UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Alex Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball and its players’ union Monday, seeking to overturn a season-long suspension after a ruling by an arbitrator on Saturday. As part of the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Rodriguez made public Saturday’s 33-page decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
“While this length of suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed,” Horowitz wrote in his decision Saturday, adding that there was “clear and convincing evidence” the New York Yankees third baseman used three banned substances and twice tried to obstruct the sport’s drug investigation.
Rodriguez in his suit claimed the Major League Baseball Players Association “completely abdicated its responsibility to Mr. Rodriguez to protect his rights” and “this inaction by MLBPA created a climate in which MLB felt free to trample” on his confidentiality rights.
Rodriguez asked for the court to find MLB violated its agreements with the union, that the union breached its duty to represent him, and to throw out Horowitz’s decision.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, has been suspended for the entire 2014 season after an arbitrator’s ruling Saturday. The 162-game suspension is the longest ban for drug use in major league history.
“I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline,” Rodriguez said in a statement, “and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court.”
Rodriguez had appealed Major League Baseball’s original 211-game suspension, issued by Commissioner Bud Selig last summer, which allowed him to play out the 2013 season and gain the backing of the Major League Baseball Players Association, but the support of the players’ union seems to be waning. Although the MLBPA disagreed with Saturday’s ruling, it said in a statement, “We respect the collectively bargained arbitration process which led to the decision.”
The independent arbitrator was an agreed-upon process between the players union and Major League Baseball (MLB) in an effort to avoid a lengthy court battle. But lawyers for Rodriguez are currently seeking an injunction in federal court to the ruling, which would enable the 14-time All-Star to continue to play until the courts decide the case.
Rodriguez, who is baseball’s highest-paid player, thanks to a 10-year $275 million contract he signed with the Yankees in 2007, has spent parts of the last six seasons on the disabled list and will be 39 years old when he is eligible to return to the field in 2015.
Five years ago Rodriguez admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003, but he has denied using any PEDs since. In October, Rodriguez sued MLB and Commissioner Selig, claiming MLB was engaged in a “witch hunt” against him and that its evidence was “false and wholly unreliable.” Although he has never tested positive for banned substances, Rodriguez was one of 14 players implicated for PED use after an investigation of Biogenesis, a Florida anti-aging clinic.
While MLB has not released its evidence against Rodriguez, one of its chief witnesses, Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday, accusing Rodriguez of using banned substances. Bosch said Rodriguez came to him for steroids in 2010 because he was driven to become the first player in major league history to hit 800 home runs. Bosch added that he has 500 text messages between him and Rodriguez that prove the player’s PED use.
Rodriguez has called Bosch a “criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors.”