Waiving confidentiality clause was proposed so both sides could publicly discuss case
Alex Rodriguez's pending appeal of his 211-game suspension had a new twist Monday, when one of his lawyers was presented with a letter from Major League Baseball offering to waive a confidentiality clause, an offer that he later rejected.
During an interview on "Today," host Matt Lauer showed attorney Joe Tacopina a letter from MLB offering to waive a clause in the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, which would allow Rodriguez and his lawyers to speak freely in his own defense against the allegations regarding his use of and involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.
Waiving that clause, which Tacopina could have agreed to during the interview by signing the letter, would also give MLB permission to talk publicly about its case against Rodriguez as well as any of his previous violations.
Tacopina turned down the offer later in the day, referring to it as "a trap."
"The letter was a publicity stunt; such a waiver would require [the Players Association] to be party of [sic] the agreement and signatures, nothing but a trap," Tacopina said.
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said, "The Players Association has never stood in the way of an individual player publicly disclosing his own drug testing history. We are more than happy to add a signature line for the MLBPA to my letter."
When MLB suspended Rodriguez on Aug. 5, it cited "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years," as well as "a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."
Tacopina declined to sign the document while on television, saying he hadn't read it, but added he had been requesting such a thing for "three or four weeks."
"We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez regarding this JDA, this joint drug program, nothing more," Tacopina said.
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"Here's what I'm prepared to answer. Alex admitted back in 2001 and 2002 that he had used performance-enhacing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers, when it was not banned. He said since then, he has not. I will tell you this. This letter is nice. I mean, it could have been sent to me last night. I would have been prepared to execute it and we could've talked about the history of things because I have so many things I'd love to say if there was a way."
Tacopina insisted that Rodriguez "shouldn't serve one inning of a suspension, as opposed to 211 games." He also took another jab at the Yankees, accusing their medical staff and general manager Brian Cashman of playing Rodriguez during last year's postseason with an injured left hip.
Tacopina questioned the validity of MLB's evidence against the Yankees third baseman, particularly the credibility of Anthony Bosch, the owner of the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic in South Florida that provided athletes from many sports with performance-enhancing substances.
Tacopina hinted that the case against Rodriguez is not the same as the one levied against the 13 other players suspended after MLB's investigation into Biogenesis.
"It's not the exact same evidence," Tacopina said. "I know the evidence against Alex Rodriguez, and I will tell you this: It will never stand up in a court of law or in an arbitration panel courtroom. Never. Because the evidence is based on one person, Anthony Bosch. Anthony Bosch, who the MLB made a deal with."
While Lauer presented Tacopina with the letter from MLB, A-Rod's attorney gave the show what he said was an MRI of Rodriguez taken on Oct. 11, 2012, before the American League Championship Series between New York and Detroit. Rodriguez went 1-for-9 with three strikeouts and was benched by manager Joe Girardi during that series.
"What [the MRI] indicated, what it showed was Alex Rodriguez had a hole in his left hip, a torn labrum. He went on to play the Detroit series, obviously didn't play well, was benched, was made a scapegoat," Tacopina said. "Nobody told Alex Rodriguez that he had a hole in his left hip. Nobody. It wasn't until after the season was done that he went to a doctor."
Cashman said on Sunday that Rodriguez complained about his right hip -- the one that had been surgically repaired in 2009 -- and that an an MRI was not performed on his left hip last October.
When asked by Lauer why the Yankees would withhold the nature of Rodriguez's injury, Tacopina said he didn't understand the motivation, "unless they wanted to make him a scapegoat."
Rodriguez confirmed early on Monday that his legal team is in the process of filing a grievance against the Yankees for allegedly mishandling his medical treatment. Rodriguez said his lawyers contacted the Major League Baseball Players Association earlier this month to begin the process.
Lauer also questioned Tacopina regarding a report that Rodriguez helped pay Bosch's legal fees. According to an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report published Sunday night, Rodriguez paid a $25,000 retainer to Bosch's attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, and later made a wire transfer for nearly $50,000 that Bosch's attorney declined to accept.
One of Rodriguez's former attorneys described that second transfer to ESPN as a mistake and as part of MLB's evidence that Rodriguez tried to obstruct its investigation.
Ribero-Ayala said in a statement to ESPN that Rodriguez paid her $25,000 to defend Bosch in February. The second transfer, according to a statement, was "immediately returned" and "Mr. Rodriquez (sic) does not have any involvement in Mr. Bosch's legal representation."
Why would Rodriguez contribute to the legal defense of someone whose credibility his own lawyers are now attacking?
"There's another question that, because of the confidentiality clause in the JDA, I'm not prepared to answer," Tacopina said. "This is a great letter. I wish I had this letter.
"There was a relationship [between Rodriguez and Bosch], obviously, but these facts will be answered at an appellate process hearing. We are not going to circumvent this process. There is a process in place. We respect the appeal process."