No Prescription Exemption, No Appeal for Manny

At this point, we've heard all about how Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. What we didn't know until now, however, was that Manny may have had a shot at appealing the impending suspension, until something discovered in his own medical records sealed the deal.

The initial test results that triggered an investigation by MLB showed abnormally high levels of testosterone, which the Ramirez camp had planned to explain away by arguing the presence of DHEA -- a steroid precursor which isn't allowed in Olympic competition, but isn't illegal under federal law and isn't mentioned in baseball's drug policy.

That argument was made moot, however, once the league got a hold of Manny's medical records, which showed a prescription for a substance which is banned: HCG. And because he hadn't gotten permission to use it ahead of time, he was all but done.

Ramirez had not obtained a therapeutic-use exemption from baseball, which certifies the use of banned substances for proven medical need.

That "non-analytical evidence" -- that is, evidence beyond a positive test -- was the basis for the 50-game suspension. On the eve of the hearing scheduled last Wednesday, Ramirez dropped his appeal, and the suspension was announced the following day.

So the simple question that comes to mind is, why wouldn't Manny just get that "therapeutic-use" exemption before taking something on the banned substance list that was prescribed to him by a doctor?

The simple answer is likely the reason that HCG is banned in the first place: because no athlete would have any reason to take it, unless they had just finished with a cycle of steroids.

This information is interesting in that it shows how players try to get around the system. But they wouldn't need to work these angles if they didn't put banned substances into their bodies to begin with.

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