NEW YORK, NY – Alex Rodriguez has been issued a 162-game ban for his role in the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic scandal after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz handed down his decision late Saturday morning. The ruling also includes any potential playoff games in 2014.
Though still a reduction from the 211-game ban issued by Major League Baseball in August, it is the largest ban issued for performance-enhancing drugs to date.
The testimony of Anthony Bosch, the clinic's proprietor, was a key element in Major League Baseball's case against Rodriguez, as were copies of the records, which baseball paid in excess of $125,000 to obtain.
Rodriguez was one of thirteen players suspended as a result of the investigation into the Biogenesis clinic, though no other player had received more than the 65 games handed to Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. All other players involved, including Rodriguez’s teammate, Francisco Cervelli, were suspended 50 games.
Rodriguez has noted throughout the past year that the process which Major League Baseball was using was biased against him. Rodriguez’s frustrations came to a head when he walked out of a November appeal hearing and cursed at an MLB official after finding out that Commissioner Bud Selig would not have to testify.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one," Rodriguez acknowledged in his statement released immediately following Horowitz’s ruling. "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.”
Rodriguez also took time to indicate why he felt Major Leauge Baseball was taking this course, indicating his belief of a conspiracy by the League to make significant changes to the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“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.”
Rodriguez reiterated in his statement his vehement denial from November that he has not taken any performance-enhancing drugs during his tenure with the New York Yankees and indicated he plans to appeal his suspension in federal court.
“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.”
In his statement, Rodriguez noted his belief that he has been a crusader for players’ rights in the next round of collective bargaining, which is set for 2016.
“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.”
In closing his statement, Rodriguez indicated that he does not believe his career is over, despite the fact that he will be turning 39 in July, coming off two hip surgeries, and when reinstated in 2015, will have played just 44 games in the past two seasons.
“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.”
If the 162-game suspension holds up in federal court, the New York Yankees stand to save roughly $25 million towards the luxury tax threshold. However, even with Rodriguez likely off the books for 2014, the team may still have trouble getting beneath their goal of $189 million due to their pursuit of Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and the need for a new third baseman.