New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez dropped a lawsuit challenging his full-season suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, signaling his possible acceptance of the punishment as his team prepares to begin spring training next week.
Rodriguez, 38, filed papers in Manhattan federal court yesterday dismissing his suit against Major League Baseball, which he brought last month after an arbitrators found he “committed multiple violations” of MLB’s drug policy. He also dropped an earlier suit against MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig claiming their probe of him used abusive tactics and amounted to a “witch hunt.”
“We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League players,” the league said in a statement. “We share that desire.”
The suspension will keep Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, off the field until the 2015 season, during which he will turn 40.
Rodriguez will lose his entire $25 million salary for the 2014 season. The suspension may also derail his chances to collect most the of the remaining $30 million in bonuses included in his contract for his pursuit of Barry Bonds’s career record of 762 home runs.
Joseph Tacopina, Rodriguez’s lawyer, confirmed his client is dropping the two suits. Tacopina declined to comment further.
“Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit,” the Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement. “His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
The two sets of court papers had a single sentence that Rodriguez is dropping the suits. They didn’t give a reason or admit that Rodriguez used banned substances.
Rodriguez was facing an uphill legal battle, according to Paul Haagen, a professor of sports and contract law at Duke University School of Law. Haagen said last month that it is rare for courts to overturn arbitration decisions.
Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star, was initially suspended in August after Selig said he used testosterone and human growth hormone over multiple years and tried to obstruct the league’s investigation of Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. Rodriguez received banned substances from Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis, according to MLB.
Rodriguez’s January lawsuit accused MLB of using a biased arbitrator to hear his challenge to the suspension. He claimed the player’s union failed to protect his rights under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
In his 2013 lawsuit, Rodriguez claimed MLB and Selig tried to ruin his career and reputation in its probe of the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He said MLB investigators paid off and threatened witnesses, bought stolen documents and leaked confidential information to the press.
Rodriguez said MLB investigators impersonated law enforcement officers to get evidence. In one case, the player claimed, an investigator began a sexual relationship with a potential witness after an interview.
Testimony from Bosch, who became the chief witness for MLB after it agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against him, was “direct, credible and squarely corroborated” by personal notes he took at the time of the doping and from other sources, the arbitrators said last month.
Rodriguez has admitted using banned substances from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers. He denied using performance-enhancing drugs since joining the Yankees in 2004.
Rodriguez has been slowed by injuries in recent years. Last season, he hit .244 with seven home runs in 44 games. He hasn’t hit more than 18 home runs in the past three years, according to baseball-reference.com.
The case is Rodriguez v. Major League Baseball, 14-cv-00244; Rodriguez v. Major League Baseball, 13-cv-07097, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).