MLBPA director talks Alex Rodriguez suspension, possible changes to drug program


Union director Michael Weiner plans to provide Alex Rodriguez with a "strong defense" in his appeal against the league, and believes that a 211-game suspension will be difficult to uphold "when all the evidence is out."

MLB Players Association director Michael Weiner spoke out about Alex Rodriguez's PED suspension Tuesday morning in an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM MLB Radio. Among many other things, Weiner stated his belief that the league will have great difficulty getting its long-term suspension of A-Rod to stand, and that the union plans on putting together "a heck of a case" to defend the Yankees' third baseman:

"There's a lot of difference between treating [what Alex did] as a first offense and giving 211 games. Ryan Braun settled on more than 50 games, acknowledging that it was worth more than a traditional first offense in our program...

"It's going to be, in my mind, very difficult for the commissioner to prove that 211 games is appropriate when all the evidence is out...

"Alex deserves a defense, he's going to get a strong defense. He's got excellent lawyers for him both at the Players Association and his own lawyers, and they're getting ready to put on a heck of a case."

Rodriguez, along with 12 other players, was handed a suspension Monday for his connections to the now-defunct Florida PED clinic, Biogenesis. While the dozen others accepted their 50-game punishments, Rodriguez has opted to appeal his 211-game suspension, which would sideline him through the end of the 2014 season.

Weiner added that the league could make the case that A-Rod's transgressions are unprecedented -- and therefore deserving of an unprecedented punishment -- but he believes that Braun and others have set a precedent for Rodriguez, and a suspension of over 200 games is not it.

Speaking to Dan Patrick in a subsequent radio interview, Weiner had much more pointed words about the suspension:

"On the one hand, [Bud Selig] could have been much more unfair than he was... by passing out [a suspension] that lasted for a year and 50 games.

"On the other hand, what he did, frankly, we feel was inappropriate and almost ridiculous."

Weiner expressed understanding at Rodriguez's frustration towards the league and the Yankees, but felt that the comments he made over the weekend about the club were "not productive." Weiner then came to A-Rod's defense when touching on Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes' comments about his union dues going towards A-Rod's appeal, stating: "I would say to Jonny we have to have tough penalties, but we have to have a fair system, and part of a fair system is the automatic stay ... Alex deserves the same rights as everyone else."

Weiner also spoke on the possibility of making changes to the Joint Drug Treatment Program, iterating that the union and the league (read: owners) are currently "apart" on stiffer penalties for players, but that the topic will certainly be discussed in the offseason. Weiner added that the best deterrent for players is not just a more long-term punishment, but making it easier to get caught. He stated many players are in favor of much stiffer penalties, and that it will ultimately come down to negotiations with ownership:

"Largely because of Biogenesis, an awful lot of players have come around to the view -- and they have been way ahead of the owners on this, way ahead of the owners on this -- that we should have tougher penalties. In the end, it's not going to be my attitude that's important on this, what's going to be important is the players' attitude.

"I'm sure we're going to get a consensus and then go and negotiate with the owners."

Finally, Weiner expressed concern about the prevalence of PEDs in the Dominican Summer League, saying that the union planned to "get to the bottom" of the issue.

Whether Weiner will be involved when these negotiations and investigations occur remains to be seen. The 51-year-old has been battling with an inoperable brain tumor since August 2012, which has relegated him to a wheelchair and shut down the right side of his body.

More from SB Nation:

Brisbee: Why Bud Selig should have compromised

Video: A-Rod debuts to boos

Biogenesis: Agents speak out against ACES

On Biogenesis and player selfishness

Neyer: How little the Biogenesis suspensions matter

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