MLB Drops Alfonzo’s Existing PED Suspension

According to a baseball source, Major League Baseball has dropped the 100-game suspension levied against Eliezer Alfonzo last season due to the same procedural issues that surfaced during the Ryan Braun case over the offseason.

The specific procedural issues were yet again not specifically outlined in this report, but the important aspect to note is that this was not an appeal case that Alfonzo and his team won. This suspension was not brought before an arbitrator. Instead, Major League Baseball re-examined the procedural facts of the sample collection and simply dropped the suspension.

Alfonzo is a fringe major league player with only 624 plate appearances over six big league seasons. He owns a career .273 wOBA and has recorded a negative WAR in three of his six stints in the majors. The overall impact of this decision on the legacy of Eliezer Alfonzo is minuscule. The 33-year-old catcher may never see another inning with a big league club, especially since the Colorado Rockies already have their wily, veteran catcher in 35-year-old Ramon Hernandez.

This decision to drop Alfonzo’s suspension, however, affects the legitimacy of the appeal won by Ryan Braun over the winter. The procedural deficiencies that were identified during the Braun appeal have clearly been deemed important enough to affect current suspensions without any hearing whatsoever. Thus, the notion that these procedural issues can be written off as a mere technicality and ignored in the public consciousness seems to be more misguided now than ever before.

A little more than 20% into the 2012 season, we see no evidence that Ryan Braun’s numbers from 2011 were abnormal, even if one clings to his purported performance-enhancing drug usage. His wOBA during his MVP campaign in 2011 was .433. His wOBA through 32 games in 2012 is .433. Not to mention, his current .331 ISO is the highest of his six-year career.

Braun continues to endure a chorus of boos in every stadium to which the Brewers travel this year. He is largely seen as a glistening example of a guilty celebrity who got off on a technicality due to shrewd lawyering. The dropping of the Alfonzo suspension suggests, though, that the procedural errors were not insignificant. In fact, they were grounds to retroactively nullify an existing suspension.

This, of course, does not mean that Ryan Braun is innocent. He very well could have taken performance-enhancing drugs. This development with Eliezer Alfonzo, however, continues to highlight the fact that we do not know if Braun used performance-enhancing drugs. Legitimate issues with the testing existed. That should not even be a point of contention any longer. An existing suspension would not have been dropped if the procedural issues were not significant.

And at this point, arguing against the procedural issues and trumpeting the unequivocal guilt of Ryan Braun (and now Eliezer Alfonzo) seems unnecessarily hard-headed.




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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).

76 Responses to “MLB Drops Alfonzo’s Existing PED Suspension”

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  1. Mark says:

    I’m not sure that MLB’s decision to drop the decision means anything more than its recognition that it would lose the appeal. Assuming the Alfonzo and Braun cases are similar, it’s improbable that an arbitrator would issue a different decision in a subsequent case. The rule of decision–even if mistaken–has already been created. The arbitrator wouldn’t just arbitrarily reverse course, even if MLB has a good argument, absent very unusual circumstances.

    Litigants generally don’t like fighting battles they can’t win. MLB’s decision reflects no more than that.

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    • Evan says:

      It reflects a need in the MLB to tighten chain of custody of their drug testing samples so they aren’t likely to lose another appeal.

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    • Skob says:

      Yeah, I agree. The author makes a point to state this was not an appeal case verdict, but who cares? The appeal was filed and MLB knew they were screwed if this went to an arbitrator. Seems pretty basic.

      If MLB lifted the ban without Alfonzo even filing an appeal, that would be a story!

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      • J.P. Breen says:

        To the best of my knowledge, PED suspensions are not levied until the player has a chance to appeal the case. Thus, Alfonzo should have already filed his appeal, and his 100-game suspension would have suggested that he lost his appeal last season.

        Also, to the best of my knowledge, players are not allowed to appeal a case for a second time, which would make the Alonzo case even more interesting, unless the MLB was worried about the case going to the court system and not an independent arbitrator.

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      • walt526 says:

        J.P., for the first PED offense (i.e., a 50 game suspension) the suspension doesn’t start until the player has exhausted the appeal process. For a second offense (i.e., a 100 game suspension), the player must start serving the suspension immediately and the appeal process procedes concurrent with the suspension. Many of the press reports a few weeks ago on Guillermo Mota highlighted this fact.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He’s only “reporting” on the story and throwing out his opinion (as a Brewers’ fan) of what it means. How dare you insinuate that he should have done some actual research into the process before publishing a piece on Fangraphs?

