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Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the rest of this season and all of 2014 for violating MLB's joint drug program, the league has announced.
It's a 211-game ban — the longest drug suspension the league has ever handed out.
Rodriguez was connected to Biogenesis, a Miami-based anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB said he took testosterone and human growth hormone "over the course of multiple years," and accused him of trying to obstruct he investigation.
He will be allowed to play while appealing the decision, which he has vowed to do in a brief statement. Oddly, he could be in the Yankees starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
MLB was believed to be prepared to ban A-Rod for life under a provision in the collective-bargaining agreement that gives commissioner Bud Selig broad powers to punish players for conduct detrimental to the best interest of the game.
But the league could have faced an ugly, expensive legal battle in federal court if they took that harsh measure.
Now the appeal will go through MLB's internal arbitration process, not a court of law.
Twelve other alleged Biogenesis clients were suspended today, but they all agreed to 50-game bans without appealing.
From the official release:
Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is 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. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez’s suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline
Bud Selig released his own statement, saying the joint drug program did its job.
A-Rod's already an outcast in New York, we can't imagine what the reception will be like in Chicago tonight:
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) August 5, 2013
Under MLB rules, the arbitrator has the hear the appeal within 20 days of when the suspension is announced. So that hearing could come down on August 25th.
Here's A-Rod's statement:
"I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this."
The Yankees also released a statement saying they'll decline comment until the appeal is heard:
We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.
However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees' role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.
Separately, we are disappointed with the news today of the suspension of Francisco Cervelli. It’s clear that he used bad judgment.
It's not over.
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