Arbitrator cuts A-Rod suspension to 162 games

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees looks on during the fourth inning of game one of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. (July 7, 2012) (1/11/14)

NEW YORK (AP) - Alex Rodriguez's drug suspension was cut to 162 games from 211 by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, a decision that sidelines the New York Yankees third baseman the entire 2014 season.

Rodriguez also would be sidelined for any postseason games under the decision announced Saturday.

The three-time AL MVP was given the 211-game penalty on Aug. 5 following Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.

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A-Rod was disciplined by Commissioner Bud Selig under both baseball's drug agreement and its labor contract.

The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance saying the discipline was without "just cause"

Horowitz, who became the sport's independent arbitrator in 2012, heard the case over 12 sessions from Sept. 30 until Nov. 20. Technically, he chaired a three-man arbitration panel that included MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and union General Counsel Dave Prouty.

The 38-year-old Rodriguez could challenge the ruling in federal court, but judges rarely overturn arbitrators' decisions.

Despite the ban, baseball's drug rules allow Rodriguez to participate in spring training and play in exhibition games.

Rodriguez released the following statement after the ruling:

"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man's decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB's first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.

I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players' contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."

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