A-Rod banned from baseball for doping

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Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, baseball's highest earning player, has been banned for 211 games as Major League Baseball attempts to deal with widespread doping within the sport.

The New York Yankees star is the equivalent of David Beckham in the USA, at least in terms of celebrity. His image is rather less clean-cut. He does share Beckham's fondness for pop stars, and was rumoured to have had a fling with Madonna in 2008. He later dated Cameron Diaz for more than a year.

The 38 year-old will start his ban this week. If 211 games sounds like rather a lot, it actually only amounts to a season and a half, baseball fixtures being ludicrously frequent. Rodriguez has admitted doping between 2001 and 2003 but has claimed that during all his time with the Yankees he has been clean. Rodriguez has vowed to appeal against the ban. He might be entitled to feel a little aggrieved, if only because the baseball authorities have been in the habit of overlooking transgressions for years.

Their statement almost admitted as much, saying that Rodriguez was being punished for his "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and for his attempts to cover up those violations and obstruct a league investigation".

Baseball has been riddled with doping for years, if not decades, to the extent that the sport's record book has to make considerable use of asterisks to denote "clean" records and doped-up achievements.

MLB commissioner Bid Selig defended the sport. "Major League Baseball has worked diligently with the Players Association for more than a decade to make our Joint Drug Program the best in all of professional sports," he claimed. Which does not really explain why 18 top players were connected to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida where it is alleged that they sourced performing-enhancing drugs.

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