By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez accepted his season-long suspension from Major League Baseball on Friday, the longest penalty in the sport’s history related to performance-enhancing drugs.
The decision came nearly four weeks after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz issued his decision largely upholding the penalty issued to the New York Yankees third baseman last summer by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Rodriguez had repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and sued MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association in federal court to overturn the penalty.
But 27 days after Horowitz’s decision, with the start of spring training a week away, the three-time AL MVP withdrew the lawsuit and a previous action filed last fall claiming MLB and Selig were engaged in a “witch hunt” against him.
MLB issued a statement calling the decision to end the litigation “prudent.”
“We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow major league players,” the sport said. “We share that desire.”
Rodriguez had angered many of his fellow players by suing his own union in an attempt to avoid a suspension.
“Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit,” the union said in a statement. “His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
After issuing a contentious statement on the day of the arbitration decision, Rodriguez folded quietly.
“We stand by the statements issued and have no further comment,” Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said. .
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