Will A-Rod’s Lawsuit Against MLB Succeed? It is doubtful.
In August of 2013, Major League Baseball (MLB) handed down a 211-game suspension to Alex Rodriguez due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez appealed the decision (which allowed him to finish playing the 2013 season) before an arbitrator. The arbitrator upheld the suspension in the amount of 162 games, which is a record-breaking term for a MLB suspension. The suspension is notable because it did not result from a positive drug test, but rather from testimony of witnesses like Tony Bosch and documentary evidence like text messages.
Under the professional baseball player’s Joint Drug Agreement (JDA), first-time offenders receive 50-game suspensions. The MLB claims Rodriguez’s unprecedented suspension was the result of his use of numerous forms of performance enhancing drugs over several years and his attempt to cover up his violations.
In response, Rodriguez filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against MLB and the MLB Players Association seeking to overturn the arbitrator’s decision. Rodriguez’s complaint asserts that the arbitrator ignored the JDA’s terms for disciplinary actions. Additionally, it claims that the arbitration award was not based upon the JDA or the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Rodriguez’s chances of success in the federal court are doubtful since the CBA provides that arbitration decisions are to be final. Federal law also strongly encourages upholding arbitration awards unless the arbitrator has a conflict of interest or exhibits bias against A-Rod. Regardless, this controversy will continue on, but don’t feel too sorry for A-Rod because he has made approximately $350 million playing baseball. In fact, even if his suspension is upheld, it is likely he will be paid another $61 million for the remainder of his contract which expires in 2017. The most unfortunate result of this litigation may be that instead of addressing the primary problem, it sends a message to baseball players that whatever you do, don’t get caught!
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