By Adam Reiss
NEW YORK (CNN) — Just five days into his arbitration hearing, Alex Rodriguez filed suit Friday in New York Supreme Court against Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Bud Selig.
He alleges that MLB and Selig “engaged in tortious and egregious conduct with one and only one goal … to destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez.”
The lawsuit claims that in its investigation of Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, Major League Baseball engaged in vigilante justice to prove that Rodriguez was using performance enhancing drugs.
“They have ignored the procedures set forth in baseball’s collectively bargained labor agreements; violated the strict confidentiality imposed by these agreements; paid individuals millions of dollars and made promises of future employment to individuals in order to get them to produce documents and to testify on MLB’ s behalf; bullied and intimidated those individuals who refused to cooperate with their witch hunt; and singled out (Rodriguez) for an unprecedented 211-game suspension — the longest non-permanent ban in baseball history,” the suit says.
Rodriguez, 38, is fighting to overturn the suspension and has hired a high-priced team of lawyers, publicists and investigators. He has shown up each day during this week’s arbitration process at MLB’s Park Avenue headquarters. His lawsuit outside the arbitration process is an effort to save his reputation and his $25 million salary for the 2014 season.
Rodriguez says the investigation, which was supposed to stay private, has permanently harmed his reputation and ensured that he will never again secure any endorsement contracts.
The 31-page document includes a litany of allegations, including that MLB went around collective bargain agreements to make an example of Rodriguez and to “gloss over Selig’s past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances in baseball and to secure his legacy as the savior of America’s pastime.”
There are accusations that a representative of MLB purchased stolen documents for $150,000 in cash, documents presumably that would document Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs. In addition, the document says the same MLB representative engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness in the case against Rodriguez.
The suit suggests that in exchange for Bosch’s assistance, MLB promised to provide him security, pay his legal bills, and indemnify him for civil liability that may arise from his cooperation.
It accuses Selig of conducting a witch hunt, and attacks his tenure as commissioner, mentioning the strike in 1994-1995. It also gives says steroids were used by other players, including Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco.
The suit says that in its investigation of Rodriguez in the Biogenesis case that is currently before an arbitration panel at MLB headquarters in New York, baseball officials paid millions of dollars to individuals and bullied and intimidated them to produce documents that incriminated Rodriguez and to testify on MLB’s behalf.
The document alleges that the lawsuit filed by MLB against Biogenesis is a sham aimed at obtaining information about MLB players.
Rodriguez is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from MLB, which he accuses of leaking stories to the media during the Biogenesis investigation. He also says an appearance by Selig on David Letterman’s show turned what was supposed to be a confidential disciplinary and appeal process into a public trial.
“Taking down Mr. Rodriguez,” the suit contends, “would vividly demonstrate that Commissioner Selig had learned from the errors of his previous explicit or tacit tolerance of steroid use.”
MLB’s actions were “done solely with the intent of harming Mr. Rodriguez and interfering with his business relationships,” the suit says.
In response, Major League Baseball issued a statement Friday calling the lawsuit “a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program” and an attempt to circumvent the collective bargaining agreement that laid out how MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association handle the grievance process.
“While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint, none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by 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.”
In a statement to CNN, Rodriguez said, “The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights. This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration. I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters.”
Rodriguez’s suspension was far longer than the punishment handed down to 13 other players connected to Biogenesis. The others, including stars Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, accepted their suspensions and didn’t fight the league.
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