Baseball's chief arbitrator has slapped Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez with a 162-game suspension in connection with the Biogenesis doping scandal.
Rodriguez will also have to pay the league $25 million of his yearly salary, as well as any performance incentives he would have gotten this year.
This comes nearly a month after a hearing where A-Rod contested accusations that he was given performance-enhancing drugs at a now-defunct Miami clinic.
The 14-time All Star was initially given a 211-game suspension.
In a statement from Rodriguez, released through spokesman Ron Berkowitz, the Yankee slugger said he planned to continue fighting the suspension in federal court.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable," reads the statement, in part.
“I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal," concludes Rodriguez's statement.
Fans have mixed opinions about the ruling that benches the Yankee slugger for an entire season and post season.
"Everybody knows he's what keeps the Yankees going. Truth be told, I feel like he's the best player on that team other than Derek Jeter," said one fan.
"I think he's lucky he got 162 games. I think he should have been banned from baseball. I think he was not truthful. I think he's been lying for a very long time,” said another.
Rodriguez reportedly still plans to attend spring training, which he is allowed to do despite the lengthy suspension.
"I guess he does have the rights to still practice, but I think as long as he's not playing in the field, it should be no problem," said another fan.
The Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement following the suspension announcement.
"The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the Arbitration Panel's decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez's unprecedented 211-game suspension. We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision," reads the MLBPA's statement.
Major League Baseball released a statement as well.
“For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights. While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game," reads MLB's statement.
The New York Yankees released a statement.
“The New York Yankees respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel," reads the statement.