AFP - Los Angeles Dodgers star Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and has been slapped with a 50-game suspension, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday.
The ban is effective immediately which means Ramirez will not be eligible to return to the Los Angeles lineup until July 3.
The 12-time all-star Ramirez, who turns 37 later this month, is one of the best players in the Dodgers squad who have won 13-straight games at home and have the top record in baseball.
Ramirez blamed the positive drug test on a doctor, but didn't say whether it was a Dodgers team doctor.
He denied taking steroids and said the problem stems from medication he took for personal use.
"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid," Ramirez said. "I have taken and passed 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.
"I apologize. Los Angeles is a special place to me and I know everybody is disappointed."
Ramirez, who will be docked 7.7 million dollars in salary, will start his suspension by missing Thursday's game at Dodgers Stadium against the Washington Nationals.
Ramirez is the first marquee player to be suspended under MLB's stepped-up drug policy adopted in 2006.
Under the policy, a player receives a 50-game suspension for a first positive drug test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third positive test.
Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent this spring after finding few other takers willing to take on his huge salary.
Los Angeles eventually signed him to a two-year deal that pays him 25 million dollars.