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      • J.P. Breen says:

        Thank you for the information, walt526. Mistakenly assumed the appeal process for positive tests remained consistent no matter the suspension or previous transgressions. Appreciate the correction.

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    • chuckb says:

      It may also be an outcome they chose out of fairness. It’s difficult to morally justify punishing Alfonzo and not Braun when the circumstances are so similar. The point is, I don’t think anyone really knows why Alfonzo’s suspension was dropped. It might be that MLB recognizes that their chain of custody issues are substantial and legitimate or it might be that they knew they would lose the appeal and wanted it to disappear quietly. Or it might be they just decided to act fairly with regard to Alfonzo and fix their problems and start over.

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    • Tim says:

      I don’t buy this argument. Even if the chances of getting a ruling in conflict with the Braun precedent are remote, the benefit for MLB would be huge. They desperately want to not have to live with that precedent forever, and it’s not like the legal fees are a significant expense for them. To me this decision says that there’s so much legitimate evidentiary reason to drop the Alonzo case that bringing it before a different arbitrator has essentially no chance of success.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        The benefit wouldn’t be that huge because MLB and the MLBPA are in the process or rewriting the relevant part of the drug testing agreement in order to tighten up the language. As soon as that happens, any precedent based on the previous language is irrelevant.

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  2. Eminor3rd says:

    “He is largely seen as a glistening example of a guilty celebrity who got off on a technicality due to shrewd lawyering.”

    As far as I can tell from everything I read, that is EXACTLY what happened. Alfonzo’s example doesn’t mean the MLB thinks the tests were screwed up, it just means they are avoiding further litigation they would certainly lose because of the precedent that Braun set.

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    • Ed says:

      You read wrong. The screwup in procedure means the test results are meaningless.

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      • Jason H says:

        If the results were actually meaningless we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The results are not meaningless.

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      • Ed says:

        We’re having this discussion because most people don’t understand basic science.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Basic science that says it is in fact impossible for exogenous testosterone to magically appear in a urine sample without the person providing the sample having received that exogenous testosterone from an exogenous source?

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      • J.P. Breen says:

        And yet Braun’s defense team was reportedly able to replicate results, which yet again leaves us with more questions than answers.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        The only thing anyone has ever mentioned them replicating is the T:E ratio test, which has nothing to do with exogenous testosterone or anything I just said.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        But hey, feel free to keep embarrassing yourself and Fangraphs if you want. That’s what being a homer is all about.

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      • Jason H says:

        Ed,

        I understand science pretty well. I understand it well enough to know that Braun’s sample twice tested positive for elevated testosterone. I understand science well enough to know that the likelihood of there being two independent false positive tests is negligibly low. This means that Braun’s sample, without doubt, had elevated testosterone. I understand science well enough to know that the most parsimonious explanation for how the excess testosterone got in there was through Braun’s deliberate PED use. In fact, I understand science well enough to know that PED use, here, is the null hypothesis. We should all accept that Braun is a PED user until someone can provide evidence that someone besides Braun added testosterone to the sample sometime after it was excreted by Braun. ….good luck with that.

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      • monkey business says:

        The IOC testing officials said that they would not have overturned the results. The basic reason is that the MLB standard is that there is an anomaly with the test -> throw the results out, the IOC standard is that there is an anomaly that might have resulted in a false positive.

        You see why fans might not believe that he is clean.

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      • Llewdor says:

        I don’t see why the fans care. Under MLB’s rules, Braun did nothing wrong. As such, there is no justification for demonising him.

        We have an accepted standard of what constitutes cheating. No other standard is relevant.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        No, under MLB’s rules he DID do something wrong. An independent arbiter ruled that the procedure that the MLB had (reportedly) always been following left room for doubt in Braun’s case, essentially because delivery fell on a weekend.

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      • Ed says:

        Jason,

        The first thing to remember on any procedure is “Garbage in, garbage out.” If you provide bad input, the output means nothing.

        The issue here is sample handling. Organic compounds often degrade quickly. The sample handling rules exist to ensure the sample is processed before degradation can begin. One the sample begins degrading, all tests results are invalid.

