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Manny Ramirez Suspended after Testing Positive

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Sports Illustrated: Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance, incurring an immediate 50-game ban and serving the highest-profile reminder yet that the use of such drugs in the testing area may have been reduced, but not eradicated.

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Major League Baseball plans to announce the suspension later today. Ramirez, a baseball source told SI.com, explained to baseball officials he was uncertain that he was taking a banned substance and may have had a medical reason for using the substance.

The source said the substance was not classified as a steroid but was clearly defined as a banned performance-enhancer according to the drug agreement between baseball the players association. Banned substances can only be taken with prior knowledge and medical clearance from baseball's drug program administrators. Such exceptions are known as Theraputic Use Exemptions, or TUEs. The suspension is an indication that Ramirez did not have a TUE for the substance.

Ramirez is the first major star to be suspended under baseball's stricter drug-testing rules that went into effect in 2003. Until now, baseball and the players union have portrayed drug use in baseball has having been nearly eradicated in the past few years, pointing out that the major drug-related stories - involving Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and the revelations in the Mitchell Report - involved drug use prior to the 2003 tightening of the program.

Ramirez ranks 17th on the all-time home run list with 533. Eight of those top 17 home run hitters played in what is commonly referred to as The Steroid Era. And six of those eight modern-day sluggers have been associated with performance-enhancing drugs: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. The only modern sluggers to have escaped such a connection are Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome.

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