Alex Rodriguez was dealt a 162-game suspension after an arbitrator upheld most of the player’s punishment in response to a 2013 steroids scandal. Several news outlets are reporting that the New York Yankees third baseman and three-time Most Valuable Player will be sidelined for the upcoming season and won’t be eligible to return to the field until 2015. The suspension also includes all playoff games in 2014.
The announcement of Rodriguez’s suspension from baseball was made Saturday by Major League Baseball’s chief arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz. The decision came as a result of an earlier investigation into the 38-year-old New York native’s use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, which investigators say he obtained illegally from a clinic in Miami that has since closed its doors. The clinic, called Biogenesis, was operated by Anthony Bosch, who was reported to have had a close relationship with Rodriguez.
In early 2013, the Miami New Times obtained documents from a former Biogenesis employee that suggested several major league baseball players tested positive for steroids, including testosterone. The paper listed the names of 13 players, including Rodriguez, who were involved in the doping scheme. The Biogenesis scandal, as it came to be known, set off a firestorm of legal battles and highly publicized disputes between the players, particularly A-Rod, the MLB and their respective legal teams.
According to the New York Times, Rodriguez’s suspension is the longest in baseball history for doping charges. Rodriguez, arguably the best baseball player of his generation and one of the highest home-run hitters of all time, has said he feels like he was treated unfairly.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” Rodriguez said in a statement on Saturday. “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.”
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Rodriguez said the “injustice” of the arbitrator’s decision is a sign of Major League Baseball’s “corrupt investigative program.” Rodriguez has maintained throughout the investigation that he has not used steroids since the early 2000s. “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,” he said.
Several other players who were accused along with Rodriguez of using performance-enhancing drugs obtained illegally from Biogenesis accepted 50-game suspensions back in August of 2013. Rodriguez, the highest-profile player of those accused of doping, was initially handed a 211-game ban, but was allowed to continue playing while he appealed the ruling.
“He would have been better off admitting he got drugs from Bosch and tried to make a case for 50 games as a first-time violator,” a baseball source who has closely followed the case told New York Daily News.
Following Saturday’s ruling to uphold A-Rod’s suspension, Rodriguez will have to forfeit his $25 million salary for the 2014 season, along with any incentives he would have earned.