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August 5th, 2013
07:05 PM ET

Head of anti-doping group: Rodriguez suspension is 'fair and just,' sends strong message to players

Alex Rodriguez was suspended from Major League Baseball until the 2015 season for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs Monday.

Rodriguez, who denies the charges, will not play for 211 games.

The MLB said in a statement, "Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and Human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years."

"It's a pretty powerful suspension," said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"You multiply that by the number of athletes that were involved, and you see a pretty wide conspiracy of players in the Miami area that all had connections, that were using these dangerous performance-enhancing drugs to defraud the fans, and to defraud the spectators, and all of us who love baseball," said Tygart.

Rodriguez is in his is 38 years old, and fresh off the injured list – this suspension could be career-ending. If so many players are allegedly doping, some question whether Rodriguez's 211 game suspension is fair.

"It is a fair and just suspension based on the rules that apply to Major League Baseball," said Tygart, who also said he gives the commissioner credit for taking a strong stand, and sending a powerful message to current and future players.

"Our kids, the millions out there who one day hope to be an MVP player in the sport baseball – and now they'll know that you can't cheat, that you can't defraud the sports fans, and also rob your competitors ... from their athletic accomplishments," said Tygart.

Some athletes are told they can get away with doping, and evade drug tests. Tygart said players do weigh the risks, and sometimes think the gain is worth it.

"Given the pressures and the money that is on athletes to win, quite frankly ... they go through the cost-benefit analysis and if they think they can get away with it, they're going to take that risk," said Tygart.

Players associated with the biogensis laboratory in Florida who tested positive for doping were penalized. But others were also disciplined, through non-analytical, reliable evidence in the absence of a positive test, said Tygart.

The New York Yankees issued a statement in response to Rodriguez's suspension, saying, "The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez."

If the teams knew, and were complicit, they should be held accountable, said Tygart, which is what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found in its cycling investigation, resulting in the suspension of teams, doctors, and trainers from organized sport.

"But if the teams didn't know, it's totally unfair, I think, to hold the teams responsible for it," said Tygart.

"What will be interesting [is] if A-Rod decides to challenge whether or not he used and possessed these performance-enhancing drugs, as Major League Baseball alleges, or if he's just going to attempt to get a reduction in his suspension," said Tygart.

"We as sports fans will be inclined to forgive if he does what the other 17 in this case have done, which is acknowledge their use and possession, and then not fight," said Tygart.

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