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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why MLB suspended Alex Rodriguez 211 games

Alex Rodriguez YankeesMajor League Baseball acted outside the scope of the league’s drug policy when it suspended Alex Rodriguez 211 games. The league’s drug policy calls for a 50-game suspension for a first violation of the policy; 100-game suspension for the second; and a lifetime ban for a third violation. Rodriguez never failed a drug test, so how did MLB get off suspending the New York Yankees third baseman for the rest of this season and the entire 2014 season? That is what A-Rod is wondering, and why he, with the backing from the players’ union, is appealing the suspension.

In his statement, MLB commissioner Bud Selig explained why Rodriguez was suspended.

The penalty was for “[Rodriguez’s] use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years.”

MLB struck a deal with Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch, who provided evidence to them of A-Rod’s use of PEDs. According to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, Bosch provided MLB with text messages, emails, phone records, other records to show that A-Rod doped since at least 2009. Bosch told MLB what drugs Rodriguez took, when he took them, how often, and where.

50 or even 100 of the 211 games could have been for single or double violations of the league’s drug policy, depending on how MLB evaluated things. But they suspended Rodriguez for much more than that.

In addition to the penalty for violating the drug policy, MLB is suspending A-Rod for a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and players’ association.

Selig’s statement said Rodriguez’s penalty for violating the labor agreement was “for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”

MLB has evidence that Rodriguez obstructed the case.

It’s unclear if MLB believes punishing A-Rod for his attempted coverup is a violation of the best interest of the game clause in the CBA. Here’s what that specific clause (Article XII B of the Basic Agreement) states:

“Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law.”

It’s unlikely that Rodriguez is objecting to the evidence the league has against him concerning PED use. MLB’s evidence must be accurate, otherwise Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, and the dozen other players would not have accepted their punishments without an appeal. Rodriguez and his lawyers will likely attack the extra 100 games or so MLB tacked onto the suspension for a violation of the CBA. That number was arbitrarily determined by Selig and seems like it might not hold up in an arbitration case.



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