Alex Rodriguez, who once appeared on his way to breaking baseball’s all-time home run record, is all but assured of a Biogenesis-related MLB ban being levied against him — quite possibly more than the usual 50 games for first-time offenders — people familiar with the case say.
Rodriguez is expected to be one of up to 15 or so players to receive suspensions by MLB when they are announced, possibly within a couple weeks.
Ron Berkowitz, Rodriguez’s publicist, declined comment on the investigation.
Rodriguez declined to answer the questions of MLB investigators when they interviewed him, sources told CBSSports.com, as did perhaps most of the other players linked to the PED case. The players union believes baseball’s Jenkins Rule allows players not to answer MLB investigators’ questions, and players are being advised that their answers could be used against them in a possible appeals process or additional legal matter.
A-Rod, Brewers star Ryan Braun — who was suspended for PED use for the rest of the season Monday — and most other players involved publicly denied they received performance-enhancing drugs from now-defunct Biogenesis or its proprietor, Tony Bosch, who became a witness for MLB in the case.
Any Biogenesis-related suspension based on so-called “non-analytic positives” (not triggered by a positive test) is subject to appeal — though the likelihood now is that suspension announcements would be made before any appeals. Players union chief Michael Weiner told the New York Daily News, speaking generally and not necessarily about A-Rod, that appeals aren’t necessarily automatic, explaining that in cases where the evidence is overwhelming the player might simply accept a suspension.
Weiner also suggested appeals could possibly go into next year.
Rodriguez had targeted Monday for his return to play for the Yankees, but an MRI revealed a Grade 1 left quad strain, setting him back. By rule, he must sit for five days before beginning a new rehab assignment, though there’s no guarantee he’ll be back then.
“I don’t think he’s going to beat the suspension back to the field,” one person connected to Rodriguez said.
Even if A-Rod is on the disabled list because of his quad injury or any other reason, that doesn’t inoculate him from suspension. Starting in spring training, MLB has been investigating the players identified in the Miami New Times report about Biogenesis.
MLB has extensively interviewed Bosch. His credibility will be at issue since he will be claiming to be a drug dealer after publicly telling ESPN he wasn’t one, player sources said. But word from people familiar with the case suggests that Bosch’s testimony is merely the beginning of the evidence.
“MLB has receipts, checks, the whole nine yards,” a person with ties to the players said.
“He’s looking at a lengthy suspension,” another player-connected source said about A-Rod.
Sources who have spoken to Rodriguez say the Yankees third baseman is expecting a suspension, though he hasn’t said that publicly.
MLB people declined to comment, except to say its investigators are going where the evidence takes them.
MLB appears to be readying bans which likely will be based on the drug-test failure standard:
Article 7A of the Joint Drug Agreement suggests the 50/100/life standards can be used for test failures or players who “otherwise violated the program.”
However, Weiner and the players could try to negotiate penalties down, as he suggested in his All-Star Game talk. Players’ lawyers say there is no fixed 50/100/life schedule that applies, based on the “just cause” section of the same agreement — though MLB powers are unlikely to agree.
Some players could receive multiple suspensions at once, as long as MLB believes it can prove separate violations, as ESPN.com first reported. So MLB could possibly try to suspend a player 150 games if it determines there are two violations (one for 50, one for 100), or even rule a lifetime ban if there are determined to be three or more infractions — though that might be a…