Rodriguez to appeal record ban

New York Yankees star has been banned for 211 games for alleged doping offences

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees  during last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Photograph: John Gress/Reuters

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees during last night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Photograph: John Gress/Reuters

 

New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has confirmed he intends to “fight this through the process” after appealing against his ban for violations of Major League Baseball’s joint drug prevention and treatment programme and its basic agreement.

Rodriguez, the highest-paid player in baseball, was suspended for 211 games on Monday, starting on Thursday and covering the remainder of this season and all of next.

The Yankees third baseman’s ban stems from an investigation into the now defunct Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Twelve other players involved in the case accepted 50-game bans without appeal, while Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, accepted a 65-game ban last month for his involvement in the scandal.

Rodriguez was given the longest suspension as MLB holds evidence to show that he was not only a customer of Biogenesis, but pointed other players in its direction and then obstructed the league’s investigation.

In a statement, the league said the 38-year-old was being punished for “his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years” and for his attempts to cover up those violations and obstruct a league investigation.

Rodriguez, in the middle of a 10-year $275 million contract with the Yankees, will now be left fighting for his future career and he stressed his determination to strongly defend himself.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the Yankees’ game against the White Sox, he said: “It has been toughest fight of my life. (Not) by any means am I out of the woods. This is probably phase two just starting. It’s not going to get easier — it’s probably going to get harder. But I am humbled and thankful for the support.

“Nothing about it (the drugs investigation) has been easy. All of it has been challenging. I’m sure there’s been mistakes made along the way. We’re here now. I’m a human being. I’ve had two hip surgeries, two knee surgeries... I’m fighting for my life. I have to defend myself — if I don’t defend myself, no-one else will.

“There’s a process. I’m happy there’s a process. In due time, hopefully... whatever happens happens.”

In the meantime, he made his season debut at US Cellular Field last night and is attempting to focus on on-field matters.

“For me it’s going to be business as usual,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do. I have 24 team-mates in there and we have a mission to enter the post-season. Obviously we have challenges ahead of us, but my focus is ‘what can do to help this team win?’

“There’s a lot of baseball to be played. I hope that for one moment with this appeal process we have an opportunity to talk about the greatest game in the world, to take a little bit of a timeout from this and give the fans of baseball an opportunity to focus on all the great stories that are happening in baseball right now.”

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