12 February 2013

Dancing on the Grave of Alex Rodriguez’s Career

by Christopher Bradley, 3L Contributor

          A recent Miami New Times report implicated several Major League Baseball players in widespread use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) provided by the Miami-based anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis.  Some of the more recognizable names include Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, and proven PED users, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
© Dennies Ku/Shutterstock.com
          Rodriguez has released a statement vehemently denying these recent allegations; despite his name showing up in the records Biogenesis keeps 16 times.  In 2009, Rodriguez openly admitted that he “dabbled” in the use of PEDs between 2001 and 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.  He cited the immense pressure he was under to perform after signing the 10-year $252 million mega contract, the first of its kind.  At the time of this admission, the Yankees took no action against Rodriguez, in 2007, he had signed yet another mega contract, this one being a 10-year $275 million albatross that included millions in incentives for potential record breaking numbers.  At the time of this contract it, was universally believed that Rodriguez was a “clean” player and would someday break the all-time homerun record set by proven PED user, Barry Bonds.
          It has been widely reported that the Yankees will attempt to void Rodriguez’s contract, if they are successful, they will not have to pay the remaining $114 million owed to him and will set a precedent that could allow teams to void albatross contracts left and right.  This is not the first time the Yankees have attempted to void a contract for a proven PED user.  In 2004, when it was revealed that first baseman Jason Giambi used PEDs after he testified in front of a grand jury during the BALCO investigation.  The Yankees were unsuccessful in this attempt because Giambi’s contract had specific language preventing such action from being taken.  All MLB contracts have moral clauses, preventing teams from voiding contracts based on, among other things, PED use.  No team will be successful in voiding a player’s contract unless there is specific language regarding PED use.  The general consensus is that Rodriguez’s contract contains similar language to Giambi’s deal.
          Under Major League Baseball’s collectively bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program Section 7, paragraph M states, "All authority to discipline Players for violations of the Program shall repose with the Commissioner's Office. No Club may take any disciplinary or adverse action against a Player (including, but not limited to, a fine, suspension, or any adverse action pursuant to a Uniform Player's Contract) because of a Player's violation of the Program."  Furthermore, the Yankees will more than likely be unsuccessful in voiding the contract because after the 2009 admission, and their failure to take action against Rodriguez, it can be said that they legally “ratified” his behavior.
It is unclear what will come of Rodriguez’s situation, many reports say that the Yankees front office is exploring other avenues in order to void his contract and effectively end his career.  One thing is for sure; Major League Baseball’s PED problem is far from over. 

The Miami New Times report may be found here.
More commentary may be found here.

Christopher is a third-year day division student at Duquesne Law School.  He earned his bachelor’s degree at Duquesne, studying political science and history. Christopher is interested in contract and bankruptcy law as well as being an avid baseball fan, he hopes to work in the front office of an MLB team. He may be reached at bradleycs1@gmail.com.