The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 7, 2009

A real suspension for a real star

Manny Ramirez. Fifty games. Performance-enhancing drugs.

This gives baseball's drug-testing regimen a shot of credibility in my eyes. It's been a J.C Romero here, a raftload of Dominicans who can't afford designer PEDs there.

But this is Manny Ramirez, the biggest star on one of the sport's flagship franchises. If they'll catch and punish Manny, they'll catch and punish anybody. Considering the reports (denied by those supposedly involved) that union officials tipped Alex Rodriguez to a pending test, that's significant.

Manny and agents are being vague about the specifics — a personal medical condition, a prescription written by a physician who didn't know the drug would violate MLB's drug policy. The ESPN link above says Manny was using HCG, a fertility drug for women that is supposed to restart a steroid user's testosterone-making ability of the testicles. Which may seem like too much information, and is, except that unless we know what he was prescribed and what for (and can gauge the medical validity of such a prescription), protestations of innocent use can no longer be taken at face value.

e-mail Edward Thoma