New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is banned from baseball for a year after an arbitrator slammed him with the largest punishment for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball history.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz suspended Rodriguez for 162 games, plus the offseason this year, the Yankees superstar announced in a statement today. The move will cost the 14-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player $25 million in salary plus millions more in performance incentives, reports the New York Daily News
The suspension comes after Rodriguez vehemently denied acquiring performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, a Miami-area anti-aging clinic, fighting the accusations while attacking Major League Baseball and the Yankees alike.
Rodriguez continues to deny that he used the drugs during the period in question, and said on a statement on his Facebook page
that he vows to appeal 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."
Further, Rodriguez said, the suspension is the MLB's first step toward abolishing contracts in 2016 and instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy.
"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, 38, said Saturday.
"No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.”
Horowitz's decision reduces a 211-game ban that Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig imposed
Major League Baseball said it respects the arbitrator's decision, reports Sports Illustrated
, but believes Selig's original 211-game suspension was appropriate.
Further, the MLB said it will "focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our games."
The Major League Baseball Players Association said it "strongly disagrees" with the decision.
"We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision," the MLBPA statement said. "In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.”
The Yankees issued a brief statement Saturday afternoon: “The New York Yankees respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel.”
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