A-Rod files suit in effort to overturn ban
Third baseman sues MLB, MLBPA after being suspended for 2014 season
Alex Rodriguez, in an attempt to have his suspension for the entire 2014 season overturned, filed suit against both Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association in New York on Monday two days after an independent arbitrator handed down his decision.
Fredric Horowitz, who reduced what had originally been a 211-game suspension levied by MLB to 162 games plus the 2014 postseason, ruled that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, had not only used three banned substances, but twice attempted to thwart MLB's investigation of the Biogenesis scandal that resulted in the suspensions of 14 players in August.
Earlier in the day, Rodriguez's attorneys and the MLBPA had sought to keep parts of the 33-page decision shielded from public view. That was rebuffed by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III. The drama came one day after Anthony Bosch, founder of the now-defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic, claimed during an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes," among other things, that he had personally injected A-Rod with illegal performance-enhancing substances.
On the same program, Commissioner Bud Selig said Rodriguez's actions, including allegedly impeding baseball's investigation into the case, were "beyond comprehension."
In his ruling, Pauley said there is a presumption in federal courts that the public should have access to documents unless there is evidence that the courts were being used to force the disclosure of otherwise confidential information.
"There's no evidence here of any bad faith," Pauley said. "Given the intense public interest in this matter and Commissioner Selig's disclosures ... it's difficult to imagine any portion of this proceeding should be filed under seal."
In his decision, Horowitz noted: "While this length of suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed."
Rodriguez's suit claimed the MLBPA "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 Rodriguez's confidentiality rights.
It's unusual for federal courts to become involved with disputes that involve a collectively bargained contract. Rodriguez's lawyers, however, will contend that MLB violated its agreements with the union, and that the union breached its duty to represent him.
"It is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the Players Association," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. "His claim is completely without merit, and we will aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless charges.
"The Players Association has vigorously defended Mr. Rodriguez's rights throughout the Biogenesis investigation, and indeed throughout his career. Mr. Rodriguez's allegation that the Association has failed to fairly represent him is outrageous, and his gratuitous attacks on our former Executive Director, Michael Weiner, are inexcusable. When all is said and done, I am confident the Players Association will prevail."
In a release issued on Tuesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency endorsed the steps taken in advance of Rodriguez's suspension.
"WADA is content with the process that led to the ruling by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to suspend baseball's Alex Rodriguez for the entire 2014 MLB season following the outcome of the Biogenesis scandal," WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said in the statement. "Since details first came to light one year ago, WADA has backed the MLB's action to fully investigate the claims that were made concerning the now-closed Clinic in Miami.
"WADA supported the actions taken by the MLB in August in suspending 13 players associated with PEDs concerning the Biogenesis Clinic, and the action it has taken since.
"The 'clear and convincing evidence' found by Arbitrator Horowitz in this case proves that non-analytical methods have an increasingly important role to play in uncovering those athletes who have breached anti-doping rules. Sharing information and intelligence is something WADA continues to encourage its own stakeholders to do in order to help protect the rights of the clean athlete.
"The message from this case is clear -- sport no longer relies solely on a positive test to bring those that wish to rob sport of its true values to account. This case proves that the sharing of evidence and intelligence can prove invaluable in keeping sport fair and clean for the vast majority.
"The MLB has approached the matter in a professional manner throughout, and has set a high standard for how investigations should be pursued in anti-doping cases. We look forward to continuing our close relationship with the MLB as we aim to protect the rights of the clean athlete and support doping-free sport."
Horowitz made it clear that he was convinced that Rodriguez did what he was accused of doing.
"Direct evidence of [his] violations was supplied by the testimony of Anthony Bosch and corroborated with excerpts from Bosch's personal composition notebooks, BBMs [Blackberry messages] exchanged between Bosch and Rodriguez, and reasonable inferences drawn from the entire record of evidence," Horowitz wrote. "Contrary to the claim of Rodriguez, the challenges lodged to the credibility of Bosch's testimony do not effectively refute or undermine the findings of JDA violations."
Earlier in the day, MLBPA general counsel David Prouty told the judge the union wanted to redact any portions of the arbitrator's ruling that touched on subjects required to remain confidential under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
"The players' association believes those matters should stay confidential," he told The Associated Press.
Jordan Siev, a lawyer representing Rodriguez, told The AP, "We're perfectly content to file the complaint unredacted."