The arbitrator hearing Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez’s appeal dropped the hammer on the lightning rod third baseman, suspending Rodriguez for the entire 2014 season, the longest doping ban in baseball’s history.
MLB released a statement Saturday announcing the 162-game suspension, which also includes the postseason.
Rodriguez won a slight victory with arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reducing the ban from 211 games.
Rodriguez, in a statement on his Facebook page, once again denied using performance enhancing substances, as alleged by Major League Baseball. The three-time Most Valuable Player immediately announced his plans to appeal the arbitrator’s ruling 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.”
He added: “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.”
Multiple news outlets have reported that it’s unlikely a federal judge will overturn an arbitrator’s decision in a labor case.
Rodriguez now becomes the 13th player to be suspended as part of MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis, a now-defunct Florida anti-aging clinic.
A-Rod, who was originally facing a 211-game ban, was the only player linked to the Biogenesis probe to appeal.
The Major League Players Association released a statement Saturday saying it “strongly disagrees” with Horowitz’s season-long ban, despite the reduced suspension.
But, the players association said “we respect the collectively bargained arbitration process” and will make no further comment regarding the issue.
Rodriguez will not be paid the $25 million owed to him in 2014 while he serves the suspension. But, the Yankees still owe the slugger $61 million until 2017. It’s unclear what the future holds for Rodriguez, who has battled several injuries and has experienced a drop off in productivity at the plate.
Still, Rodriguez said, “I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship.”
“I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal,” he said.