Source says Alex Rodriguez ready to testify at hearing

Alex Rodriguez looks on during the fifth inning Alex Rodriguez looks on during the fifth inning of a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 1, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to testify when the appeal of his 211-game suspension resumes next week and is expected to say he did not use performance-enhancing drugs during a period being probed by Major League Baseball, a source said Monday.

Rodriguez is ready, the source said, "to take the stand and say he didn't do it."

Under a provision in the collective-bargaining agreement, however, Rodriguez will be required to meet for an interview with MLB investigators before he testifies. The possibility of Rodriguez testifying opens the door for further sanctions if MLB decides he is not being truthful in his pre-interview.

The decision to have Rodriguez testify at the hearing could be determined by the results of his pre-interview.

Representatives for Rodriguez could argue that a player should be able to proclaim his innocence without subjecting himself to additional discipline, but a change in the Basic Agreement would be required for that to occur.

If additional discipline is levied against Rodriguez as a result of the pre-interview, it is possible that the Players Association, which is not commenting on the hearing, could file a grievance on his behalf.

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Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 -- he appealed the suspension and thus was allowed to play -- after MLB concluded its probe into Biogenesis, a former anti-aging clinic in Florida that MLB said supplied PEDs to Rodriguez and other players. MLB said in a statement that he used "numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years."

Attorneys in Rodriguez's camp have said with increasing frequency that he has not used PEDs during the period being probed. Lead attorney Joe Tacopina twice denied the allegation and last week Lanny Davis, who represents the player's legal team, said Rodriguez has never tested positive for illegal substances.

Darren Heitner, a Philadelphia sports and entertainment attorney, said Rodriguez could help himself by testifying but noted that he could be taking a chance.

"If he comes across as genuine and he's able to respond effectively to all the questions Major League Baseball will pepper him with . . . If he can show genuinely that he didn't take any performance-enhancing drugs, it's a huge, huge benefit," Heitner said. "There's certainly a risk involved, a very, very large risk that Alex Rodriguez's testimony will be used against him."

Rodriguez's case is being heard by chief arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who can uphold, overturn or alter the ban.

The hearing is expected to end before Thanksgiving.

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