Alex RodriguezIf this isn’t protecting “the integrity of, or the maintenance of public confidence in, the game of baseball,” not much would be.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig is moving to use a remote clause in the MLB collective bargaining agreement that includes that phrasing to try to keep Alex Rodriguez from returning to baseball, the New York Daily News reports.

Rodriguez, who is working his way back from offseason hip surgery, has been at the center of suspension rumors for some time. He has been linked to the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida that is said to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to several MLB players. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun was suspended last week, reportedly in connection to the same clinic, and Rodriguez’s punishment is expected to be far heavier, especially since Rodriguez is being accused of impeding MLB’s investigation into the clinic.

Now, the Daily News reports that Selig isn’t messing around — if MLB moves to take down Rodriguez, it will try to do so in a way that will keep him from returning to the game. Not only is a lifetime ban being talked about, but MLB will also try to get Rodriguez on a collective bargaining detail, rather than a drug suspension, to keep him from appealing, according to reports.

But Selig appears to be ready to take it one step even further. He is prepared to use Article XI, Section A1b of the collective bargaining agreement “to effectively keep Rodriguez from ever returning to the field by bypassing the grievance procedure outlined in the joint drug program [that] MLB operates in conjunction with the Players’ Association,” according to the Daily News.

Rodriguez would be suspended immediately for violating the “integrity of the game” and would later get a suspension for violating the drug program, according to the report. Rodriguez’s “integrity of the game” suspension would be tied to his interfering with the MLB investigation into Biogenesis, during which Rodriguez has been accused of intimidating witnesses and buying documents that incriminated him, rather than letting them fall into the hands of investigators.

The Daily News also says Rodriguez and the 14 other players being investigated are going to be suspended “imminently.”

If Selig does use the “integrity of the game” approach, MLB and Rodriguez could get caught in a legal battle, with Rodriguez’s camp challenging Selig and the collective bargaining agreement. But if MLB’s evidence is strong, it could spell a swifter end to the latest steroid storm. Selig would basically be moving past the grievance and arbitration process and ruling on appeals or challenges himself.

Earlier reports indicated that MLB is willing to offer a lighter suspension — rather than a lifetime ban — if Rodriguez cooperates. Rodriguez has four years and $80 million left on his contract after this season that he would lose if suspended.

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