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Alex Rodriguez suspension: Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz explains penalty

Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz says A-Rod's unprecedented misconduct led to his decision on the length of the suspension.


The season-long suspension Alex Rodriguez will serve for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic resulted from what arbitrator Fredric Horowitz called "the most egregious violations of the Joint Drug Agreement reported to date," according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

Though the suspension has been reported as 162 games, Horowitz appears to have termed the length as the 2014 season in his ruling, citing the unprecedented nature of the infractions as his justification for the length in the arbitration decision, which is available in full through the Wall Street Journal.

"Given number and frequency of intentional violations ...[snip]... the number of prohibited substances... [snip] ... the suspension of entire season supported by just cause."

The arbitration decision ends with a similar justification for the season-long suspension with Horowitz stating:

"While the length of the suspension may be unprecedented for an MLB Player, so is the misconduct."

The selection of a single season as the length does not come from any language in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement or Joint Drug Agreement. In the arbitration decision, Horowitz cited the non-analytic penalty -- a suspension that comes from evidence such as the Biogenesis documents and not a failed test -- that was handed out to Jason Grimsley after he was found to have purchased HGH and the 100-game suspension to Guillermo Mota for his second failed test as possible precedents. However, Horowitz concluded that both fall short of matching the extent to which Rodriquez violated the current JDA.

He also rejected Rodriguez's assertion that MLB's actions in pursuit of evidence against him from clinic owner Anthony Bosch constituted coercion. Bosch initially refused to cooperate with the league, but agreed after MLB threatened him with a civil suit. Horowitz wrote:

"Because of the severity of the allegations in the initial Miami New Times report, MLB had a legitimate interest in obtaining accurate information about Bosch's involvement with MLB players...[snip]... Resort to legal action does not amount to coercion."

As arbitrator, Horowitz has the power to rule on the appropriate length of the suspension, but because the length is not in keeping with the suspension lengths proscribed in the JDA, this could become a central issue in Rodriquez's upcoming appeal and lawsuits. The Supreme Court has ruled that courts can intervene only with an arbitrator's decision when it goes so far that he "dispenses his own brand of justice," as Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs explains. Rodriguez's lawyers could attempt to portray the season-long suspension as such a decision, but Thurm also notes that "non-analytical positives" are not limited to the same punishment progression that governs positive tests.

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