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Does Alex Rodriguez

Deserve A Lifetime Ban?

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New York Yankees infielder, Alex Rodriguez. Image courtesy MLB. Background image by Mike Licht, and used under a Creative Commons License.
With The Ryan Braun Scandal Clearly In Selig’s Rear-View Window, The Commish Will Be Forced To Deal With The Fact That A 14-Time All-Star Continued To Use PEDs

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By Wayne Schutsky

Modern Times Magazine

July 26, 2013 — After the baseball community had a chance to digest the Ryan Braun suspension and its ramifications, it immediately began speculating about Alex Rodriguez and the length of his impending punishment. Will the Yankees slugger receive a 65 game suspension a la Braun, or face something much more severe?

As of now, all signs are pointing to A-Rod becoming the next Pete Rose.

Major League Baseball players who test positively for steroid use face a 50 game suspension for a first offense, a 100 game suspension for a second offense, and a lifetime ban for a third offense.

Braun met with Major League Baseball and accepted a suspension that will last until the end of this season, or 65 games. The first 50 games of the ban are associated with a his first positive test connected to the Biogenisis scandal (he previously successfully contested a failed test in 2011), and MLB doled out the last 15 games as punishment for Braun’s actions during that previous contested failed test, according to ESPN.

Thus far, Alex Rodriguez has no publicly-known failed drug tests under the current drug policy in MLB. So, if the Biogenisis scandal that implicated Braun also implicate Rodriguez, it seems on the surface that he should serve a 50 game suspension.

However, there are a few mitigating circumstances that may affect Rodriguez’ future in baseball.

First, Rodriguez has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs while playing with the Texas Rangers in 2003. He tested positive as part of a random test administered by MLB to determine if a PED policy was needed, according to ESPN. While this test took place prior to the creation of the current policy, the fact that he has a track record of use is not going to win him any favors with MLB.

Second, Commisioner Bud Selig needs a sacrificial lamb to help MLB save face in the wake of this scandal. He has staked his legacy on his ability to eradicate PEDs from the game. The PED scandal initially marred his tenure, but, barring this latest setback, had made great strides in recent years through the Mitchell Report and this new, stronger drug policy.

Braun is a young star but, while successful, not nearly as high-profile as Alex Rodriguez. While Braun won the MVP in 2011, he has considerably less name-recognition than A-Rod (three MVPs, one World Series, 14 All Star Games). Additionally, Braun is still a key cog going forward for the Brewers, a team Selig used to own and has a soft spot for.

Additionally, Selig has a penchant for holding a grudge. Just look at Rose. It was all but assumed that the current commissioner would reinstate Rose into MLB when he finally admitted to betting on the game. But that did not happen.

And Rose did not even bet against his own team.

Now, Rodriguez, a player who has already tested positive for PEDs, has made a mockery of everything Selig built all the while collecting one of the largest contracts in MLB history. He has a target on his back.

But how could Selig justify such a harsh ban for someone who is technically a first-time offender? A lot of that could come down to the Biogenesis documents and the testimony of owner Anthony Bosch. If MLB baseball can prove that Rodriguez used PEDs on multiple occasions (which it is likely they can), they may be able to justify a lifetime ban.

In the past, a player facing such circumstantial evidence could expect a vigorous defense on his behalf by the player’s association. However, as Braun’s case showed, the players’ association is increasingly unwilling to defend players with a history of PED abuse. This is due, in part, to the public comments made by many current major leaguers disparaging PED users and calling for punishment.

So, between Bud Selig’s vendetta and the MLBPA’s unwillingness to defend him, Rodriguez may have to face up to the fact that he will be banned from Major League Baseball for life.

One group of folks who are hoping for this verdict has to be the New York Yankees. If Rodriguez’ contract is void due to a ban, the team will save upwards of $80 million over the next three years.

When MLB releases all of the names and punishments associated with Biogenesis in the upcoming months, more than a few stars will fall, but none harder than Alex Rodriguez.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at wschutsky@moderntimesmagazine.com.
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