        We’re heard many different versions of how the sample was handled – stored in the collector’s den, basement, closet, refrigerator, and probably more I’m forgetting. We don’t know exactly what he did, other than that he didn’t follow the rules, calling it into question.

        The big key to remember here is how the second part of the test works. It’s not a magic test that can determine exactly what compound he took. It’s relying on the fact that synthetic testosterone is significantly heavier than natural body chemicals. The test is simply looking to see if there’s a heavier chemical in the sample. The big problem here is that if the sample was mishandled and started to degrade, the relative weights of the molecule in the sample are meaningless. You may have a relatively heavy molecule because it’s a synthetic drug, or because a lot of other molecules have already broken down into smaller ones. You can’t figure that out – at least not with a reasonable budget.

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      • monkey business says:

        “all tests results are invalid” again, the IOC testing director says that the deviations from the procedure would not have violated their rules because it would not have changed the results. It is only the MLB, any deviations from standard that allowed the case to be overturned.

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      • Synovia says:

        The results were fully legal, and would hold up in a court of law.

        They just don’t hold up in MLB, because the wording in MLB’s policy is ambiguous. They’re most certainly meaningful.

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      • mike says:

        The results have exactly as much meaning as the reader assigns to them. MLB has decided, through an appeal process, to throw the sample out.

        Calling someone an idiot is, itself, an idiotic thing to do. Your perception of this one action has led you to judge this person’s intelligence level. But who writes for the internet site that you love to read and who leaves hatemail comments?

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Mike, the sky is blue, if MLB throws out evidence that the sky is blue, the sky is still blue. It doesn’t matter what value the ” reader assigns” to any test of sky and blue, the sky is blue.

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  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

    Since little evidence exists to show that using PEDs actually E’s P (thus the frequent use of quotation marks on this very site) I would not consider consistent performance from Braun to be evidence that he did not use.

    I think both MLB and the MLBPA are doing a disservice to the players and themselves by not releasing more detail. The information available to the public leads people to believe that Braun (and probably Alfonso) are guilty. In the absence of any additional information, that perception will probably hold firm.

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  4. Jason H says:

    This column strikes me as unnecessarily hard-headed. Braun failed a drug test and got off on a technicality. The fact that other players also failed drug tests and got off on the same technicality does not magically mean that Braun never used PED. You may want it to mean that, but it doesn’t.

    Also, if Alfonzo has a 100 game suspension, he must have twice failed drug tests, right? This puts Braun in the same category as a guy who twice failed drug tests.

    Braun is a drug cheat. Lots of baseball players are.

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    • Simon says:

      Excellent argument. Braun is in the same category as someone who failed two drugs tests now. OK, Jason H eats vegetables. Adolf Hitler ate vegetables. Jason H is in the same category as Adolf Hitler. See, easy.

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      • Matt says:

        Your logic is flawed. Testing positive on a ped test is an indicator of cheating.
        A better example: Jason H kills jews, adolf hitler kills jews. Adolf hitler is in the same category as jason h; although its likely that his acts can’t come close to the level of hitler.

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      • Jason H says:

        I am in the same category as Adolf Hitler if the category is “People who eat vegetables”. ….just like Ryan Braun and Alfonzo are both in the category “People who fail drug tests”.

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      • Simon says:

        But the category Braun is in is the tested positive once, but was found not guilty. He isn’t in any meaningful way in the same category as Alfonso.

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  5. Hunter fan says:

    Isn’t it wildly irresponsible to take one of the two possible motivations MLB might’ve had to drop this case (the evidence was either faulty, or the cases were similar enough MLB wanted to avoid litigation) and present only one side as if it was the truth, and draw conclusions from that assumption?

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      One of the dumbest articles I’ve seen on Fangraphs. Oh, and what a surprise, the author is a Brewer’s fan. Definitely not conflict of interest there. Can Fangraphs stick to what they do best (you know, analyzing baseball) and leaving news coverage to actual journalists? As FG brings in more and more writers, the quality of the writing continues to go further and further downhill.

