Originally written on The Other Paper  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Alex Rodriguez said the only dope being taken was himself after claiming he was tricked into taking steroids by Biogenesis proprietor Anthony Bosch. A-Rod —who is fighting a 211-game suspension by Major League Baseball — claims Bosch duped him into using the banned supplements at Tuesday's arbitration hearing. According to the N.Y. Daily News, a source with knowledge of Rodriguez’s ongoing hearings in Manhattan, said the embattled Yankee and his lawyers have presented a case based partly on the idea that Rodriguez believed the substances he procured from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic were innocent legal supplements. That defense conflicts with the version told by Bosch — the founder and head honcho of the now-shuttered facility — who spent part of Monday and almost all of Tuesday testifying before the three-person panel that will decide on the appropriateness of the 211-game doping ban MLB commissioner Bud Selig imposed upon Rodriguez in August. Bosch, who is cooperating with MLB, has spent much of that time validating a vast trove of Biogenesis documents as well as his own electronic communications with Rodriguez. The league believes the evidence reflects a deep dealer-source relationship. If the Biogenesis products were legitimate, MLB argues, why were they so expensive and why were the transactions so secretive? Attorneys for Rodriguez will likely begin their cross-examination of Bosch on Wednesday, attacking his credibility during the closed-door hearing as they have for several months now — pointing out that MLB’s investigators paid Bosch for his evidence and offered to drop him from a lawsuit if he cooperated with their probe. They may also point out that Bosch is the subject of federal and state criminal investigations in Florida, and that he was fined $5,000 by the Florida Department of Health for holding himself out as a doctor. By claiming that he was given banned drugs when he thought he was getting legal supplements, Rodriguez is tearing a page from the playbook that guided other tainted athletes. Barry Bonds told a grand jury in 2003 that he thought the creams he got from his BALCO-affiliated trainer, Greg Anderson, were something like flaxseed oil. Roger Clemens claimed he thought the intramuscular injections he got from his trainer, Brian McNamee, were shots of vitamin B-12 and lidocaine. That sort of alibi got Clemens into trouble when he couldn’t explain why the injections took place during furtive visits to supply closets and an upper East Side apartment, and why he needed an unauthorized strength coach to give him shots instead of a team doctor. Such claims have met minimal success in courtrooms, but they sometimes work in the confidential confines of a sport’s drug program. Olympic sports have the highest standard of what is loosely termed "strict liability," where an athlete is almost always held responsible for substances found in his or her specimen regardless of intent. A-Rod's post-season hearing is expected to continue through this week but can't continue next week due scheduling conflicts. They may pick up once again later this month or in November if necessary.

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