A-Rod storms out of hearing, denies performance-enhancing drug use
There is no going back: Alex Rodriguez has given his statement, on the record. Rodriguez claimed on Wednesday that he is completely innocent of using performance-enhancing drugs, as well as every other allegation that led to Major League Baseball hitting him with an unprecedented 211-game suspension back in August.
Rodriguez’s denials did not come under oath, but instead in the court of public opinion in WFAN’s New York studios. Rodriguez parachuted in for a surprise appearance with host Mike Francesa that lasted nearly 40 minutes, with Rodriguez stating that he “shouldn’t even serve one inning” of a suspension.
The appearance came after Rodriguez stormed out of the hearing room in midtown, slamming a table and kicking a briefcase in a furious response after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order Commissioner Bud Selig to testify in Rodriguez’s hearing.
“I’m done. I don’t have a chance,” Rodriguez said on WFAN.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Major League Baseball explained why Selig was not called to testify:
“In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case. Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter,” the statement read. “MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball’s case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today’s antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez’s continuing refusal to testify under oath.”
Rodriguez was accompanied in WFAN’s studios by attorney Jim McCarroll, who said that Rodriguez will not testify unless Selig does. Rodriguez also released a statement through his representatives, saying that he would no longer participate.
“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
In the Francesa interview, Rodriguez repeatedly said “I did nothing,” denying that he used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs supplied by Anthony Bosch or the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez briefly discussed his relationship with Bosch during the WFAN interview.
“It was nutrition and it was weight loss,” Rodriguez said. “And Bosch wasn’t the only guy. I traveled the world to see doctors, cutting-edge stuff, but always between the parameters of Major League Baseball. And I have hundreds of e-mails that will be part of evidence, which I can’t get into, that backs me up 100 percent.”
In response to a question from Francesa, Rodriguez acknowledged that he is “angry” at the Yankees, but said that he has a responsibility to the team and does not believe he would have any issues fitting back into the clubhouse.
“I feel like I should be there Opening Day,” Rodriguez said.
In a brief aside, Rodriguez also denied that he gave a signed baseball to two female fans during the 2012 American League Championship Series, as was widely reported. Rodriguez said that if he had done so, it certainly would have been captured by one of the many television cameras perched around Yankee Stadium.
The Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement following Rodriguez’s exit from the hearing room, disagreeing with Horowitz’s decision to excuse Selig from testifying.
“The MLBPA believes that every player has the right under our arbitration process to directly confront his accuser. We argued strenuously to the arbitrator in Alex’s case that the commissioner should be required to appear and testify. While we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing,” the statement read.
Another of Rodriguez’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, appeared on ESPN Radio and told host Michael Kay that further litigation may be in the future. Rodriguez has already sued MLB and Selig in state court, as well as a lawsuit against Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad that alleges medical malpractice.
Rodriguez said during the WFAN interview that he is so upset at the situation that “right now, I can’t even think straight.” Rodriguez said that he would return home to spend time with his daughters. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Thursday without Rodriguez’s presence.