August 09, 2013

Mike Volpe quoted in Forbes on MLB’s obstacles in A-Rod arbitration

2 min

Venable partner Mike Volpe was quoted in an August 9, 2013 Forbes on Major League Baseball’s (MLB) decision to suspend New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for 211 games. Thirteen players, including Rodriguez, were suspended Monday for the use and possession of performance enhancing substances. Rodriguez has appealed the suspension and his case will be heard by an arbitrator later this year. He remains eligible to play in the meantime.

“The Howe case is an opening,” said Volpe, citing the 1992 lifetime ban of Steve Howe for seven violations of the league’s drug policy. Howe’s ban was reduced to time served by an arbitrator in the offseason. “You have a precedent of a seven-time offender getting reduced,” Volpe added. While Rodriguez admitted to using performance enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003, he is technically a first time offender under the league’s Joint Drug Agreement which only brings a 50 game suspension. During the arbitration hearing, the league could argue that Rodriguez’s previous admission is relevant, however, Volpe says, “That’s not what the agreement says.”

Another obstacle facing MLB is its decision to load Rodriguez’s suspension with more games through a combination of the Joint Drug Agreement, for using performance enhancing drugs, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for trying to obstruct the league’s investigation. “The idea was to negotiate an exclusive agreement for the PED issue,” Volpe said about the Joint Drug Agreement. “They’ll say, ‘why did we negotiate this separate document?’ It could be persuasive.”