April 3, 2015 / 6:13 PM / in 3 years

Arbitrator rules no suspension for Hamilton

(Reuters) - Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will not be disciplined after an arbitrator ruled he had not violated his drug treatment program, Major League Baseball said on Friday.

Aug 29, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) makes a diving catch of a fly ball by Oakland Athletics second baseman Alberto Callaspo (not pictured) in the fifth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports - RTR44B1Z

Hamilton, a five-time All-Star whose debut in the major leagues was delayed by a ban from 2004 to 2006 after failed doping tests as a minor leaguer, reported a substance abuse relapse and met with baseball officials in February.

A four-person panel made up of MLB and Players Association representatives were deadlocked over whether Hamilton had violated the drug program, sending the case to an arbitrator.

“As a result of that decision, the Office of the Commissioner is not permitted to suspend or impose any discipline on Hamilton,” MLB said in a statement. “The Office of the Commissioner disagrees with the decision, and will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the program in the collective bargaining process.”

Hamilton, who is scheduled to make $25 million this year, will start the season on the disabled list after having shoulder surgery and is not expected back until May at the earliest.

Plagued by injuries last season, Hamilton had only 381 at-bats and posted 10 home runs, 44 runs batted in and a .263 batting average.

He has a career batting average of .292, has hit as many as 43 home runs in a season (2012) and in 2008 drove in a league-leading 130 runs.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry

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