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A-Rod handed 211-game ban; eligible pending appeal

Aug 5, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was one of 13 Major League Baseball players who were suspended on Monday for receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a shuttered Miami wellness clinic, the league announced.

Rodriguez received a 211-game punishment from the league, which would be effective on Thursday and last through the end of the 2014 season. He is appealing the ban, the league said, and is eligible to play until an appeals verdict is rendered.

“I’m fighting for my life,” an emotional Rodriguez said at a press conference just after 6 p.m. “I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one will.”

Rodriguez called the last seven months “a nightmare” and refused to admit he used performance enhancing drugs.

The bans to the other players linked with the Biogenesis clinic are effective immediately, which knocks out those players for virtually all of the remaining games this regular season. They would be eligible for the postseason, should their teams reach and the terms of their suspensions end.

“As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.”

MORE: A-Rod’s suspension is crazy and should be reduced

Rodriguez said in a statement on Monday that he planned to fight his suspension through the appeals process.

“I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight,” Rodriguez said. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”

Rodriguez also spoke to the media in a pair of news conferences over the weekend. He declined to discuss the case in details, citing an ongoing investigation, but he seemed to hint that forces were conspiring to keep him from playing.

“There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping on the field,” Rodriguez said Friday night. “It is not my teammates, it is not the Yankees fans. People have been trying to get creative trying to cancel my contract.”

The Yankees took the unusual step of distancing themselves from the league’s investigation of Rodriguez, saying that they agreed with the punishment but did not help the inquiry.

“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,” the team’s statement said.

MLB Players Association head Michael Weiner agreed with the 50-game punishments but took issue with Rodriguez’s suspension, saying that Selig was not acting within his rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and union.

“Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously,” Weiner said.

MORE: MLBPA believes Selig acted improperly

Rodriguez’s attorney David Cornwell, echoed the union’s sentiment.

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action,” Cornwell said in a statement. “Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

The full list of suspended players is: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers; Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres; Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers; Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees; Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners; Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets; Sergio Escalona, Houston Astros; Fautino De Los Santos, San Diego Padres; Cesar Puello, New York Mets; Fernando Martinez, New York Yankees; Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies; Jordan Norberto, free agent.

MORE: Several Biogenesis players are stunningly equally ashamed of themselves

Cruz, who is a free agent after this season, said in a statement that he began using PEDs to recover from illness that caused him to lose 40 lbs before the 2012 season. Concerned that he would not recover quickly enough, he said he began doping.

“Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error,” he said. “I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse.”

A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon, Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal also were connected to the clinic by several reports, but all three were suspended for positive tests over the past year — which reportedly overlaps with MLB’s Biogenesis records — so another suspension would be considered double jeopardy. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game ban last month for his involvement with the clinic.

Selig lauded the success of the league’s drug policy, which succeeded despite only one known positive test: Braun was caught for a PED violation before the 2012 season but won his case on appeal. Players suspended Monday were done so for non-analytical positives, which occur when the league has evidence of a player’s use despite not having a positive test.

In this case, the league received cooperation from Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who agreed to cooperate and share evidence in exchange for the league’s dropping a lawsuit against him, indemnifying him against further damages and paying some, or all, of his legal fees according to ESPN. MLB had no comment about its involvement with Bosch.

MORE: MLB statement on the Biogenesis suspensions

“This case resoundingly illustrates that the strength of our Program is not limited only to testing,” 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.

The allegations against Rodriguez and others were first revealed in late January, when the Miami New Times published a report that connected them to Bosch and his clinic. Bosch reportedly provided a group of MLB players with human growth hormone and steroids as early as December 2011. The New Times story, along with reports by Yahoo! Sports and ESPN, reportedly spurred MLB’s investigation.

“Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do,” Selig said.

Bosch faces a federal inquiry into whether Biogenesis illegally distributed steroids to high school students and major leaguers, according to reports by ESPN and the Miami Herald. Bosch’s lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, has not responded to messages left by NBC Sports.

The matter reportedly is being handled by Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who directed investigations of BALCO, a clinic in the Bay Area that was found to have distributed steroids to athletes.

Rodriguez, 38, is fifth on MLB’s career home run list, with 647 spread over two decades with three teams. Barry Bonds holds the record, with 762, but many fans believe that mark to be illegitimate because of Bonds’ tie to BALCO.

Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids for three years, from 2001-03, while he was a member of the Texas Rangers. His name also appeared on a list of 104 players who tested positive for PEDs in a 2003 MLB survey, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.

