When Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez signed his 10-year $275 million deal with the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner in Dec. 13, 2007, it anticipated his whopping legal fees to defend himself against Major League Baseball’s allegations of violating its PED policy. Since banned by MLB Aug. 5, 2013 for 211 games or the entire 2014 season and post-season, Rodriguez continues his categorical denials of PED use while playing for the New York Yankees from 2004 through the 2013 season. While admitting PED use in 2001-2003 while with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez emphatically denies any PED use playing for the Yankees. Rodriquez admitted to having an “enormous amount of pressure” prompting him, like other ballplayers of the steroid era, to use PEDs, the same drugs used in Barry Bonds PED scandal with Victor Conte’s Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative [BALCO] fiasco.
What makes Rodriguez case so egregious was his admissions in the 2001-2003 seasons of PED use but emphatic denials while getting the highest paid contract in MLB history. “All my years in New York have been clean,” Rodriguez told ESPN Feb. 10, 2009. He started using steroids in 2001 given to him by his cousin from the Dominican Republic to recover from a spring training injury while playing for the Rangers. “I did take a banned substance. And for that I am very sorry and deeply regretful,” said Alex admitted to ESPN, only a year before former Oakland Athletic left-fielder Jose Canseco blew the whistle on Major League Baseball’s steroid problem in his 2005 book, Juiced: Rampant Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big, naming the baseballs biggest PED users. Canseco’s book prompted MLB to appoint former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) March 30, 2006 to investigate PED use and report to Congress.
When the 409-page Mitchell Report was published Dec. 13, 2007, it named numerous ballplayers for PED use, prompting MLB to a adopt strict policy with the Players’ Assn. to slow down the sport’s drug problem. Despite Rodriguez’s admission that his “cousin” gave his “boli” the Dominican street name for Primobolan or Dianabol, Alex was implicated also in Victor Conte’s Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative [BALCO] that supplied tetrahydrogestrione [THG] AKA “the clear” to San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, former NY Yankee teammate Jason Giambi and others. Wherever Rodriquez got his drugs or whatever he took in 2001-2003, he emphatically denied use while playing for the New York Yankees. “All my years in New York have been clean,” Rodriguez told ESPN in 2009, finally suspended by MLB Aug. 5, 2013 for 211 games in 2014.
Rodriguez’s Aug. 5, 2013 211-game suspension stemmed from his PED abuse at Anthony Bosch’s Coral Gables, Fl., Biogenesis Anti-aging clinic from 2011 to present. Before Bosch and Biogenesis came to light, Rodriguez was linked to Canadian sports doctor Anthony Galea known for treating athletes with Human Growth Hormone [HGH] and Actovegin, an extract from calf-blood used by former U.S. Postal Service cyclist Lance Armstrong. Despite the reports of PED abuse throughout his MLB career, Rodriguez appealed his 211-game suspension. On Jan. 11, MLB arbitrator Frederic Horowoitz reduced Alex’s suspension to 162 games, including playoff games. “Based on the entire record from arbitration,” Horowitz wrote. “MLB has demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence there is just cause to suspend Rodriguez for the 2014 season and 2014 post-season . . . “ for violating MLB’s PED policy.
Alex’s legal team led by Joe Tacopino wants to up the burden of proof in federal court to “beyond-a-reasonable doubt,” not the “clear-and-convincing” standard used in MLB’s arbitration. U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III rejected Rodriguez’s request to prevent Horowitz’s arbitration report from evidence in federal court. “Given the intense public interest in this matter, and Commissioner’s Selig’s disclosures last night on ’60 Minutes,’ it’s difficult to imagine any portion of this proceeding should be filed under seal,” said Pauley. Tacopino wants to subpoena Bosch and other witnesses in front of jury to have MLB’s arbitration ruling overturned. While it’s possible to impeach witnesses under cross examination, it doesn’t exonerate Alex. Players’ Assn. union Counsel Dave Prouty wants portions of the arbitration report redacted because it violates the union’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Dragging Rodriguez’s case into federal court, Tacopino hopes to get his hands on key witnesses, especially Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch who tried-and-convicted Alex on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” No matter how damaging the evidence against Rodriguez, it’s not difficult to impeach Bosch on the witness stand when the burden of proof uses a different, more stringent standard of “beyond and reasonable doubt.” Mixing apples and oranges, no federal court can vacate and arbitration ruling based on applying MLB’s arbitrary rules for PED use. Whether or not Tacopino impeachs Bosch, the fact remains that MLB sets its own rules without applying arcane legal standards applied in criminal court. While Rodriguez has the cash to defend himself in federal court, MLB’s PED rules don’t require the same standards as U.S. criminal court. Any ruling in federal court isn’t relevant to MLB’s arbitration policy.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.