This is going to come as a huge shock, but Alex Rodriguez is claiming he didn't know the products he was getting from Biogenesis were performance-enhancing drugs.
The New York Daily News reports that Rodriguez is pleading ignorance as part of his suspension appeal, saying he thought they were just legal (and, apparently, very expensive) supplements.
Understandably, the league is skeptical -- that's been the go-to defense for just about every player that's been caught up in a PED scandal. Ryan Braun thought he was just getting creams and lozenges from Biogenesis. Barry Bonds swears he thought he was just taking flaxseed oil from BALCO. Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Miguel Tejada and a host of others say they only used vitamin B-12. This has not proven to be a solid defense in the past.
Where Rodriguez may be more successful is in undermining Anthony Bosch's credibility. He is, after all, the one allegedly dealing illegal drugs and selling his testimony to the highest bidder. Bosch may be supplying pages upon pages of evidence against Rodriguez, but if A-Rod can convince the arbitration panel that Bosch -- the shady character he's portrayed to be -- lied to him, too, maybe there's enough doubt to throw out the suspension.
The "I'm not a cheat, I'm just gullible" defense may make A-Rod look like a fool right now, but a.) this is not the first time he's risked embarrassing himself and b.) as Ryan Braun showed the first time around, you can deal with the PR blowback later if you can beat the suspension. Braun was criticized for never addressing the presence of synthetic testosterone in his test results and instead focusing on the test collector violating protocol by not immediately shipping the sample. That got Braun out of the suspension, and for awhile, Braun won back the trust of teammates and some across the league with a passionate press conference the following spring. Of course, if A-Rod does win and is going to take a play from Braun's book, he may want to skip the "continuing to lie" part and just say he's happy to put it all behind him.
The arbitration hearing is supposed to last at least through this week, but will have to go on hold next week. There's still a chance this drags into November -- just in time for the conclusion of the World Series. We'll go out on a limb and say we'll continue to get updates like this on A-Rod's appeal as the process plays out.
[New York Daily News]