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Looking Back: The Manny/A-Rod Steroid Controversies

12.30.09 at 9:48 pm ET

(WEEI.com is counting down the ‘€œTop 10 Things We Couldn’€™t Shut Up About In 2009,’€ with

the steroids controversies involving Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez coming in at No. 5. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the situation that resulted in a 50-game suspension for Ramirez and a national TV confession from A-Rod.)

No. 10: Bruins getting bounced by the Hurricanes

No. 9: Garnett’€™s knee injury alters Celtics’€™ fate

No. 8: The drama between Crowley and Gates Jr. and No. 7: The downfall of Steve Phillips

No. 6: The Red Sox reshape at the trade deadline

No. 5: The Manny/A-Rod steroid controversies

Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez were no strangers to controversy heading into 2009. But the firestorm of criticism that hit the two superstars after it was revealed that both players used banned substances was at a new level.

Rodriguez was the first chip to fall. On the heels of a Sports Illustrated report that he had tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, an anabolic steroid, in 2003, the Yankees third baseman participated in an emotional, sit-down interview Feb. 9 with ESPN’s Peter Gammons to confess ‘€” at least partly ‘€” two years after famously denying he ever used steroids in a “60 Minutes” interview with Katie Couric.

“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day,” Ramirez said of his stint with the Rangers.

“Back then, [baseball] was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

“I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”

Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he felt “personally betrayed” and “deceived by Alex.” Even Barack Obama weighed in, calling the revelation “depressing.”

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, the situation didn’t slow down the slugger. In fact, Rodriguez indicated to Gammons after the interview that finally telling the truth made him feel more at ease. Rodriguez missed spring training and the first month of the season with a hip injury. When he returned, he homered on the first pitch he saw and proceeded to help lift New York out of an early season funk. And while his regular-season stats were slightly below his normal standards (.286 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI), Rodriguez came up big in October, ending a long run of postseason failure with a number of clutch hits while helping the Yankees win the World Series, his first championship.

Ramirez’ situation came to light a month into the season, when he received a 50-game ban after allegedly testing positive during spring training for the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is taken by steroid users to restart their bodies’ natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. Reports indicated that Ramirez also tested positive for artificial testosterone, but facing a challenge from the player on that charge, the league did not pursue it as it already had enough to hand out a harsh punishment.

In a statement issued by the MLB players’ union, Ramirez said: “Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

While the general reaction was condemnation of the former Red Sox slugger, his current team and fans offered support.

“It’s a dark day for baseball and certainly for this organization,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “But people do make mistakes.”

Ramirez was welcomed back to “Mannywood” on July 3 and finished the season with a .290 average, 19 home runs and 63 RBI, helping the Dodgers win the NL West.

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports: Ken joined the show to help break down the entire A-Rod steroid story Audio|Mon, 9 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21848035/ken-rosenthal-fox-sports.htm

Mike Lupica, NY Daily News: Mike Lupica joins D&C to talk A-Rod Audio|Tue, 17 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21884959/mike-lupica-ny-daily-news.htm

Curt Schilling: Curt calls in to talk A-Rod, A-Rod and more A-Rod Audio|Tue, 10 Feb 200: http://audio.weei.com/m/21851766/curt-schilling.htm

D&C Opening Segment – 2-9-09: Dino and Gerry open the show with A-Rod talk: http://audio.weei.com/m/21847476/d-c-opening-segment-2-9-09.htm

Joel Sherman, NY Post: Joel Sherman joins Dennis and Callahan to talk A-Rod Audio|Mon, 9 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21847477/joel-sherman-ny-post.htm

Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus: Will said there is no good explanation on why Manny took HCG and that Ramirez needs to come out and tell his side of the story right now Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254122/will-carroll-baseball-prospectus.htm

Curt Schilling, Former Sox Pitcher: Schilling joins Dino and Gerry to talk Mannywood Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254719/curt-schilling-former-sox-pitcher.htm

Sean Casey, MLB Network: Casey joins Dennis & Callahan to recap Mannygate Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254724/sean-casey-mlb-network.htm

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports: Ken talked about what the Red Sox could do if David Ortiz continues his hitting funk and also what he thought about the Manny Ramirez suspension Audio|Tue, 12 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22275884/ken-rosenthal-fox-sports.htm

Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager: Terry talked about the Sox battling through some injuries and if he has ever had to deal with any players who have used PEDs Audio|Wed, 13 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22285354/terry-francona-red-sox-manager.htm

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