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Alex Rodriguez 211-game suspension historic for Major League Baseball (+video)

Alex Rodriguez was handed the longest non-lifetime ban in Major League Baseball history Monday. He will appeal, but the statement is important for baseball in its decades-long drug fight.

By Staff writer / August 5, 2013

New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez awaits his turn in the batting cage prior to a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., in this file photo. Rodriguez was suspended Monday for violating the Major League Baseball drug policy.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters/File

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New York

Alex Rodriguez, the mercurial New York Yankees superstar who signed the two richest contracts ever offered an athlete, was suspended by Major League Baseball Monday for 211 games, a punishment that will begin Thursday and extend through the entire 2014 season.

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News that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been suspended through 2014 had fans in New York expressing satisfaction and doubt over the suspension for his relationship to Biogenesis of America.

Rodriguez is scheduled to play Monday night for the Yankees in Chicago – after having missed the entire season so far because of injury – and he could continue to play during an appeal, which could last the rest of this season. The stakes for Rodriguez are enormous. Not only will he stand to lose $36 million of nearly $100 million the Yankees still owe him if the suspension is upheld, but at age 38, a 211-game suspension could effectively end his career. 

For Major League Baseball, the suspension is hardly less momentous. Rodriguez is by far the highest-profile player to be suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs, and his suspension is the longest non-lifetime ban in the history of the league. He is also only one of 13 players suspended Friday for their connection to Biogenesis, a small antiaging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., that provided athletes with performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

The suspensions affirm that MLB has become the most aggressive of the four major American sports leagues in pursuing drug-cheats, and some analysts suggest the suspensions could create a momentum toward acceptance of drug-testing regimes and punishments more in line with the much-tougher Olympic standard.

It would be a shock, “if you don’t see the players step up and toughen the penalties during the offseason, because they think there’s no question that the possible rewards outweigh the risks at this point, and they want to change the equation,” said ESPN’s Buster Olney.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig called the suspensions a victory for the league's current Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, which was implemented in 2006 as a response to the so-called “Steroid Era,” which violated the integrity of some of the game’s most storied records.

“This case resoundingly illustrates that the strength of our Program is not limited only to testing,” said Mr. Selig in a statement. “We continue to attack this issue on every front – from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills. Major League Baseball is proud of the enormous progress we have made, and we look forward to working with the players to make the penalties for violations of the Drug Program even more stringent and a stronger deterrent.”

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