In an extraordinary and emotional news conference amid the All-Star Game festivities, wheelchair-bound baseball union boss Michael Weiner, whose brain tumor was diagnosed last summer, spoke Tuesday about succession plans at the MLB Players Association and addressed the suspensions looming over baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Physically weakened but still committed to his work, Weiner spoke with baseball writers at an East Side hotel hours before the start of the All-Star Game at Citi Field. When he was finished, the writers gave him a standing ovation and many approached to shake his hand.
Weiner said union officials have met and developed a plan for a deputy executive director to succeed him, though he wouldn’t identify who that person was. The Daily News has learned that Weiner’s successor will come from within the association.
Weiner said he expects to meet with league officials within a month to learn the results of MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis, and hear what kind of discipline the league plans to impose. At least 20 players have been linked to the defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic, including Yankee star Alex Rodriguez.
“I would assume within the next few weeks we could meet,” said Weiner.
Weiner said union officials will try to find common ground with the league on the length of the suspensions and how they will be publicized. Weiner said the union will ask that suspensions not be announced until after a grievance hearings that are likely to take place.
That could create a timeline in which suspensions come late in this season and carry over into the next, or perhaps don’t even begin until next season.
“When all the interviews are done, we will meet with the commissioner’s office and we’ll try to work something out,” Weiner said. “Our players that deserve suspensions we will try to cope with their suspensions. Our players that don’t deserve suspensions we will try to argue that they don’t deserve suspensions. And I hope we have success. We may not have success on every single player but I hope we have a fair amount of success.”
Baseball’s drug policy calls for 50-game bans for violations of the drug policy and 100-game bans for second offenses, but Weiner confirmed that MLB was entitled to depart from those guidelines in the case of non-analytical positives – guilt based on evidence other than laboratory tests of urine or blood samples.
The league’s drug policy protects the identities of accused players until the arbitration process is complete, but in the Biogenesis scandal, where athletes’ names have been circulated in the media, MLB may announce the discipline immediately.
As the Daily News has reported, at least 10 players, including Rodriguez and Brewers star Ryan Braun, have refused to answer questions that MLB’s investigators have put to them about Biogenesis and its proprietor, Anthony Bosch.
Weiner says the so-called “Jenkins Rule” entitles players to refuse to answer the league’s questions, though the league may see things differently and seek to apply stricter punishment to the players that haven’t cooperated.
- Baseball union boss talks succession plan, Biogenesis (nydailynews.com)
- MLB drug suspensions may not be served till 2014 (cbssports.com)
- Biogenesis Suspensions May Wait Until 2014 (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- Union says drug bans likely not served this year (bnd.com)
- Nelson Cruz unlikely to be suspended this season (sportsblogs.star-telegram.com)
- MLBPA: Drug bans likely won’t be served in ’13 (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Weiner: the 50-100-lifetime suspension rules don’t apply to Biogenesis (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Bud Selig says baseball ‘cleaner than it has ever been,’ though Biogenesis probe suggests otherwise. (chronicralph.wordpress.com)
- Union director speaks out against Biogenesis leaks (jsonline.com)
- Biogenesis suspensions could be delayed until 2014 by union (jsonline.com)