Record drugs bans will "boost" baseball-softball Olympic bid, claim WBSC officials
By James Crook

Rodriguez was one of 13 Major League Baseball (MLB) players banned and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) claimed that it shows the sport is taking the problem of doping seriously.

Rodriguez, who signed a 10-year contract worth $275 million (£180 million/€210 million) with the New York Yankees in 2007, was banned for 211 games for "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," according to an MLB statement.

A further 12 MLB players were also punished for their involvement in the doping scandal: Rodriguez's fellow Yankees players Francisco Cervelli and Fernando Martinez, along with Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, New York Mets players Cesar Puello and Jordany Valdespin, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Sergio Escalona of the Houston Astros, Jesus Montero from the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta and free agents Fautino De Los Santo and Jordan Norberto, all of whom accepted 50-game bans without pay.

They are all implicated in the doping ring orchestrated at the now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Florida, led by clinic founder Tony Bosch who was sued by the MLB in March, but these players have received more lenient bans than Rodriguez as they are first-time offenders.

Widespread doping in the MLB was a major factor in the decision to drop baseball from the Olympics in 2005, but the WBSC clearly see the fact that action has been taken against drug cheats in the league as a step in the right direction, and even as an enhancer to their bid.

"Major League Baseball's leadership and aggressive action against performance enhancing drugs is to be applauded," said the WBSC in a statement earlier today.

"WADA's recent statements commending MLB and calling them a 'valuable partner to WADA in the fight against doping in sport' is a testament to that.

"Very few professional sport leagues in the world have taken such a serious approach to doping.

"Moreover, MLB has worked in partnership with us to adopt anti-doping policies and practices for the World Baseball Classic that are in full compliance with the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code, including blood testing, which shows the seriousness and strength of their overall commitment.

"We believe these actions, which are in line with the Olympic Movement's united fight against doping in sport, will only serve to strengthen the case for baseball and softball's inclusion on the Olympic programme."

The WBSC bid to get baseball and softball back onto the Olympic programme as of 2020 will learn its fate in just over one months' time at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires on September 8, where it faces opposition from squash and wrestling.

WADA have also praised the MLB for its tough action.

"WADA commends the decision of Major League Baseball (MLB) to seek suspension of an estimated 20 players associated with a performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) scandal involving a Miami-area clinic," said David Howman, WADA chief executive.

(Read the fully story on Inside the Games)