In the wake of Tuesday's report linking Alex Rodriguez to performance-enhancing drugs, the New York Yankees star could be subject to the hollowest of suspensions: a ban on playing in games he would sit out anyway.
Major League Baseball could not suspend Rodriguez on the basis of a newspaper report. However, if league investigators can use the documents in the report to uncover sufficient evidence that Rodriguez used banned substances, MLB can suspend him even in the absence of a positive drug test.
However, with Rodriguez expected to sit out much, if not all, of the 2013 season after hip surgery, he could serve out a 50-game suspension while on the disabled list.
Under the MLB drug policy, a suspension is not held in abeyance for an injured player. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis served an entire 50-game suspension last season while rehabilitating a back injury.
Rodriguez has admitted his use of performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. However, because MLB had no program of testing or punishment in place at that time, Rodriguez would be treated as a first-time offender, with the accompanying 50-game suspension, if an MLB investigation were to warrant a suspension.