NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez may have to start serving a suspension as soon as it is announced rather than wait for a grievance to play out.
Major League Baseball may try to suspend A-Rod under its collective bargaining agreement instead of its drug rules, which would eliminate any chance of delaying a penalty until after the case goes to an arbitrator, The Associated Press has learned.
Rodriguez has never been disciplined for a drug offense, and a first offender under baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement is entitled to an automatic stay if the players’ association files a grievance — meaning the penalty is put on hold until after an arbitrator rules.
While use of banned performance-enhancing substances falls under the drug agreement, MLB may argue other alleged violations are punishable under the labor contract, a person familiar with management’s deliberations told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Taking that action would prevent the New York Yankees third baseman from returning to the field, even if he recovers from a quadriceps injury cited by the team as the reason for keeping him on the disabled list.
And merely threatening to use that provision might give MLB leverage to force a deal.
The Yankees expect Rodriguez to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, of attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation, and of not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada.
Four years ago, Rodriguez admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03. He has repeatedly denied using them since.
Baseball has been investigating Rodriguez and other players since a January report in the Miami New Times alleging they received PEDs from Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic on Florida.
It doesn’t look good for A-Rod. According to the New York Daily News, Commissioner Bud Selig is so intent on keeping Rodriguez off the field that he’s prepared to invoke a “preserving the integrity of the game” clause, which would force the player to begin serving his suspension immediately — and would open a Pandora’s Box between the league and the players’ union.
“If they’re going to fight this thing like they claim they’re going to, then it’s going to get very ugly,” Daily News writer Bill Madden told WFAN’s Boomer & Carton on Tuesday.