A-Rod sues MLB, union to overturn drug ban

A-Rod sues MLB, union to overturn drug ban (Image 1)
A-Rod sues MLB, union to overturn drug ban (Image 1)

NEW YORK (AP) –  Alex Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball and its players' union
Monday, seeking to overturn a season-long suspension imposed by an
arbitrator who ruled there was “clear and convincing evidence” the New
York Yankees star used three banned substances and twice tried to
obstruct the sport's drug investigation.

As part of the complaint filed in federal court in
Manhattan, Rodriguez's lawyers made public Saturday's 34-page decision
by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who shortened a penalty originally set
at 211 games last August by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for
violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract.

Horowitz, a 65-year-old making his second decision
as baseball's independent arbitrator, trimmed the discipline to 162
games, plus all postseason games in 2014.

“While this length of suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed,” Horowitz wrote.

Horowitz concluded Rodriguez used testosterone,
human growth hormone and Insulin-like growth factor-1 in 2010, 2011 and
2012 in violation of baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. He relied on
evidence provided by the founder of the now-closed Biogenesis of America
anti-aging clinic in Florida.

“Direct evidence of those violations was supplied
by the testimony of Anthony Bosch and corroborated with excerpts from
Bosch's personal composition notebooks, BBMs (Blackberry messages)
exchanged between Bosch and Rodriguez, and reasonable inferences drawn
from the entire record of evidence,” Horowitz wrote. “The testimony was
direct, credible and squarely corroborated by excerpts from several of
the hundreds of pages of his composition notebooks.”

While the original notebooks were stolen, Horowitz allowed copies into evidence.

Rodriguez's suit accused the Major League Baseball
Players Association of “bad faith,” said its representation during the
hearing was “perfunctory at best” and accused it of failing to attack a
civil suit filed by MLB in Florida state court as part of its Biogenesis

His lawyers criticized Michael Weiner, the union
head who died from a brain tumor in November, for saying last summer he
recommended Rodriguez settle for a lesser penalty if MLB were to offer
an acceptable length.

“His claim is completely without merit, and we will
aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless
charges,” new union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “The players'
association has vigorously defended Mr. Rodriguez's rights throughout
the Biogenesis investigation, and indeed throughout his career. Mr.
Rodriguez's allegation that the association has failed to fairly
represent him is outrageous, and his gratuitous attacks on our former
executive director, Michael Weiner, are inexcusable.”

The suit also claimed MLB engaged in “ethically
challenged behavior” and was the source of media leaks in violation of
baseball's confidentiality rules.

Rodriguez's lawyers said Horowitz acted “with
evident partiality” and “refused to entertain evidence that was
pertinent and material.” They faulted Horowitz for denying Rodriguez's
request to have a different arbitrator hear the case, for not ordering
Selig to testify and for allowing Bosch to claim Fifth Amendment rights
against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions during

They also said Horowitz let the league introduce
“unauthenticated documents and hearsay evidence … obtained by theft,
coercion or payment,” wouldn't allow them to examine Blackberry devices
introduced by MLB and was fearful he would be fired if he didn't side
with management.

Rodriguez asked the court to throw out Horowitz's
decision and find the league violated its agreements with the union and
that the union breached its duty to represent him. The case was assigned
to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

Supreme Court decisions have set narrow grounds for
judges to vacate arbitration decisions, instances such as corruption or
not following the rules agreed to by the parties.

The three-time AL MVP admitted five years ago he
used performance-enhancing substances while with Texas from 2001-03, but
the third baseman has denied using them since. MLB's Biogenesis
investigation was sparked after the publication of documents last
January by Miami New Times.

Bosch agreed in June to cooperate with MLB and
testified during the hearing, which ran from September until November.
Rodriguez's lawyers attacked his credibility because of that deal, which
included reimbursement by MLB for costs of lawyers, up to $2,400 daily
for security, insulation from civil suits and a promise to tell law
enforcement he was cooperative.

“The benefits accorded to Bosch under that
arrangement did not involve inducements that the panel considers to be
improper,” wrote Horowitz, who chaired a three-man panel that included
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and union General Counsel David

Horowitz cited the credibility of Bosch's
“unrebutted testimony – testimony which was corroborated by substantial
documentary evidence,” and he described how Bosch and Rodriguez
communicated in code, referring to banned substances as “food.”

“Once when Bosch sent a message telling Rodriguez
that he was going to pick up Rodriguez's 'meds,' Rodriguez replied 'Not
meds dude. Food,'” the arbitrator wrote.

Rodriguez did not testify in the grievance, walking out after Horowitz refused to order Selig to testify.

At a brief hearing Monday, MLB said it would not
discipline Rodriguez for including the decision in his lawsuit. U.S.
District Judge William H. Pauley III brushed aside concerns from the
union about confidentiality concerns.

“Given the intense public interest in this matter
and Commissioner Selig's disclosures last night on '60 Minutes,' it's
difficult to imagine that any portion of this proceeding should be under
seal,” Pauley said.

The arbitrator noted Bosch and Rodriguez exchanged
556 text messages and had 53 telephone calls in 2012. He said all
records of text messages were produced by Bosch, while lawyers for
Rodriguez said the Blackberry he used to communicate with Bosch was
deactivated last March and Rodriguez no longer had it.

The arbitrator said Rodriguez instructed Bosch in one message to “erase all these messages.”

Horowitz recounted how Rodriguez was introduced to
Bosch after a Yankees game in Tampa, Fla., in July 2010 by A-Rod's
cousin, Yuri Sucart, who knew Bosch through Jorge “Oggi” Velazquez.

Horowitz wrote MLB was justified in citing
violations of the collective bargaining agreement because Rodriguez
“played an active role in inducing Bosch to issue his own public denial
on Jan. 29” and “attempted to induce Bosch to sign a sworn statement on
May 31” saying he never supplied the player.

In determining the length of the penalty, Horowitz
cited a 2008 decision in a grievance involving Neifi Perez in which
arbitrator Shyam Das ruled “separate uses are subject to separate
disciplines.” He said under the discipline system for positive tests,
Rodriguez would be subject to at least 150 games for three violations of
50 games. Still, Horowitz thought Selig's initial penalty was too

“A suspension of one season satisfies the
structures of just cause as commensurate with the severity of his
violations,” he wrote.

Rodriguez's lawyers claimed at worst the case
should involve one first violation with a penalty of 50 games, and they
said including the 2014 postseason was beyond the scope of Selig's
original discipline. Horowitz rejected Rodriguez's argument that the
lack of a positive test was proof of innocence.

“It is recognized Rodriguez passed 11 drug tests
administered by MLB from 2010 through 2012. The assertion that Rodriguez
would have failed those tests had he consumed those PES as alleged is
not persuasive. As advanced as MLB's program has become, no drug-testing
program will catch every player,” Horowitz wrote.

In Selig's notice of discipline to Rodriguez on
Aug. 5, he said MLB actively is investigating allegations he received
banned substances in 2009 from Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty in
2011 to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United
States from Canada.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

blog comments powered by Disqus