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Ramirez's excuse: We've heard it before

The Los Angeles Dodger says he took a drug he did not know was banned. True or not, the excuse adds to a lengthening line of equivocations from ballplayers suspected of doping.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / May 8, 2009

Today, Manny Ramirez made his historic addition to the lexicon of Major League Baseball: "personal health issue."

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The Los Angeles Dodger outfielder, as prodigiously talented as he is peculiar, has tested positive for a banned substance and been suspended for 50 games. But it was not a steroid, he insists. It was medication for a "personal health issue."

Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn't. But in a sport that has given us the simple eloquence of Lou Gehrig, who declared himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth," to the endearing absurdities of Yogi Berra, the most memorable quotes of the modern game all have the ring of "the dog ate my homework."

Pitcher Roger Clemens gave us lidocaine and B12 – a painkiller and a vitamin that he, somewhat curiously, decided to have injected into his buttocks. They were not steroids and human growth hormone, he insists, though his trainer now says they were.

Barry Bonds gave us flaxseed oil and rubbing balm, saying that's what he thought his trainer was giving him for arthritis. It they were steroids, he didn't know it, he told a federal grand jury in 2003. He is now preparing for a perjury trial.

Alex Rodriguez gave the world what appeared to be honesty: Yes, he said, he did use steroids – but only from 2001 to 2003. Tosh, says a soon-to-be-released book by the Sports Illustrated journalist who broke the news of the positive drug test in 2003. The book alleges Rodriguez continued taking them after he was traded to the New York Yankees and perhaps as early as high school.

Various reports suggest that the drug in question with Ramirez is hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Apparently, the only plausible medical reason that a man would take hCG is to increase his sperm count. is reporting that a source close to Ramirez says the slugger took the drug for erectile dysfunction.