“So in the interests of fairness and consistency, the commissioner’s office is going to have to show something fairly outrageous to prevail on appeal,” Professor John G. Culhane
writes in Suspend Your Disbelief
, a column he wrote for Slate
on the recent suspension handed down by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez as a result of the investigation into the Biogenesis wellness clinic.
A-Rod was one of thirteen players suspended by Major League Baseball in the wake of the investigation, which does not include Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun – who accepted a 65-game suspension last month – or fellow players Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal, who have already served 50-game suspensions for their involvement with Biogenesis. Rodriguez, however, received a far larger suspension of 211 games that would keep him out through the 2014 regular season.
In his article, Culhane examines MLB’s justifications for the length of A-Rod’s suspension as well as his chances of reducing it on appeal. As Culhane notes in the article, MLB justified the length of the suspension in a press release as a violation of both the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
According to the MLB release
, “Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone,” and he also violated the Basic Agreement “… attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation.”
In his examination, Culhane touches on A-Rod’s possible avenues to seek a reduced suspension on appeal, however, writing, “First, he can argue that the Basic Agreement between MLB and the union can’t be used to discipline him in this case, because the JDA provides the only acceptable punishment. On the face of it, this argument has some merit.”
The article goes on to examine additional avenues for Rodriguez to argue that the length of the suspension is not supportable and looks at potential arguments that Commissioner Selig can use in defense of the punishment. Professor Culhane thanks both Widener Law Professor Andre Smith
and Jeffery B. Fannell, the deputy director of a graduate program in comparative sports law at St. John’s University, for their expert help in preparing the article.
Read the entire article on Slate
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