COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig knows there's a perception that the 211-game suspension handed to Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has a personal element to it. Selig also knows there's nothing he can do about that.
"That's part of my job and part of my life, I guess," Selig said as the quarterly Owners Meetings concluded on Thursday. "I have to say I'm very comfortable with what our people have done. Very comfortable.
"I can't control what other people say and do. I have a job to do, and the job is to protect the integrity of the sport and enforce our program, and that's what I'm going to do. It's no more involved than that, and that's exactly what it is."
In the wake of MLB's investigation into the South Florida Biogenesis clinic, 12 other players, including Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, accepted 50-game suspensions. A 14th, Brewers star Ryan Braun, was suspended for the rest of the season, which amounts to 65 games, in addition to any potential postseason contests. Rodriguez was given the harshest punishment, reportedly because MLB believes he not only used performance-enhancing substances but also recruited other players to do so and attempted to obstruct the investigation. Rodriguez continues to play while his case is being appealed, with a decision from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz not expected until the offseason.
Selig said he believes the proper penalty was levied.
"I spent many, many hours thinking about it, trying to be fair, trying to be logical and rational," Selig said. "I wouldn't second-guess it at all. I know why I did it and what I did. I thought it was eminently fair then, and I think it's eminently fair today.
"I said this at the All-Star Game: We're proud that we have the toughest drug testing in all of American sport. Proud that WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] -- I keep going back to WADA's statement, because they are the gold standard. And when they tell you we're doing great, that makes me feel very good. But to have an effective program, it has to be enforced aggressively -- and should be.
"So the public role in this thing is what it is. I accept that, and I have no concerns about it. There are times when you wish it would not be this way, but that's just the way life works out.
"When I think back, and I told the clubs this today, we went all those years without a drug-testing program. We went through the cocaine era in the '80s, which I've replayed in my mind a thousand times, and to be where we are today, I think, is remarkable. We made a commitment, and I made a commitment to a lot of people and a lot of entities, that we would do everything we can to clean up this sport. We have, we will and we will continue to do so."
Selig has announced that he'll retire at the end of next season, and he made it clear that this is one of the issues he'd like tied up before he retires.
"There are a number of things I really want to do before I'm done," Selig said. "[Having a strict drug policy] is absolutely part of it. We have some internal disputes we're going to clean up. Almost to a fault, I put a historical perspective on everything, and I want to at least, from my own understanding, clear up as many of these things as I possibly can.
"We've done everything we said we were going to do and more. If there's one thing I've learned in 20 years on this job, it's that you decide what you have to do and what's the right thing to do for the sport, and then you just go and do it. And that's the only thing that should ever influence my thinking.
"All this business about personal likes and dislikes is just nonsense. You do what you think is in the best interest of the sport, based on the evidence that you have."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.