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      • J.P. Breen says:

        Being a Brewers fan has nothing to do with it. I have never once claimed that Ryan Braun is innocent. I have simply stated that he may be innocent. He may also be guilty. We don’t know, and claiming otherwise is ridiculous.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Then you could say the same thing about any athlete that has ever tested positive. Unless you believe the tester manipulated Braun’s sample despite the difficulty in doing so and the intact tamper proof seals, the only alternative is that he used (perhaps unknowingly). IRMS tests are very sophisticated things and they compare the results to similar results from (I believe) cholesterol in order to rule out the possibility that the ratio is due to natural or dietary reasons.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        And do you really expect us to believe being a Brewers fan has nothing to do with the ridiculously slanted article you wrote? I guess I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that was the cause and an inability to use logical reasoning. I mean you immediately assume the pro-Braun position without even considering the fact that MLB is doing this because it is the right thing to do based on the arbiters decision in the Braun appeal.

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      • Jason H says:

        J.P. Breen,

        You write: ” I have simply stated that he may be innocent. He may also be guilty. We don’t know, and claiming otherwise is ridiculous.”

        This is not correct. It is not equally likely that Braun is innocent or guilty. In fact it is overwhelmingly more likely that Braun used PED. There is no simple explanation for why Braun’s sample twice independently tested dirty besides that he was juicing. While it is true that we don’t know for sure that he is guilty, throwing your hands up and saying we dont know anything is ridiculous. All the evidence points to Braun being dirty, so the burden is on him to provide some evidence that he is clean (he seems to have little interest in doing so). Everyone should accept Braun as a steroid user until evidence is provided to explain why his sample was dirty.

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      • Llewdor says:

        What to you mean by “dirty”? All the evidence points to Braun not having violated MLB’s rules. Therefore, he is not cheating. Therefore, there is no reason at all to call him a dirty player.

        You’re applying some arbitrary standard of behaviour that, at best, has been superceded by actual rules governing PEDs, and at worst was never relevant at all.

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      • Jason H says:

        “What to you mean by “dirty”?”

        I mean he failed the drug test. He did. His suspension got tossed on a technicality that has nothing to do with the results of the test (which he failed).

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      • Gimme some dat Gold Bond please says:

        Agree completely. Literally one of the dumbest things I’ve read on this site. Either the author is a complete idiot with a failure to understand science, or his bias has utterly clouded his judgement.

        What he fails to understand is that there’s literally NO possible way Braun did not take PEDs. His positive test was even accompanied by negative controls (in the form of 2 other peoples samples being stored under the same conditions)….

        JP Breen–stick to your Brewer blog…your BIASED and non-intelligent thoughts have no place being on this site.

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      • I am a Red Sux Fan says:

        @JP- you certainly seem to be doing all you can to dispell the notion that Braun used by bringing up his wOBA and ISO this year.

        “A little more than 20% into the 2012 season, we see no evidence that Ryan Braun’s numbers from 2011 were abnormal, even if one clings to his purported performance-enhancing drug usage. His wOBA during his MVP campaign in 2011 was .433. His wOBA through 32 games in 2012 is .433. Not to mention, his current .331 ISO is the highest of his six-year career”

        What does this have to do with this article and how does this diminish the chances that he used last year. Fangraphs has manipulated the scientific process argument over and over again in order to exonerate Braun as much as possible. However he got off, I would say their is a pretty strong chance that his PED soaked Urine flipped the test. The IOC would have suspended him. And this wole thing with the courier or his son messing with the test is hogwash. Why is the couriers son driving Braun around. It would seem to me that the courier could have broke the chain of command issue on purpose because his son gets a meal ticket from Braun. Do I know that Braun used PEDS for sure, No. But common sense makes me think he likely did.

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  6. West says:

    They run a real tight ship……. the MLB is a joke.

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  7. I am a Red Sux Fan says:

    The only thing this case has to do with the Ryan Braun case is that both tests were thrown out due to a chain of custody issue. The Alfonso case does nothing to change the perception of whether Braun used or not. Braun’s ISO and wOBA have nothing to do with anything. They certainly do not suggest that he must not have used PED’s last year. I have no idea whether Braun used or not but since MLB could not prove he did, I’ll continue to work under the assumption he did nothing wrong. I’m simply no more convinced of anything today than I was prior to the Alfonzo system.

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  8. Joey says:

    “A little more than 20% into the 2012 season, we see no evidence that Ryan Braun’s numbers from 2011 were abnormal, even if one clings to his purported performance-enhancing drug usage”.

    No evidence other than the leaked positive test from last year and the massive media frenzy over his taking PEDs? Or the non-stop character assassination against the sample collector? Or the fact that Braun’s lawyers have no explanation for synthetic testosterone ending up in his body? Or that almost any drug scientists from BALCO to the Olympics to even multiple players in MLB and NFL had no problem with the sample collector or his procedures?

