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Yankees' Rodriguez drops lawsuits against MLB

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez on Friday abandoned a legal challenge to his record suspension for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, according to court filings.

In documents filed in Manhattan federal court, Rodriguez's lawyers informed the court that he had dropped two lawsuits against Major League Baseball (MLB), one challenging an arbitrator's decision to suspend him for the 2014 season and one accusing baseball investigators of unethical behavior.

The papers did not offer an explanation.

The filings likely mean that the Yankees third baseman will sit out the entire 2014 season.

Rodriguez's attorney, Joe Tacopina, told Reuters on Friday that Rodriguez would not attend Spring Training with the Yankees.

Tacopina declined further comment.

"The statements that were issued say everything that needs to be said," he said in an email.

The players' union, which Rodriguez also had targeted in court for failing to provide him adequate representation, issued a statement praising the slugger for doing "the right thing".

In one lawsuit, Rodriguez claimed that arbitrator Frederic Horowitz showed "blatant partiality" toward MLB when he suspended Rodriguez last month for 162 games, or the entire 2014 season, costing him $25 million in salary.

That suspension, the longest ban related to alleged doping in baseball history, was reduced from the 211 games the league had originally handed down.

Major League Baseball had accused Rodriguez of obtaining testosterone, insulin growth factor and human growth hormone from 2010 to 2012 from Anthony Bosch, the owner of a now-defunct Miami anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis.

Rodriguez had filed a separate lawsuit last year accusing MLB investigators of intimidating witnesses and buying evidence.

'DECK STACKED'

After Horowitz on January 11 rejected the All-Star third baseman's appeal, a defiant Rodriguez said he would take the fight to clear his name all the way to federal court, saying "the deck has been stacked against me from day one".

A league statement on Friday said it had been informed that Rodriguez had "reached the prudent decision to end all of the litigation related to the Biogenesis matter".

MLB added: "We believe that Mr. Rodriguez's actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League Players. We share that desire."

Thirteen other players were suspended for their alleged ties to Biogenesis, with 12 agreeing to 50-game suspensions, and Milwaukee Brewers' slugger Ryan Braun, a former National League Most Valuable Player, accepting a 65-game ban.

Baseball's rules call for a 50-game ban for first-time offenders, but MLB lengthened Rodriguez's suspension for allegedly using drugs over several years and interfering with the investigation.

The 38-year-old Yankee, known as A-Rod, is fifth on baseball's all-time home run list with 654 and was once expected to challenge Barry Bonds' record of 762. Bonds has also repeatedly been linked to doping.

Yankees official said they "do not anticipate having a statement" in response to Friday's developments.

(Additional reporting by Nate Raymond, Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles and Larry Fine in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish/Amanda Kwan/Gene Cherry)

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