Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has decided to reduce Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension to 162 regular season games as well as the entire postseason, costing the disgraced Yankees star the majority of his $25 million salary for the 2014 season.
Horowitz’s decision to not uphold the full 211-game ban that came down in August was expected, however the ruling to ban Rodriguez for the entirety of next season remains as the largest performance enhancing drugs-related suspension in baseball history.
In a lengthy statement, Rodriguez stated that he intends to continue to fight the ban by seeking an injunction from a federal court.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. 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.”
“This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.”
“I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court,” he said. “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.”
“No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.”
“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.”
The MLB Players’ Association released a statement saying they disagree with the decision but respect the process.
“The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the Arbitration Panel’s decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez’s unprecedented 211-game suspension. We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.”
Fifteen players in all were suspended for connections to the Biogenesis scandal including Rodriguez. Twelve received 50-game bans, one received 100-games and Ryan Braun was slapped with a 65-game suspension. Rodriguez was the only player to appeal.
ESPN’s Wallace Matthews reports that even though Rodriguez is not allowed to play in 2014, he still plans to attend Spring Training and believes the Yankees can’t stop him from doing so.