Alex Rodriguez vowed Monday to fight his suspension by Major League Baseball and said he would play during his appeal, after the league banned him from playing for 211 games for using performance-enhancing drugs.

The suspension was to begin Thursday and continue until the end of the 2014 season.

“The last seven months have been a nightmare,” Rodriguez told reporters. “Probably the worst time of my life, for sure.”

When asked by a reporter if he would directly deny doping, he said there was a “process” he needed to follow and looked forward to a time when he could clear his name.

Rodriguez was among 13 players suspended Monday, as the league enforces its antidoping rules and investigates the Biogenesis clinic.

The 12 other players have accepted 50-game suspensions without pay.

The suspensions are effective immediately, according to a statement from MLB. Unlike Rodriguez, none of the 12 other suspended players will launch an appeal, and they will be eligible to return for the post-season.

The players who accepted their suspensions are:

  • Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz
  • San Diego Padres infielder Everth Cabrera and pitcher Fautino De Los Santos
  • Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta
  • New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez
  • Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo
  • Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero
  • New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello
  • Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona
  • Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto

The players join Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who accepted a 65-game suspension two weeks ago in relation to the Biogenesis investigation.

All 14 players were caught up in the league’s probe into the now-closed Biogenesis of America clinic in Florida. The probe began earlier this year after the Miami New Times published documents suggesting several players received banned performance-enhancing drugs from the facility.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said Monday that the league “vigorously pursued evidence” after the players were publicly linked to the clinic and the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

“Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do,” Selig said.

“For weeks, I have noted the many players throughout the game who have strongly voiced their support on this issue, and I thank them for it. I appreciate the unwavering support of our owners and club personnel, who share my ardent desire to address this situation appropriately.”

The league also said that Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal will not receive additional discipline after serving 50-game suspensions last year for testing positive for elevated testosterone.

The league also found no evidence that Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia violated the drug policy, although their names surfaced in news reports about the clinic.

The suspension meted out to Rodriguez, baseball’s highest paid player, covers 211 games beginning this Thursday. He has until then to formally launch an appeal, and will remain on the field until that process is complete.

While Rodriguez had previously acknowledged using PEDs when he played for the Rangers from 2001 to 2003, he has denied using them since that time.

MLB issued a separate statement explaining Rodriguez’s suspension, saying it covered violations of both the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the labour contract.

“Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years,” the league’s statement said.

“Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation.”

The league’s drug program stipulates that an appeal hearing must start no later than 20 days after an appeal is filed and the arbitrator must render a decision 25 days after hearings begin. That schedule can be changed if the players’ union and league management agree.

The MLB Players Association issued a statement after the suspensions were handed down, saying “the accepted suspensions announced today are consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement,” and were arrived at after lengthy discussions between the concerned parties.

“For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension,” MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said. “We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously.”

A handful of the suspended players also issued statements on Monday.

Cruz blamed his actions on a gastrointestinal infection, which he said caused him to lose 40 pounds after the 2011 season.

"I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error," Cruz said. "I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse."

In a separate statement, Peralta said that in spring 2012, “I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret." He apologized to his teammates and "the great fans in Detroit," and said he let "many good people down."