Alex Rodriguez had his drug related suspension cut from the original 211 games to 162 by mediator Fredric Horowitz. The third baseman for the New York Yankees said he was willing to battle this decision in federal court.
Under the same ruling, Rodriguez would also not be allowed to play in any postseason games in 2014. The ruling was announced Saturday and will cost him up to $25 million. There is $86 million left on the baseball player’s contract.
Rodriguez said on his Facebook page that he felt the decision was unfair and should have been put before a panel or a jury. He said he was not surprised at the decision as he felt that things had been lined up against him from the beginning. He said that he had not failed a single drug test and that the suspension is based on testimony and documentation that would have never been allowed in any United States court. He said the documentation and testimony was completely false and lacking in reliability.
The three-time American League MVP was originally penalized 211 games by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig after the Commission released findings from an investigation of an anti-aging clinic. The Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic was accused of the distribution of performance enhancing pharmaceuticals that were on the banned list. In response to the discipline, a grievance was filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association saying the consequence issued was without merit.
Horowitz was actually the chair of a three man panel that included union lawyer Dave Prouty and Rob Manfred, chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Commission. The panel heard the case over a period of time between September 30 and November 22 of last year. Altogether, the hearing encompassed twelve separate sessions for the panel to hear all arguments for and against the suspension.
Some reporters have speculated that the decision handed down on Saturday to suspend Rodriguez for 162 games may ultimately end his baseball career. One sportswriter said that it was actually what Major League Baseball (MLB) wanted all along – to get Rodriquez out of the game.
In an official statement, MLB stated while they felt their original suspension was a good decision, they would respect the ruling of the panel. The MLB also said they would continue to focus on ways to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from the game of professional baseball.
The MLB players union expressed strong disagreement with the ruling. However, in the same statement, they said they would view the decision as binding and final and would respect the process that led to it. The Yankees released a similar statement.
However, as mentioned earlier, Rodriquez has announced that he is planning to fight the ruling. The baseball player told reporters that the decision was an injustice and that it is only the first move in MLB’s attempt to do away with guaranteed contracts by the time bargaining rounds start in 2016.
Rodriquez also maintained that the accusation was false and that he has never used any substances that could be characterized as performance-enhancing. He said he would take the case to federal court in order to clear his name. According to Rodriguez, the evidence presented by the MLB was less than credible and he was confident that a federal would overturn the decision when everything was brought to light.
A total of fourteen players were penalized as a result of the investigation into the activities of the anti-aging clinic. Each player accepted the penalties. Most were suspended for 50 games. Ryan Braun, an outfielder for Milwaukee, sat out the season’s last 65 games.
In 2009, Rodriguez admitted the use of such drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 through 2003. However, he has repeatedly said that he has not taken part in any drug activity since that time.
The sentence more than doubled the one given to Guillermo Mota, a San Francisco pitcher. Mota was given a suspension of 100 games last year for his second offense. Miguel Tejada, infielder for Kansas City was banned for 105 games during the summer of 2013 after testing positive for the third time for amphetamines.
In an effort to reverse the decision made by Horowitz and the panel, Rodriguez’s attorneys could possibly recall section 10 in the Federal Arbitration Act, which indicates a decision could be reversed if it was arrived at by fraud, corruption, or other means where there was definite partiality or evidence of corruption among the arbitrators. A decision could also be reversed if it was found that arbitrators refused to hear pertinent evidence or exceeded the limits of their powers.
When the panel was meeting on November 21, Rodriguez left rather abruptly in the middle of the hearing after Horowitz declined to compel Selig to testify. Both sides rested the next day. On Saturday, the panel released their decision to discipline Rodriguez with a 162 game suspension.
By Rick Hope