(Reuters) - Major League Baseball has offered to waive the confidentiality agreement in the doping case against Alex Rodriguez to allow both sides to speak openly about details but the move was dismissed as a “stunt” by the slugger’s lawyer.
After days of tit-for-tat allegations in the case of Rodriguez, who is still playing while he appeals a 211-game ban for a range of doping related offences, the player’s attorney was on Monday given a letter from the league live on television.
“Today” show presenter Matt Lauer handed Joe Tacopina a letter from MLB offering to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and reveal emails, letters and text messages gathered in the case.
Tacopina did not sign the letter but told Lauer on the morning news show that he would welcome openness in the case.
“We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history and the scientific evidence and the test of Alex Rodriguez regarding this JDA (Joint Drug Agreement),” Tacopina said.
Later, in a statement, Tacopina said that the agreement’s wording meant that any change would have to be approved by the players’ union, the MLBPA, and that the way the letter was presented to him showed it to be a less than serious move.
“The letter was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt,” he said in the statement which was emailed to Reuters. “The letter that was addressed to my law office with the words ‘Via Hand Delivery’ on top was in fact never delivered to my office but was instead given to the Today show.
“(That) in and of itself is yet another violation of the confidentiality clause of the JDA. They know full and well that they have to address the letter to the MLBPA and such a waiver would require the MLBPA to be a party to the agreement and signatures.
“It’s nothing but a theatrical trap hoping I would sign, knowing that I couldn’t, and in fact, would have me breaching the JDA agreement if I did,” Tacopina added.
Along with Rodriguez, another 12 players, including three All-Stars, were handed 50-game suspensions following an MLB investigation into a Florida clinic accused of supplying them with performance enhancing drugs.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig said Rodriguez received a stiffer penalty because he was a long-time drug user who had committed other offences and had sought to cover up his use and “obstruct” league investigations.
However, Tacopina expressed confidence that Rodriguez would win his appeal and escape any ban, arguing that the source of allegations against the slugger was tainted.
“I know the evidence against Alex Rodriguez, and I will tell you this - it will never stand up in a court of law or in an arbitration panel courtroom,” Tacopina said. “Never. Because the evidence is based on one person - Anthony Bosch.”
Bosch is the owner of the Biogenesis anti-ageing clinic in Florida which was at the centre of baseball’s latest doping scandal.
MLB has a murky history concerning doping allegations and the sport’s administrators have been heavily criticized in the past for a lax approach, including being accused of turning a blind eye to steroid use, not conducting enough tests and failing to impose stiff penalties.
Despite the recent “steroid era” where the sport’s batting records were destroyed, no player had ever been suspended for more than 100 games before this latest investigation.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes