In this Nov. 4, 2009, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez celebrates after winning the Major League Baseball World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies in New York. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case — the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago.
Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension last month and previous punishments bring to 18 the total number of players disciplined for their relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.
The harshest penalty was reserved for Rodriguez, a three-time Most Valuable Player and baseball's highest-paid star. His suspension covers 211 games, starting Thursday, and he is expected to appeal.
The New York Yankees slugger admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has repeatedly denied using them since.
Rodriguez was suspended under both the drug agreement and labor contract.
MLB said the drug penalty was for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years."
His penalty under the labor contract was "for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner's investigation."
Rodriguez has until Thursday to appeal, and if he does so, he will remain eligible to play until a decision by the arbitrator.
"Those players who have violated the program have created scrutiny for the vast majority of our players, who play the game the right way," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. "We continue to attack this issue on every front — from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills."
The text of a statement by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on the league's discipline of 13 players in a sweeping drug investigation:
Major League Baseball has worked diligently with the Players Association for more than a decade to make our Joint Drug Program the best in all of professional sports. I am proud of the comprehensive nature of our efforts - not only with regard to random testing, groundbreaking blood testing for human Growth Hormone and one of the most significant longitudinal profiling programs in the world, but also our investigative capabilities, which proved vital to the Biogenesis case. Upon learning that players were linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we vigorously pursued evidence that linked those individuals to violations of our Program. We conducted a thorough, aggressive investigation guided by facts so that we could justly enforce our rules.
Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do. For weeks, I have noted the many players throughout the game who have strongly voiced their support on this issue, and I thank them for it. I appreciate the unwavering support of our owners and club personnel, who share my ardent desire to address this situation appropriately. I am also grateful to the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society and our club physicians, who were instrumental in the banning of amphetamines and whose expertise remains invaluable to me. As an institution, we have made unprecedented strides together.
It is important to point out that 16,000 total urine and blood tests were conducted on players worldwide under MLB Drug Programs in 2012. With the important additions of the hGH testing and longitudinal profiling this season, we are more confident than ever in the effectiveness of the testing program. Those players who have violated the Program have created scrutiny for the vast majority of our players, who play the game the right way.
This case resoundingly illustrates that the strength of our Program is not limited only to testing. We continue to attack this issue on every front - from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills. Major League Baseball is proud of the enormous progress we have made, and we look forward to working with the players to make the penalties for violations of the Drug Program even more stringent and a stronger deterrent.
As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, Baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field. We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.
Reaction to MLB's suspension of 13 players on Monday, after a sweeping drug investigation:
"I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this." — Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"I have been notified by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement. I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse. I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time. I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers' fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs." — Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, suspended 50 games.
"In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret. I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers' organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension. I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost." — Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, suspended 50 games.
"The penalties are a joke. If these players were in the Olympics or USA Track and Field, for example - the gold standards of testing - each player's first major finding like this would cause a two year ban_a real penalty. Fifty games is less than a third of a season. These guys will be back for the playoffs! Baseball is not serious." — former Clinton administration drug policy spokesman Bob Weiner.
"It is with sadness and disappointment that we learned today that Alex Rodriguez has once again violated the rules of Major League Baseball by using illegal substances. ... We have had a good relationship with Rodriguez since early 2009 when we stood with him at his press conference in Tampa. There, he issued his public mea culpa, committed that he would not be involved in the future with banned substances, and said that he wanted to help us to encourage kids to stay away from them. He offered to use his situation as an example to let them know that it is not right for them to use performance enhancing drugs. Working together, we've delivered messages to thousands of kids and have impacted their lives in a positive way. But today's announcement leaves us no option but to discontinue our relationship with Alex Rodriguez." — Don Hooton president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which aims to educate youth about the hazards of steroid use.
"Today, I was notified by Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement. I have decided to accept this suspension and will not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. I made significant errors in judgment during the 2012 season and I accept full responsibility for those errors. I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Phillies' organization, Phillies' fans and my family, and look forward to helping the Phillies win a championship in 2014." — Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo, suspended 50 games.
"We are in full support of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.
However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees' role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.
Separately, we are disappointed with the news today of the suspension of Francisco Cervelli. It's clear that he used bad judgment." — statement issued by the New York Yankees.
"The Texas Rangers are disappointed that Nelson Cruz has violated the terms of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program resulting in his suspension. The Rangers' organization fully supports the MLB program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game." — statement issued by the Texas Rangers.
"I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name. With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game. This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA." — Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who was linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, but exonerated by MLB's investigation.