Alex Rodriguez has received a record 162-game doping suspension by an arbitrator. The arbitrator banned the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball for the entire 2014 season and playoffs. The New York Yankees third baseman, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, was initially given a 211-game ban last August by the Major League Baseball.
The ruling by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz means Rodriguez will be losing more than $22m (£13m) for the games he is missing. The 38-year-old vowed to appeal the ban to a US federal court. Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, received a harsher punishment in comparison to 12 other players who received a ban of 50 games each for their involvement in Biogenesis doping scandal. It is believed that Alex Rodriguez received the stiffer punishment as evidence suggested he tried to impede a probe into the matter. Rodriguez's decision to challenge the decision in a federal court is despite the players' union and Major League Baseball saying the arbitration decision was the final word on the matter under the terms of their labor deal.
Rodriguez said he had been clear that he did not use performance enhancing substances or violate the basic agreement or the joint drug agreement in any manner and in order to prove it he will take this fight to federal court. Rodriguez added he is confident that when a federal judge reviews the entirety of the record 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. Rodriguez added that no player should have to go through what he have been dealing with and he is exhausting all options to ensure not only that he gets justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining.
In a statement, Major League Baseball defended the process and its original ban. It remarked the arbitration process for more than five decades under the basic agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights. It added that while it believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.
A-Rod will still face the longest ban in the history of Major League Baseball for doping despite the reduction in total games missed. He is also the highest-profile baseball player ever banned.
The star player will lose $25 million in salary from the Yankees this year, or about $154,000 for every game missed. His 654 career homers are 108 shy of Barry Bonds' all-time record. The ban however does not explicitly deny Alex Rodriguez from being able to attend the Yankees' pre-season training camp next month in Tampa, Florida. Rodriguez said he will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship.
In 2009, Alex Rodriguez admitted that he had taken anabolic steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003. The slugger from New York Yankees would be 39 when he returns to play for Major League Baseball in 2015.