The survey, which was confidential, reportedly was done to measure the extent of baseball’s problem with performance-enhancing drugs, not to determine who was actually using them. So Rodriguez’s alleged positive test could not have resulted in punishment.

Rodriguez has yet to play this year after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left hip in January. His recovery efforts stalled in mid-July, when he strained his left quadriceps. Rodriguez claimed he was ready to return. The Yankees said he was not.

Rodriguez sought a second opinion from a New Jersey doctor, who examined an MRI of the slugger’s leg and proclaimed him fit both over the telephone and in a subsequent media blitz. The Yankees were displeased that Rodriguez sought a second opinion without informing them in writing first, according to ESPN.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. fanofevilempire - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    MLB, Bud and Yankees, still don’t know what to do with A-Rod, does anyone
    @ MLB know it is 1:50 pm Monday and nothing on A-Rod yet, must be stalling.
    what happen TJ Quinn and the robots @ espn, nothing still and high noon is gone!

    A-Rod is in Chi-Town by now.

    Exciting!

    • jerseygirl57 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Is this the only comment you know how to make? I’ve seen it on at least 4 different entries by now. How about coming up with an original thought?

      • fanofevilempire - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        ah shut up, it’s true and you keep reading it.
        I thumbed you down idiot!

      • buffal0sportsfan - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        Unlike Yasiel Puig I don’t think thumbs phase him.

  2. scotttheskeptic - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Why are we still dealing with reports from multiple media outlets? Where is the press release from MLB?

  3. dutchman1350 - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    MLB waited until trade deadline was over. Way to screw the legit players, teams and the fans.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Teams knew this would happen. The Tigers prepared for it. You snooze you lose.

  4. dugldo - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    And there goes my fantascy team. Loosing Cruz and Johnny P…

    • El Bravo - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      You already lost if your team hinged on those two.

      • vinnyboborinostein - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        Who is Johnny P.? I know of a Jhonny P. who plays for the 1st place Tigers, who are favored to win the WS, and is batting well over .300. Must be some other player you are referring to.

    • cha1upabatman - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      The need to develop G(rammar)ED’s.

    • natslady - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      NOCAYFT.

      (No One Cares About Your Fantasy Team)

      • nbjays - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        Nice, Natslady! Not as good as ABBOY but good nevertheless. ;-)

    • trollingforjustice - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      that is purely on you…i passed on braun in my draft on the sole purpose he wasnt to be trusted and his past actions made me uncomfortable to want to pick him.
      i opted for miggy instead and i am glad i did

      • cha1upabatman - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        The fact that you even considered taking Braun over Miggy betrays the fact that your fantasy team has no shot at the title. Did you also agonize between Yu Darvish and Ted Lilly?

  5. DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Who is this “nbcsports.com”, and how did he/she/it become a blogger?

    I want a name! Otherwise how are we to vilify when we don’t agree???

    • historiophiliac - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      I wish “They” would call them suspensions instead of bans since they have terminal end dates.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Good point!

      • historiophiliac - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        Huh. I is smart.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:19 PM

        You da’ Wo-Man!

      • sal11 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        Imagine a world where Selig was internet savvy enough to issue a statement that A-Rod was PERMABANNED.

  6. jrbdmb - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Wait a minute … now it’s back to “reportedly?” I thought it was already “confirmed.”

    Will somebody at HBT make up their minds what is fact and what is still conjecture?!?!?

  7. dexterismyhero - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Any american players here? all DR guys it seems.

    • scotttheskeptic - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Braun. Rodriguez. To name 2.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        Montero is Venezuelan.

      • nbjays - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        As is Cervelli.

      • buffal0sportsfan - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Wasn’t Cervelli on the Italian national team?

      • dexterismyhero - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        on this suspension list……

      • kevinbnyc - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        Cervelli was on the Italian WBC team. They’re pretty loose with the term “nationality.”

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      does it matter, you are dumb like jerseygirldouche!

  8. shaggylocks - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Man, New York seem to be getting hit pretty hard here: 3 players from the Yankees and 2 from the Mets. Pressure of playing in the NY fishbowl?

  9. Joe - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    I’m not a fan of “NBCSports.com” posting a news story to this blog. I’d give the entire post a thumbs down if I could. If this is a blog, please keep it a blog.

  10. mvp43 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    If A-Rod said good morning to me, I wouldn’t believe him.

  11. wpjohnson - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    In regard to m
    Rodriguez, we’ve been waiting forever for Bud to either pee or get off the pot. It appears that Bud got flushed away.

