MLB Biogenesis scandal: Suspensions may not be bound by JDA norms

Patrick McDermott

MLB union head Michael Weiner said Tuesday that the pending suspensions of the players tied to Biogenesis could be anywhere from 5 to 500 games because they didn't stem from a positive test.

Because the Biogenesis scandal hasn't taken enough weird turns over the last six months, it decided to take a hard left turn into unknown territory on Tuesday. MLB Players Association director Michael Weiner spoke to the media before the All-Star Game Tuesday afternoon, explaining that the pending suspensions of MLB players tied to the PED clinic are not bound to the normal three-strike, 50-100-life punishment scheme because they don't stem from positive drug tests, reports Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

More Biogenesis: MLB Must Tread Carefully

Weiner indicated that, in theory, the players in question "could be suspended for 5 games or 500," per Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, seemingly because of the ambiguity involved in the Joint Drug Agreement's terms on how to deal with players who have not failed a drug test. Section 7.A of the JDA lays out the three-strike punishment scheme for players who have either tested positive or found to be in possession of PEDs, leaving a big gray area in the "we-found-your-name-in-a-notebook" region. Why this very important point hasn't come up before is unclear.

Just what this all means for Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and company is really anyone's guess at this point, but it certainly does not appear to be good news. When asked about the investigation during his time with the media on Tuesday, commissioner Bud Selig would say only that the investigation is "thorough, it's comprehensive and it's aggressive," and that the league was not responsible for the persistent leaks -- which really gives us no clue other than that suspensions are definitely coming.

Once the league has finished its interview process with the implicated players, they will attempt to negotiate the length of the pending suspensions with the union. If the two sides are able to come to an agreement on the punishments, then Weiner believes that players could start serving them out this season. If they cannot, however, then it's unlikely anyone will be sidelined this year because of the appeals process.

Weiner added the union does not want the league to announce the suspensions before they've had a chance to go through the appeals process -- which could happen as early as September -- but MLB seems to be leaning towards announcing the punishments as soon as they can. Under normal circumstances, the league would not be allowed to announce any players implicated in PED suspensions until after an appeal had been heard, but this case appears to be different. According to Scott Miller of CBS Sports, there is a clause in the JDA that says the suspension can be announced if the names in question have already been leaked (NB: I could not find this clause when looking over the JDA).

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