Major League Baseball asked Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer to allow the release of evidence that led to the three-time Most Valuable Player’s 211-game drug suspension.
MLB released a letter yesterday from Executive Vice President of Economics and League Affairs Rob Manfred addressed to Joseph Tacopina, the lawyer for the New York Yankees’ third baseman, asking him to waive confidentiality provisions in the sport’s joint drug agreement. That would allow the disclosure of information and documents regarding Rodriguez’s drug-testing history, test results and evidence regarding his use of banned substances, Manfred said.
Rodriguez is playing as he appeals the suspension, the longest performance-enhancing drug ban in baseball history. He has acknowledged taking performance-enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003, and denied any use after that.
Tacopina said yesterday in a statement that he couldn’t sign the proposal from Manfred without the MLB players union being a party. He said Manfred’s letter was never delivered to his office, and called it a “cheap publicity stunt.”
“It’s nothing but a theatrical trap hoping I would sign, knowing that I couldn’t, and in fact, would have me breaching the JDA agreement if I did,” Tacopina said in the e-mailed statement.
Both Manfred’s letter and Tacopina’s letter accused the other side of already breaching the confidentiality provisions.
Tacopina said on NBC’s “Today” show that he would “love nothing more” than to talk about some details of the case that he isn’t allowed to disclose, including Rodriguez’s testing history and the scientific evidence. When told of the letter on the air, he declined to say whether he would accept Manfred’s proposal.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said when he announced the discipline on Aug. 5 that Rodriguez used testosterone and human growth hormone over “multiple years” and tried to “obstruct and frustrate” baseball’s investigation. Manfred’s letter makes specific reference to releasing evidence regarding the 14-time All-Star’s attempts to interfere with investigators.
The letter also mentions evidence of Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch, founder of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida, at the center of the case, and Victor Conte, who was sentenced to four months jail time in 2005 after pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute steroids.
Rodriguez is in the sixth season of a 10-year, $275 million contract, the largest in baseball. He was activated from the disabled list the day the suspension was announced and has hit .319 with two home runs in 12 games this season.
Tacopina also said on NBC that the evidence against Rodriguez wouldn’t be enough to uphold the suspension in arbitration. The appeal isn’t expected to conclude until after the season.
“I know the evidence against Alex Rodriguez and I will tell you this: It will never stand up in a court of law or an arbitration panel court room,” he said. “Never.”