A-Rod, 12 others suspended by MLB for drugs

Posted August 5, 2013

— Alex Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case — the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago.

Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension last month and previous penalties bring to 18 the total number of players sanctioned for their relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.

The harshest penalty was reserved for Rodriguez, the New York Yankees slugger, a three-time Most Valuable Player and baseball's highest-paid star. He said he would appeal his suspension, which covers 211 games, by Thursday's deadline. And since arbitrator Fredric Horowitz isn't expected to rule until November or December, Rodriguez is free to play the rest of this season. Interactive: MLB drug investigation

The other 12 players have already agreed to their 50-game penalties.

The message of the suspensions came through loud and clear to the minor leaguers practicing before Monday evening's game between the Carolina Mudcats and Potomac Nationals in Zebulon.

Mudcats catcher David Wallace said, "Cleaning up the game and really cracking down on those guys is definitely sending a message to us that we shouldn't be doing that stuff."

Fellow catcher Alex Lavisky was both surprised and satisfied with MLB's moves.

"Apparently there's still guys out there doing it, which kind of blows my mind, but that's good that they're getting exposed, they're getting penalized for it," Lavisky said.

MLB said A-Rod's drug penalty was for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years."

His punishment under the labor contract was "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."

Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03, but has repeatedly denied using them since.

Sidelined since hip surgery in January, Rodriguez was due to make his season debut for the Yankees five hours after the suspension, in a series opener at the Chicago White Sox.

"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," Rodriguez said in Chicago. He arrived at U.S. Cellular Field in a dark Cadillac, wearing a dark suit. A-Rod waved at fans about 100 feet away behind barricades, and went into a side entrance.

The suspensions are thought to be the most at once for off-the-field conduct since 1921, when Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned eight Chicago White Sox players for life for throwing the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati: Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsh, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullen, Charles "Swede" Risberg, Buck Weaver and Claude "Lefty" Williams. They had been suspended by the team the previous year and were penalized by baseball even though they had been acquitted of criminal charges.

As for the modern-day All-Stars, Cruz, an outfielder, leads Texas in RBIs and Peralta has been a top hitter and slick-fielding shortstop for Detroit, a pair of teams in the midst of pennant races. They will be eligible to return for the postseason.

Others agreeing included Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; and free agent pitchers Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto.

While the players' association has fought many drug penalties over the past three decades, attitudes of its membership have shifted sharply in recent years and union staff encouraged settlements in the Biogenesis probe.

"The accepted suspensions announced today are consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement, and were arrived at only after hours of intense negotiations between the bargaining parties, the players and their representatives," union head Michael Weiner said. "For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension. We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately ... The union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously.

"The union's members have made it clear that they want a clean game," he added. "They support efforts to discipline players, and harshly, to help ensure an even playing field for all."

A-Rod intimated Friday that New York did not want him to return; Yankees answered Monday with a prepared statement:

"We are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees' role in this matter," the team said. "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."

Baseball's drug agreement says the appeal hearing shall start no later than 20 days after the filing of the grievance and the arbitrator is charged with making a decision 25 days after the hearing starts. However, the schedule can be altered by agreement of management and the union. Weiner says a settlement is possible but not likely.

Players have often succeeded at persuading arbitrators to overturn or shorten drug suspensions. In the era before the drug agreement, LaMarr Hoyt, Ferguson Jenkins, Pascual Perez and Willie Wilson were among those who had success in hearings, and Steve Howe's lifetime ban for a seventh suspension related to drugs or alcohol was cut to 119 days.

Cruz, eligible to return to Texas for the postseason if the Rangers make the playoffs, attributed his action to a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, and said he had lost 40 pounds following the 2011 season.

"I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error," he said in a statement. "I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse."

Peralta can rejoin Detroit for a season-ending three-game series at Miami — not far from the former office of Biogenesis.

In a statement released by the Tigers, Peralta said in "spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret." Peralta apologized to his teammates and "the great fans in Detroit," saying he knows he let "many good people down."

MLB's investigation began last year after San Francisco outfielder and All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera tested positive for elevated testosterone, as did Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. The probe escalated in January when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to Biogenesis.

MLB said Melky Cabrera, Colon and Grandal will not receive additional discipline and it found no violations for Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia, both linked to Biogenesis in media reports.

In June, baseball struck a deal for Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch to cooperate. After holding investigatory interviews with the players, MLB presented evidence to the players' union along with its intended penalties, starting the final round of negotiations.

"Those players who have violated the program have created scrutiny for the vast majority of our players, who play the game the right way," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. "We continue to attack this issue on every front — from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills."


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  • sburks1906 Aug 6, 2013

    I must say as much as I hate A-Roid (I’m a BIG Yankees fan), Bud Selig is getting his just dessert for getting in bed with the PED cheats in the first place. Selig and his owners had to know what was going on the past 15 years or so.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 5, 2013

    I have the impression that MLB and the Commissioner have very solid evidence of what all those guys are alleged to have done... enough to remove the "alleged" term. It appears also that all but A-Rod are not contesting the "charges" and the punishment being imposed... further evidence that they are indeed "guilty". i know that if I were innocent of this type of thing... I'd fight it like a wildcat backed into a corner. It is also my understanding that A-Rod did more than take PEDs... perhaps the most serious allegation being that he has obstructed and interfered with the investigtion. All in all.... I have neither sympathy nor empathy for ANY of those guys. I have reached my own personal "limit" with regard to athletes "behaving badly" at ANY level of play... from the ridiculous antics of high school athletes being recruited and their over the top announcements of where they will play at the collegiate level - not to mention the on field/court antics they copy from the college players and the pros - to the "C*AP" like is going on now with PJ Hairston, "Johnny Football", the NC State player charged with assault on a female, etc., etc., etc. - to the "pros" where both the NFL/NBA seem to have far too many egotistical imbeciles that are predisposed to act like "street t*ugs", and I could go on and on and on. I've reached my limit of all of that and believe that those who do not "play by the rules" and who are NOT good stewards of the game, who do not respect the game that is giving them so very much - simply put should NOT be allowed to play the game - PERIOD!

  • hsiflee Aug 5, 2013

    sorry MLB but your appeal process is as lame as it comes. Drag the appeal out and let he PED abuses continue to play. What a joke! Selig is a !

  • Obamacare rules Aug 5, 2013

    Give A-Roid the death penalty.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Aug 5, 2013

    Ban him for life...he earned it.

  • holmesap Aug 5, 2013

    Needs to be banned for life !

  • iamsiam1096 Aug 5, 2013

    View quoted thread

    So am I understanding you correctly, because he did not roll over and play dead like many of the others who also say they are not guilty his fine is higher? so there is no standard? Either say your guilty and take the fine so the MLB can look like they are doing something or your career is ruined even if you are innocent? (not saying he is guilty or innocent, really don't care, just find this run them into the ground without all the facts attitude annoying). If the MLB really wanted a grip on things such as this they would review the entire way they work from paying players, to training, to doctors. You see the team doc then there is no question. A-Rod is bit of a horses rear, but whether he is guilty or not is hardly proven just because his name is on some list that an upset doc could have changed.

  • alshomes Aug 5, 2013

    They should all be banned from the sport forever. No mercy. This would help prevent it in the future.

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 5, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Because he refused to do his part during the investigation. He didn't cooperate like the rest. He lied and wasn't forcoming with anything. He's just as guilty and as bad as Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones.

  • 426X3 Aug 5, 2013

    How the mighty have fallen. Sooner or later cheaters will get caught.




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