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Alex Rodriguez given exemptions for banned substances by MLB, book alleges
Suspended Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez received exemptions from Major League Baseball to take banned substances in 2007 and 2008, according to an excerpt of a new book published by Sports Illustrated on Wednesday morning.
The book, "Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era," cites a transcript obtained from Rodriguez's 2013 arbitration hearing. Rodriguez was fighting a record 211-game ban imposed by MLB for his alleged involvement with Biogenesis, a now closed anti-aging clinic in the Miami area. Rodriguez's suspension was eventually reduced to 162 games by an arbitrator.
But the authors of "Blood Sport," Tim Elfrink, the Miami New Times managing editor who broke the Biogenesis story in January 2013, and Gus Garcia-Roberts, an investigative reporter for Newsday, write that MLB entered Rodriguez's therapeutic use exemptions into evidence during the arbitration proceedings.
Rodriguez's first exemption, the excerpt says, was approved on Feb. 16, 2007, allowing him to use testosterone. Before the 2008 season, the excerpt says, Rodriguez requested two more exemptions, this time for a hormone called HCG and a female fertility drug. The female fertility drug was approved, but the hormone was not. Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 for using HCG.
Major League Baseball released a statement on Wednesday in response to the excerpt. The statement said that a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) is reviewed by the "Independent Program Administrator" (IPA) in consultation with "outside medical experts, with no input by either the Office of the Commissioner or the Players Association." MLB and the MLBPA are not aware of which players apply for the exemptions, according to the statement.
"The TUE process under the Joint Drug Program is comparable to the process under the World Anti-Doping Code," MLB's statement said. "The standard for receiving a TUE for a medication listed as a performance-enhancing substance is stringent, with only a few such TUEs being issued each year by the IPA."
The statement also said that MLB and the MLBPA annually review the exemeption process.
"As recommended by the Mitchell Report, since 2008 MLB and the MLBPA have publicly issued the IPA's annual report, which documents how many TUEs were granted for each category of medication," the statement said.
The exemption, if approved, can be used for a year, according to the excerpt.
Rodriguez hit .314 with an MLB-best 54 home runs and 156 RBIs in 2007 en route to his third American League MVP award. After that season, he opted out of his contract and negotiated a new 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees. That deal could be worth over $300 million total with certain bonuses. He batted .302 with 35 home runs and 103 RBIs in 2008.