Arbitrator Hits Alex Rodriguez With Full-Season Ban For Alleged Performance-Enhancing Drug Use
The ban is the longest in the MLB program's history.
An arbitrator ruled Saturday that Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez should be suspended for a full season for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, the New York Daily News reports.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's historic 162-game suspension — the longest in the MLB drug program's history — will extend to any postseason games and cost Rodriguez $25 million in this year's salary, plus millions from lost performance incentives.
While significant, Horowitz's ruling did stop short of upholding the full 211-game ban baseball commissioner Bud Selig sought to impose last August.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez was accused by the MLB of acquiring performance-enhancing drugs from the now-shuttered Miami-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, which has been linked to dozens of professional ballplayers.
The 14-time All Star and three-time Most Valuable Player hasn't tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs since 2003, when the league conducted non-punitive survey testing whose results were supposed to be kept confidential.
Rodriguez again denied the league's accusations in a statement this morning, describing the ruling as an "injustice" and vowing he would bring the fight to federal court.
"No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me," he said.
In a statement, a representative for Major League Baseball said they stood by the "fair and effective" arbitration process.
"For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights. While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game."
Rodriguez's full statement was posted on his Facebook page:
"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one," Rodriguez said. "This is one man's decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB's first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."