A-Rod's lawyer rejects MLB threat to make evidence public
Joe Tacopina says letter was 'publicity stunt, trap'
A lawyer for Alex Rodriguez declined Major League Baseball's challenge to make public the drug evidence that led to the 211-game suspension of the New York Yankees star.
MLB executive vice-president Rob Manfred wrote to lawyer Joseph Tacopina on Monday, urging him to waive his client's confidentiality under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement so the documents could be released. Tacopina had said he wanted to discuss evidence publicly but was constrained by the provision.
"We will agree to waive those provisions as they apply to both Rodriguez and the office of commissioner of baseball with respect to Rodriguez's entire history under the program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the program, and all information and evidence relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch, Anthony Galea and Victor Conte," Manfred wrote in the letter, which was released by MLB.
Bosch was head of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. Galea pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada. Conte was head of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the target of a federal investigation that led to criminal charges against Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and others.
Manfred proposed that both sides disclose information and documents relating to:
- All drug tests that were conducted on Rodriguez under the program and their results;
- All prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, and;
- All documents relating to the issue of whether Rodriguez obstructed the office of the commissioner's investigation.
Tacopina, a lawyer with one of the four firms representing Rodriguez, said the players' association would have to agree to waive confidentiality.
'Cheap publicity stunt'
"The letter was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt," Tacopina said in a statement. "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, which in and of itself is yet another violation of the confidentiality clause of the JDA. They know full well that they have to address the letter to the MLBPA and such a waiver would require the MLBAPA to be party of 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."
The union didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez is playing pending his appeal, which is not expected to be decided by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz until at least November.
In addition to his own lawyers, Rodriguez paid Florida-based attorney Susy Ribero-Ayala in February to represent Bosch.
"A retainer of $25,000 was paid [via wire transfer] by a representative of Alex Rodriguez. Ms. Ribero-Ayala accepted this payment on behalf of Anthony Bosch as payment for his legal representation," Ribero-Ayala spokeswoman Joyce Fitzpatrick said in a statement Monday. "In April 2013, Ms. Ribero-Ayala received an unsolicited and unwarranted wire transfer of $50,000 from A-Rod Corp. The funds were immediately returned. Mr. Rodriguez does not have any involvement in Mr. Bosch's legal representation."
In June, Bosch agreed to co-operate with MLB's investigation.
The payments were first reported Sunday by ESPN. Rodriguez declined comment, citing the JDA's confidentiality provision.
"At some point, I think everybody will talk," he said early Monday. "I think everybody has to have a little patience."
Rodriguez is among 14 players disciplined by MLB this summer following its Biogenesis investigation. Former NL MVP Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension and 12 players agreed to 50-game penalties.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez made his big league season debut Aug. 5, the same day his suspension was announced. He had been sidelined since left hip surgery in January and his return was delayed by a leg injury in July.
Rodriguez batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs in last year's playoffs, and Tacopina claims an Oct. 11 MRI at New York-Presbyterian Hospital revealed the left hip injury. The Yankees maintain Rodriguez complained then only of a problem with his right hip, which was operated on in March 2009.
"They put him out there in that condition when he shouldn't have even been walking, much less playing baseball," Tacopina said Monday during an interview with The Associated Press.
Rodriguez said Sunday he asked the union to file a grievance over his medical treatment. That likely will not be part of the drug appeal.
"I'm sure it will be separate, but I'll leave that to those experts in labour law and the CBA process," he said.
Allegations against Yankees
Tacopina also claims Yankees President Randy Levine told Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery, who operated on Rodriguez's left hip in January, that he didn't want to see Rodriguez play for the team again. Levine has denied the allegation.
"This is part of the mindset of what they're doing to this guy and working in conjunction with MLB to try to keep him off the field," Tacopina said.
Tracy Hickenbottom, a HSS spokeswoman, said Kelly had no comment.
The Yankees said in a statement "we relied upon Dr. Christopher Ahmad and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for medical diagnosis, opinions and treatment. The Yankees neither had any complaints from Alex Rodriguez pertaining to his left hip during the 2012 regular season and the Yankees post-season, nor did the Yankees receive any diagnosis pertaining to his left hip during that same period of time."
Bryan Dotson, a spokesman for New York-Presbyterian, said the hospital had no comment on Rodriguez's treatment,
Also Monday, a woman indicted last year on charges of stalking Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed a petition in New York State Supreme Court asking for an order to block Tacopina from representing Rodriguez.
Louise Motherwell claimed Stephen Turano of Tacopina's firm has represented her in a New Jersey case. One of Motherwell's lawyers said last year she had a consensual relationship with Cashman, and the filing said she shared information with Turano claiming Cashman "intentionally misled federal investigators during the Roger Clemens investigation," "knew of Yankee clubhouse steroid use by various Yankee players by name" and "was ambivalent to the use of performance-enhancement drugs so long as nothing came back to the Yankees organization."
Tacopina said Motherwell never retained his firm, and that Turano has his own firm in New Jersey.