Alex Rodriguez’s drug suspension has been reduced to 162 games, potentially sidelining the slugger for the entire 2014 season.
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NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s drug suspension was cut to 162 games from 211 by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, a decision the New York Yankees third baseman vowed to fight in federal court.
Rodriguez also would be sidelined for any postseason games this year under the decision announced Saturday.
“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. “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 three-time AL MVP was given the 211-game penalty by Commissioner Bud Selig on Aug. 5 following Major League Baseball’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance saying the discipline was without “just cause”
Horowitz, who became the sport’s independent arbitrator in 2012, heard the case over 12 sessions from Sept. 30 until Nov. 20. Technically, he chaired a three-man arbitration panel that included MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and union General Counsel Dave Prouty.
Despite the ban, baseball’s drug rules allow Rodriguez to participate in spring training and play in exhibition games.
While the 38-year-old Rodriguez could fight the ruling in court, judges rarely overturn arbitrators’ decisions.
“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,” MLB said in a statement.
The union said in a statement it “strongly disagrees” with the decision but said “we recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached.
“We respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision,” the union said in a statement.
Rodriguez, however, seems intent on continuing the fight.
“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,” he said.
“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.”