Alex Rodriguez will be banned from returning to play for the Yankees during the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season, including any post-season games, according to the ruling of an independent arbitrator. Saturday’s decision by Fredric Horowitz upholds a majority of the original 211-game suspension against the third baseman that Major League Baseball handed down in August. MLB does allow banned players to play in spring training and in exhibition games.
Horowitz made his ruling after having presided over 12 sessions with MLB, Alex Rodriguez, and A-Rod’s attorneys that lasted from Sept. 30 to Nov. 20 of 2013.
Rodriguez’s suspension will prevent him from earning $25 million of his $86 million salary and raise doubts about his future in baseball. Alex Rodriguez turns 40 this year, which will make a return to baseball with the Yankees after serving the ban upheld on Saturday questionable due to health and age issues. According to New York Daily News baseball columnist, Bill Madden, “His physical situation being what it is, he’s not going to be able to come back to baseball, and that’s what baseball wanted – they wanted him out of the game.”
The long process involving Rodriguez began in January of 2012, when the Miami New Times found his name among records of Biogenesis of America, a small anti-aging clinic located in a strip mall in Coral Gables, Fla. that has been accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s). At the time of the discovery, A-Rod denied being treated or advised by Biogenesis or its director, Anthony Bosch, and said that any documents found that related to him were false.
Biogenesis fell under increased scrutiny by the media, which resulted in a report linking Ryan Braun, MLB’s National League MVP in 2011, to the clinic. MLB then declared that any players involved with Biogenesis or Bosch would be investigated thoroughly.
The investigation was long and fraught with rumors of unseemly tactics by MLB and Alex Rodriguez’s lawyers, who eventually filed a lawsuit in October against the commissioner of MLB, Bud Selig, and MLB itself for what they claimed were unscrupulous tactics and behavior involving witnesses.
True to his attitude since the allegations surfaced that he was using performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s), A-Rod’s released a statement on Facebook regarding the ruling that was petulant and defiant, stating that the “deck has been stacked against me from day one.” Calling the ruling an “injustice” and the investigation “corrupt,” he vows that he will appeal the suspension in federal court. According to USA Today baseball columnist, Bob Nightengale, “That’s a real, real longshot. There’s really no chance federal court’s going to step in and bother with this.”
During the investigation, A-Rod continued to play baseball for the Yankees. In 2013, Alex Rodriguez suffered injuries that sidelined him for a large part of the season. His return to the line-up coincided with MLB’s final punishments against players involved with Biogenesis. Braun received and did not contest a 65 game suspension and 13 more players were also suspended – 12 of whom were suspended for 50 games each. A-Rod’s suspension for 211 games was the largest ever meted out by MLB, which justified the precedent-setting penalty by noting Rodriguez’s alleged “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years…for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”
A-Rod appealed his suspension, which allowed him to play during the 2013 MLB season.
MLB issued a statement after Saturday’s ruling expressing their acceptance of the shortened suspension for Alex Rodriguez and vowing to continue fighting the scourge of PED’s in MLB.
Alex Rodriguez, who now finds his ban from baseball during the 2014 season upheld, vows that he will return to play for the Yankees.
By Jennifer Pfalz