Alex Rodriguez has not even been suspended by Major League Baseball for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but the New York Yankees slugger seems to be preparing for an impending legal battle anyway.
According to an ESPN news report, sources told network sports business reporter Darren Rovell that Rodriguez has hired attorney David Cornwell to help his case. Sources also told Rovell that Cornwell has been working with Rodriguez over the past month.
A noted players' rights representative, Cornwell is known for taking over high-profile cases. Most recently and most pertinently, Cornwell is easily recognized by folks in the commissioner's office as Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun's representation in his positive performance-enhancing drug test hearing in 2012.
Braun was suspended by MLB for a positive drug test revealed in late 2011, but he had appealed his 50-game suspension. In his hearing, Braun and Cornwell argued that the handler of his urine test mishandled the sample, causing the positive test. Arbitrator Shyam Das later ruled in Braun's favor, lifting his suspension and setting a precedent that would be used in similar cases across all sports.
The contamination defense was later used by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who also had his four-game ban overturned.
The Braun-Rodriguez-Cornwell relationship is particularly salient, as the two sluggers are the two most notable targets in MLB's effort to suspend players involved with Biogenesis, a Miami-based wellness clinic that allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to players.
A Miami New Times report in January exposed the now-defunct clinic as a widespread drug ring. In the report, Biogenesis employees, particularly founder Tony Bosch, were accused of providing human-growth hormone, anabolic steroids and testosterone to its clients—all of which violate MLB's collective-bargaining agreement.
Braun, Rodriguez and many others were implicated in the scandal, and MLB subsequently launched what would become an unprecedented investigation.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish broke a story saying the commissioner's office was preparing to suspend players involved with Biogenesis after striking an agreement with Bosch to testify against his former clients. Bosch, who was supposed to meet with officials Friday, was expected to name names and confirm the findings of MLB's independent investigation.
Upon hearing what Bosch has to say, MLB is reportedly planning on handing down unprecedented punishments. Braun and Rodriguez are expected to face 100-game bans and "about 20" players are facing suspensions, according to ESPN's T.J. Quinn:
BREAKING: MLB will seek to suspend A-Rod, Ryan Braun and about 20 players connected to Miami clinic. Founder Tony Bosch agreed to cooperate.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) June 4, 2013
In the time since the ESPN report leaked, Braun has maintained his innocence and continued playing for the last-place Brewers.
Rodriguez, who has missed the entire 2013 season while recovering from an injury, was less staunch about his innocence. In a statement released earlier this week, Rodriguez said that he would not comment on the situation until "appropriate."
Here is a look at the full release, via ESPN:
Myself and others are being mentioned in a media report before the process is even concluded. I would hope this thing would follow the guidelines of our Basic Agreement. I will monitor the situation and comment when appropriate.
As I have said previously, I am working out every day to get back on the field and help the Yankees win a championship. I am down here doing my job and working hard and will continue to do so until I'm back playing.
While Rodriguez's focus seems to be on getting back to the diamond, it's fair to say he's at least preparing for the worst.
Neither Cornwell nor Rodriguez have commented on their reported relationship.
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