Showing some serious teeth in the battle against performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball's commissioner on Monday handed down a record suspension to New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and benched another dozen players.
A person familiar with the negotiations said all players targeted for drug suspensions other than Rodriguez on Monday accepted 50-game penalties.
After weeks of rumours, backstage developments, plea bargains and accusations, commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014, though "A-Rod" is expected to appeal the decision, which is set to begin Thursday.
Selig said the lengthy suspension was "based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances and ... for attempting to cover-up his violations of the programme by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner's investigation."
The other players include All-Star players Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jhonny Peralta of Detroit and Everth Cabrera of San Diego, who all are among the 12 who accepted penalties on Monday and will not appeal the sanctions.
Others suspended are Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.
Peralta and Cruz will be on the free-agent market over the winter, so getting the suspension behind them was key.
MLB informed the Yankees on Sunday that Rodriguez will be suspended for his links to the Biogenesis of America clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), reports indicated.
The other 12 all worked out deals that will ban them over the remainder of the season, while Rodriguez has said repeatedly that he will exercise his right to appeal. He was expected to play in last night's game.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension two weeks ago, bringing to 14 the number of players including Rodriguez facing discipline in the probe, which was sparked when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from Biogenesis.
Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera's name also appeared in Biogenesis documents, but it was determined that he already served his punishment when he was suspended last year for PEDs that he used and purchased while playing for San Francisco Giants, according to reports.
Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, who was also linked to the probe, escaped suspension. Like Cabrera, he also had served a related drug suspension last year. Bastardo and Valdespin came as surprises, since they had not previously been linked to the investigation.
Rodriguez, on the disabled list all season, was expected to be activated before last night's game, though the Yankees have made it clear they do not want him around. He is a former three-time American League MVP.
Manager Joe Girardi said A-Rod was pencilled into the starting line-up as the Yankees began a three-game series in Chicago on Monday.
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