A-Rod sues MLB, claims ‘witch hunt’
Alex Rodriguez has filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, accusing it of orchestrating a “witch hunt” to push him out of baseball.
The suit by Rodriguez — who faces a 211-game suspension for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and violation of the Basic Agreement — alleges that MLB paid Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch $5 million in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against Rodriguez. Biogenesis, a since-closed anti-aging clinic, allegedly dispensed performance-enhancing drugs.
The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in New York State Supreme Court, comes in the midst of Rodriguez’s appeal of his suspension for his alleged connection to Biogenesis. As part of baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis, 13 players were suspended. None of the other players received as lengthy a ban as Rodriguez.
In a separate legal action Friday, Rodriguez filed a lawsuit in the Bronx against Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, alleging that they misdiagnosed his hip injury in 2012.
A spokeswoman said the hospital was unaware of the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.
The Yankees, who are not named in the lawsuit, did not return messages seeking comment.
“The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters.”
The lawsuit against MLB says commissioner Bud Selig and MLB officials have “been engaged in tortious and egregious conduct with one, and only one, goal: to improperly marshal evidence that they hope to use to destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez.”
The lawsuit is particularly critical of Selig, who is named as a defendant, calling his tenure as commissioner “scandal-ridden.” It cites the 1994 strike and rise of PED use in the game under his watch.
MLB leaked confidential information about Rodriguez and its investigation into Biogenesis, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit highlights Selig’s July appearance on David Letterman’s show in which he answered questions about the status of the investigation and Rodriguez’s future.
In response, the MLB issued a statement saying the lawsuit is a “desperate attempt” to sidestep Rodriguez’s violation of the sport’s drug agreement.
“While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint,” MLB said, “none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances … and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover up his violations.
“This lawsuit is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using PEDs from 2001-03 while a member of the Texas Rangers. There was no PED agreement in place during those years and Rodriguez was not disciplined. The lawsuit makes no reference to his previous steroid admission.
The complaint alleges a transaction in which an MLB investigator paid $150,000 for records that could implicate Rodriguez. Some of the cash “was handed off in a bag at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area restaurant,” according to the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for Bosch, who has been testifying this week in Rodriguez’s appeal, denied the allegation.
“The allegation that Tony Bosch was paid for his testimony is ridiculous and untrue,” Bosch spokeswoman Joyce Fitzpatrick said. “He hasn’t received $5, let alone $5 million.”
The lawsuit contends that MLB engaged in “tortious interference” that affected Rodriguez’s contract and business ventures. Rodriguez is owed $86 million during the final four years of the 10-year, $275-million contract he signed with the Yankees before the 2008 season. He also can make an additional $30 million in bonuses based on home run milestones.
The lawsuit against Major League Baseball seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The Yankees are not named in the suit.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, which is handling the suspension appeal along with Rodriguez’s personal attorneys, said it remains focused on Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing.
“The Union will continue to work closely with Alex Rodriguez and his legal team to defend his rights and the rights of all Union members,” the MLBPA statement said.
The suit against the Yankees’ team doctor alleges the doctor and his staff did not notify Rodriguez of a tear in his left hip and allowed him to play in the 2012 playoffs. By playing, it said, it caused Rodriguez to “further injure himself,” which caused the need “for additional surgeries.”
After recovering from offseason hip surgery, Rodriguez returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Aug. 5 — the same day MLB announced the ban. Rodriguez appealed the decision and hit .244 with a .348 on-base percentage and seven home runs in 44 games.
The first week of Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing concluded Friday at MLB’s headquarters in Manhattan. Bosch concluded nearly four days of testimony with a final cross-examination by Rodriguez’s attorneys. “It went well,” Fitzpatrick said. The hearing is expected to resume the week of Oct. 14. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will have 25 days from the conclusion of the hearing to uphold, overturn or alter the suspension.