MLB also accused Rodriguez of covering up his involvement in the scandal, allegations the league only made against him. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players’ association, a first-time violation of the drug policy mandates a 50-game ban, a second violation brings 100 games.
“Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up [sic] his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”
Rodriguez’s suspension becomes effective Thursday.
“We pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “For weeks, I have noted the many players throughout the game who have strongly voiced their support on this issue, and I thank them for it.”
The sweeping suspensions include three 2013 all-stars — San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Also suspended: Philadelphia reliever Antonio Bastardo, Catcher Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees, Houston reliever Sergio Escalona, Seattle catcher Jesus Montero and outfielder Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets, along with minor leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos and Cesar Puello.
Gio Gonzalez, the only Washington National linked to the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, was not suspended. MLB specifically exonerated Gonzalez, who had always argued that his father was the one who had received drugs from Biogenesis, along with Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia.
The Biogenesis case – and the resulting suspensions – show unequivocally that players continue to search for ways to circumvent the scope of testing MLB once hoped would clean up a drug-addled sport.
In late 2007, when former Sen. George Mitchell issued his sweeping and damning report about baseball’s widespread drug problem, Selig immediately labeled it “a call to action.” Baseball then bargained with the players’ union for a more stringent testing program – more tests each year, with more substances banned. Home runs totals subsequently decreased, and the popular narrative became simple: The sport had a problem, addressed it, exposed at least some who violated the game, and the “steroid era” was over.
The clinic was first exposed in January by the Miami New Times newspaper, which tied it through financial transactions and appointment books to several major leaguers. MLB officials extensively interviewed the firm’s founder, Anthony Bosch, during their investigation. MLB also paid for documents that showed links between the firm and baseball players.
Rodriguez’s suspension follows the July 22 ban of former National League MVP Ryan Braun, who also turned up in Bosch’s Biogenesis ledgers. Milwaukee’s Braun was suspended for the final 65 games of this season — a season in which he was dealing with a bad thumb and found the Brewers in last place in their division. Braun forfeits about $3.5 of his $8.5 million salary this year, but the Brewers still owe him $113 million between 2014 and 2020, and that remains unchanged.
Rodriguez is owed $61 million by the Yankees from 2015-17, and could earn millions more as he pursues the all-time home run record. But his standing with the Yankees and in the game have fallen off significantly over the past two seasons, not only because of his murky history with performance-enhancing drugs, but because of iffy health (he hasn’t played more than 138 games in any season since 2007) and declining production (34 homers in 2011 and 2012 combined). Rodriguez has missed this entire season after undergoing hip surgery in January.
Rodriguez, who trails only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, has a sordid history with performance-enhancing drugs. In early 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez had twice tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003, when he was in his final year with Texas, and at spring training that year, Rodriguez copped to being “young and stupid” when he injected himself with what he said was an over-the-counter supplement bought in the Dominican Republic.
Yet even then, when asked if what he had done was cheating, he said: “That’s not for me to determine.”
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