  12. skinsfanwill - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    I totally agree. When I read the headline, I said to myself, ” Why the heck would they accept a ban?” You fight the ban whether you are guilty or not. Who just accepts it?

  13. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Watch A-Rod get busted for using a corked bat today.

  14. legendsports124 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Bud Selig once again shows why he is on par with Gary Bettman. I guess TV suits were not happy with those sagging Yankee ratings.

    • kevinbnyc - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      I’m no Selig fan, but at least he’s managed to not have a work stoppage twice in the past decade.

  15. lkwalk - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    screw bud selig. when was the last time that asshat batted 300?

  16. ctony1216 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Why is no one in the media asking how it could be that Nelson Cruz, A-Rod, Peralta, etc., never failed MLB drug tests, and also asking whether there’s a problem with MLB’s testing program?

    If it weren’t for a story in the Miami Times, A-Rod, Cruz and Peralta would be starring in their teams’ pennant races. Supposedly, A-Rod has been using for several years.

    What’s up with MLB’s testing program? … Anyone?

    • herkulease - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      It is a cat and mouse game between drug makers and drug testers.

      If I ask you to come over and look for something that’s out of place in my home, how would you know what it is if you don’t even have the slightest clue.

      You have to know what to look for and then develop a way to look for it reliably with false positives.

      Think back to the Balco scandal. If it wasn’t for a vial of then unknown THG given to the USADA they still would not know what it was. Its something they’ve never seen before.

      I’m sure the USADA will want to get their hands on what Biogenesis has if they haven’t already to see if its something new.

      Now if Biogenesis used some really obvious stuff with known tests then the questions will be flying. Somehow I don’t think MLB will be letting that info leak.

    • whoopteedo - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      CTONY1216 – Ask Lance Armstrong how to pass drug tests. Obviously it CAN be done.

  17. sfm073 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    That’s a lot of Hispanic players. Maybe MLB needs to start looking into the scouts and other people associated with bringing Hispanic players over.

    • atahualpaoxford - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      Or maybe somebody should look at how the only players in today’s list are all of hispanic background…
      Fox Latino News reported that, the percentage of foreign-born players from Latin American countries, on this year’s MLB rosters, was 24.2%.
      Officials of MLB told Fox that, the percentage of players of ” Hispanic background”, that is players of such background but born in the USA included, was 27.1%.
      Are you telling me that the only guys caught were this…??? No players of any other race take performance enhancing drugs…???
      This was the only clinic that supplied them and all the players were hispanic…??? All the others are clean…???
      This is a lot f*ck*ng garbage…

      • skids003 - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        I think you are trying to make something out of something that is not there. That “clinic” is in Miami, which has a high Hispanic population of regular people and ballplayers. Could that possibly be your answer?

  18. imaduffer - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Do you really think ARod gives a shit?

    • whoopteedo - Aug 5, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      Yes, we really think he gives a great big damn. What do you think he’s been saying into all these microphones lately? This will cost him tons of money either way — fighting the protracted legal battle which will expose his conduct exponentially or taking it on the chin …the latter like a man, I might add. All this for trying to Lance-Armstrong his way to greatness versus working a God-given talent. I don’t know that, in the end, they shouldn’t shutter his stats as they did Armstrong’s wins.

  19. blingslade - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Looks like a list of ex Miami Sound Machine band members.

  20. tominma - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    They should expedite the appeals process for ARod. On any other suspension, the appeal would be held within a week!!

    ARod——- of course they Yankees wanna cancel your contract!!! You’re A fraud! Nobody has any idea how many of your stats are PED influenced! When the Yankees signed you, they assumed you weren’t cheating. You cheated THEM! ( You wont miss the money )

  21. jimpt52 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    without these drugs,maybe they would be like rag dolls.
    why not kick them out for life.
    isn’t drugs worse the gambling?
    oh come on.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      isn’t drugs worse the gambling?

      No, no it’s not. As evidenced by the punishment each one receives.

  22. anxovies - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    Is the arbitration hearing going to be televised? Is Judge Judy going to do it?

  23. 06mustang - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Is it just me or all these players from South America? Is this just the culture down there, do anything to get in the MLB and get rich in America?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      No, they’re not. Asked an answered above.

  24. seandeyoung01 - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Forced retirement! LOL!

  25. thegloriousone - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    As a resident of one of the 24 cities whose team will never have a shot at the World Series, this is compelling news.

    Might as well watch the WWF.

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