New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended by Major League Baseball through the 2014 season for violating the league's anti-doping protocols, The New York Times reports.
Pending an appeal, Rodriguez is barred for 211 games, which is the longest ban by the league for a doping violation. Rodriguez, 38, was among 13 players suspended, but the other 12 were only barred for 50 games each. Monday's ruling was the largest single-day drug bust in the history of sports.
In announcing Rodriguez's suspension, which had been expected for several days, the league cited his "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited, performance-enhancing substances" over several years, including the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. Rodriguez had previously admitted to using performance-enhancing substances from 2001-2003 when he was with the Texas Rangers. His ban comes the same day Rodriguez is expected to return to the Yankees' lineup against the Chicago White Sox following hip surgery and a quadricep strain.
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As part of his rehabilitation, Rodriguez had most recently been playing for the Yankees' AA team, the Trenton Thunder. However, he had insisted multiple times that he was ready to play in pinstripes once again and implied on Friday that the Yankees were trying to keep him out of the lineup because of his looming suspension and to void his contract. The Yankees organization later denied any such plans.
The other 12 players suspended — including All-Stars Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers — were banned for 50 games after agreeing not to appeal the suspension. Rodriguez is the only one who will appeal.
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All 13 players were suspended specifically because of the league's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic, a Florida anti-aging clinic, which was the result of a newspaper expose. The head of the clinic cooperated with baseball's investigation and reportedly provided much of the information that led to Monday's suspensions.
"I am proud of the comprehensive nature of our efforts — not only with regard to random testing, groundbreaking blood testing for human Growth Hormone and one of the most significant longitudinal profiling programs in the world, but also our investigative capabilities, which proved vital to the Biogenesis case," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "We conducted a thorough, aggressive investigation guided by facts so that we could justly enforce our rules."
Rodriguez announced Monday that he plans to appeal the suspension, which means he is eligible to play until an arbitrator hears the case. Rodriguez was placed fourth on the lineup for Monday's game — his 2013 season debut for the Yankees. "I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight," he said in a statement. "I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this."
If Rodriguez' suspension is upheld, the Yankees would save a good chunk of change. They still owe him $100 million of his 10-year $275 million deal signed back in 2007 — the richest contract in baseball history.
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