The long and contentious legal battle between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball came to a head on Saturday when arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced the original 211-game suspension for the New York Yankees star to 162 games, which would ban Rodriguez for the entire 2014 regular season and postseason.
But Rodriguez, punished for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, has vowed to continue his fight, saying through a spokesman that he will contest Saturday’s decision in federal court.
“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.”
The MLB Players Assn. issued a statement criticizing the ruling but respecting the decision, an indication that it will not back the third baseman in further legal proceedings.
“The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the arbitration panel’s decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez’s unprecedented 211-game suspension,” the union said. “We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively bargained arbitration process which led to it.”
MLB issued a statement saying, “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, a three-time American League most valuable player who has hit 654 home runs over a 20-year career, reiterated his claim that he has not taken PEDs during his 10 seasons with the Yankees.
While 12 other players, including Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, were suspended as a result of the investigation into Biogenesis, the now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic that was accused of distributing PEDs, Rodriguez’s name was clearly the biggest.
“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,” Rodriguez said in his statement.
“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.”
Rodriguez will be owed $61 million from 2015-2017, the final three years of his 10-year, $275-million contract, but the Yankees will clear $25 million to $30 million from the 2014 books, which should enable them to make a run at Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and get under the $189-million luxury tax threshold.
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