive category outside of stolen bases. The bottom line is that the Dodgers are a better offensive club with Ramirez in the lineup – much better.

Heading into Friday’s action, the Dodgers own a 5.5-game lead over the Giants, a 7.5-game lead over the Padres and 8.5-game leads over the Diamondbacks and Rockies in the NL West. Arizona can’t hit and is in turmoil after firing manager Bob Melvin, Colorado still has plenty of young talent but has been inconsistent to this point and one has to wonder if San Diego will stay competitive long enough not to be tempted to trade ace Jake Peavy in order to start building for the future.

That leaves San Francisco, who at 14-13 certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but it has enough pieces to make a run at the Manny-less Dodgers.

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Source: Ramirez tested positive for sexual enhancer

According to Yahoo! Sports, the illegal substance that Manny Ramirez tested positive for is supposed to boost sex drive.

Two sources said Ramirez tested positive for a gonadotropin. Major League baseball’s list of banned substances includes the gonadotropins LH and HCG, which are most commonly used by women as fertility drugs. They also can be used to trigger testosterone production. Testosterone is depleted by steroid use, which can cause sexual dysfunction.

“Testosterone and similar drugs are effective for erectile dysfunction in that they jazz up your sex drive,” said Charles Yesalis, a professor at Penn State who has testified before Congress on issues of performance-enhancing drugs. “But far more clinicians accept that affect with Viagra and Cialis. It’s hard for me to understand if it was erectile dysfunction why they would use it.”

Ramirez tested positive for the substance during spring training, then was administered a second test more recently, and it also was positive. Major League Baseball notified Ramirez of the second positive test after Wednesday night’s Dodgers victory over the Washington Nationals. Ramirez admitted to having taken the substance and declined to appeal. His 50-game suspension begins today.

“The substance is not a steroid and it is not human-growth hormone,” the source said.

Hey, you can’t fault a man for taking something to add a little pep in his step, but the question is – why did he take it? Was he using it to correct erectile dysfunction because he was on steroids and his testosterone was depleted? Or was it just because he has erectile dysfunction? If it’s the latter, then it’s hardly anyone’s business and it’s unfortunate that Ramirez was suspended 50 games for it. But if it’s the former, then he should fry.

Either way, you can’t blame MLB for having LH and HCG on the list of banned substances because you don’t know if players are using it to mask their steroid use. And considering he tested positive for the substance in spring training, what a slap in the face of the Dodgers, who Manny and Scott Boras put through negotiation hell all offseason.

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