Explosive revelations could turn baseball on its head.
New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and eight others will be banned by Major League Baseball this week in a major doping scandal, the New York Daily News reported.
The newspaper reported that unnamed sources said major league officials told players union leaders of their plans at a meeting at the union’s Manhattan offices.
Rodriguez was among several players who allegedly obtained performance enhancing drugs from a Florida health clinic, Biogenesis, in a scandal revealed six months ago.
Most of the players involved will be suspended for 50 games, about the remainder of the regular season for most clubs, but some face longer bans for interfering in Major League Baseball’s investigation into the clinic and doping by players, including lying to investigators.
Thus far, none have tested positive under Major League Baseball’s anti-doping test program, toughened in recent years after complaints from US lawmakers.
If the suspensions are handed down, it would be the most comprehensive doping ban imposed by a sport that has seen several stars admit to doping and such icons as US home run king Barry Bonds and pitching legend Roger Clemens escape doping charges in court cases but only after their legacies were tainted and the sport took a black eye with fans..
Not all players linked to Biogenesis will be suspended, according to the report, because the probe could not uncover enough evidence to prove wrongdoing.
Some players have already been suspended for their links to the clinic, including Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera.
David Cornwell, an attorney for Rodriguez, said the Yankees third baseman will appeal any ban.
“A-Rod” has been sidelined by hip surgery in January and a left quad strain but is working to return in early August, perhaps as soon as Friday.
The report said players were expected to inform Major League Baseball of an intent to challenge the bans by Wednesday.
The report said investigators have overwhelming evidence that Rodriguez used performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, 2011 and 2012, including hundreds of e-mails, phone records and text messages.
In 2009, “A-Rod” admitted that he had taken steroids from 2001 to 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers, tainting what had then been seen as an undoped challenge to the major league home run record.
Evidence gathered by investigators shows Rodriguez tried to interfere with the probe by purchasing documents linking him to the clinic and intimidating witnesses, in addition to using banned drugs, according to the report.
If Rodriguez appeals his ban, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig could invoke the seldom-used power to ban a player to preserve the integrity of the sport, bypassing the owners-union deal and putting a suspension in force immediately.
Rodriguez could appeal such a move, but Selig would be the one to hear the appeal and the process would likely take the remaining two months of the season to complete.
Among others linked to Biogenesis in evidence first obtained by Miami New Times newspaper are Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego infielder Everth Cabrera.
The Detroit Tigers obtained Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias in a three-team transfer deal on Tuesday, the eve of Wednesday’s major league trade deadline, in what some saw as a signal that Peralta will be suspended.