Arbitrator: A-Rod ban based on evidence presented

Alex Rodriguez looks on from the dugout during Alex Rodriguez looks on from the dugout during the third inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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The arbitrator who benched Alex Rodriguez for the 2014 Major League Baseball season said evidence laid out for him -- including testimony from the owner of a Miami anti-aging clinic -- proved the Yankees third baseman used performance-enhancing drugs and violated the league's anti-doping policy.

Rodriguez responded to the 34-page decision Monday by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. The lawsuit seeks to overturn the decision by Fredric R. Horowitz, chair of the MLB arbitration panel.

In his Saturday decision, which was attached to Rodriguez's lawsuit, Horowitz concluded there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Rodriguez violated MLB's drug policy and tried to thwart its investigation into Biogenesis, the now-closed clinic run by star witness Anthony Bosch.

Horowitz wrote that the evidence "establishes Rodriguez committed multiple violations of the (Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program) and (collective bargaining agreement) warranting a substantial disciplinary penalty."

The decision upheld MLB's decision last August by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to sideline Rodriguez, but shaved off49 games of the 211-game suspension, limiting his expulsion to 162 games, plus any potential postseason games.

"While the length of this suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed," Horowitz wrote.

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Rodriguez, who stands to lose $25 million plus incentives, accused MLB and the players union of acting in "bad faith," in his lawsuit.

Horowitz's decision was based mainly on the testimony, notes and electronic exchanges of Bosch, who said he distributed -- and even injected -- a number of performance-enhancing drugs to players through Biogenesis.

The arbitrator acknowledged that Rodriguez never tested positive for any of the drugs he is accused of using, having passed as many as 12 tests from October 2010 to August 2013.

Bosch claimed to have visited Rodriguez in his hotel rooms when the Yankees were on the road and in his Manhattan apartment, providing doses of various cocktails to improve Rodriguez's on-field performance. He had also advised Rodriguez how to take the substances on his own.

Horowitz found Bosch's claims that he invented a protocol for Rodriguez -- and coached him how to avoid detection by MLB's drug tests -- to be "direct and credible and squarely corroborated."

Bosch had also said he exchanged hundreds of BlackBerry and text messages with Rodriguez that suggested that A-Rod relied on Bosch's concoctions for up to three years.

The substances include testosterone, human growth hormone and other banned substances and Bosch directed that they be taken orally as pills or sublingual, intravenously via hypodermic needles and through the skin, in the form of creams.

Horowitz wrote that the two men had devised a system of "code words" to avoid detection in their communication.

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"The BlackBerry messages between Bosch and Rodriguez are replete with references to their code names for numerous banned substances," Horowitz wrote.

"Gummies" were doses of testosterone. "Pink food" or "Pink cream" was a testosterone cream. "Cojete" or "Rocket" was a syringe containing human growth hormone.

Horowitz also said that Bosch had maintained a set of composition notebooks that detailed his administration of drugs to several players, including Rodriguez. That was among the most damning pieces of evidence.

"The testimony under oath from Bosch about (Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program) violations by Rodriguez was direct and credible and squarely corroborated by excerpts from the several hundreds of pages of his personal composition notebooks," Horowitz wrote.

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