    It’s one thing to accuse a guy who puts up big numbers of being on PEDs. Jeff Bagwell is probably the best example of a guy who was never really linked to PEDs directly but is guilty by association due to playing in the steroid era. If a guy sees a spike in his numbers and takes away a Cy Young or MVP and people say “that guy did roids” then it might be alright to say that the only evidence is a spike in numbers and people are making assumptions. But if a guy wins an MVP or Cy Young and in the same year has a positive test for PEDs, then people can safely assume that he was using PEDs.

    And let’s be honest. Look at the Cy Young and MVP winners list from the last two decades or so. Eric Gagne, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Pudge Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Mo Vaughn, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi. And that’s just the winners. The 2nd-5th placers are just as dirty.

    So it’s not really out of the ordinary for people to assume that an MVP or Cy Young winner might be taking PEDs. Cross reference the MVP and Cy Young ballots with the Mitchell Report and Canseco’s books and your head will explode.

    “Braun continues to endure a chorus of boos in every stadium to which the Brewers travel this year. He is largely seen as a glistening example of a guilty celebrity who got off on a technicality due to shrewd lawyering”.

    Of course people are booing him on the road. When David Ortiz and Manny were named as PED users people at Fenway still cheered. But when Giambi got named he was booed like crazy at Fenway. People chanted “steroids” over and over. When A-Rod got caught with the blond stripper guys were handing out blond masks and wigs at the front gates. And when A-Rod screamed “aaah” at that popup the Fenway fans screamed in unison anytime he fielded a ball in the air.

    Fans love to give it to the away team. And they’ll root for their own players even if they do PEDs. Barry Bonds was cheered at home after Game of Shadows came out. Andy Pettitte, fresh off of a steroids courtroom appearance, was cheered loudly quite recently at home in NYC. The fans usually care about wins and losses. If a guy goes golfing one day and throws a complete game shutout the fans will cheer. If a guy goes golfing one day and throws two plus innings with seven earned then he’ll get booed (or golf clapped?).

    Maybe if Braun had actually been suspended they might have given him the Earplugs Palmeiro treatment at home. But it seems like most fans at the park don’t care if their own team has PED users. Every team has them. “It’s all in the game” to quote The Wire. If Braun hits a homerun they’ll cheer at home. If his numbers were terrible he’d likely hear it from the home crowd.

    “The dropping of the Alfonzo suspension suggests, though, that the procedural errors were not insignificant. In fact, they were grounds to retroactively nullify an existing suspension”.

    Not really. It suggests that MLB’s whitewashing of the Braun incident is now spilling over into other player’s positive suspensions. When two time losers are failing tests and using the Ryan Braun defense it doesn’t reflect well on MLB or Braun.

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  9. BT says:

    MLB has reportedly fired Shayam Das. I’m sure this, in some way, also proves Braun’s innocence.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7929521/report-mlb-fires-shyam-das-arbitrator-milwaukee-brewers-ryan-braun-case

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  10. Mike says:

    If Braun’s test results were indeed many times higher than the highest ever recorded, then the real question is, Why was that result not immediately thrown out? They should have tossed the result as a lab screw up and retested him.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Because they weren’t. They weren’t even twice the cutoff level and were less than 1/10 the level that have been recorded in bodybuilders.

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  11. Gimme some dat Gold Bond please says:

    “This development with Eliezer Alfonzo, however, continues to highlight the fact that we do not know if Braun used performance-enhancing drugs.”

    3 tamper-proof seals (which Braun witnessed being sealed, and signed for confirming that he witnessed this). No scientist with any knowledge of the collection procedure having any problem with ANY of it. 2 other people’s samples taken at the same time as Braun and stored under the same conditions being negatives (A.K.A. negative controls in the scientific world). A world-renown lab in Montreal doing the testing and verifying that the tamper-proof seals are in tact. An A sample showing extremely elevated T:E ratios. A B sample put through GCMS (the gold standard nowadays–with infinitesimally low rates of false positives…False positives just can’t happen ) showing unequivocally that it was SYNTHETIC T—and yes, GCMS can determine if testosterone is synthetic or made by the human body (it’s that good).

    And yet, Braun decides to go after the little guy and blame this collector (who lives in Milwaukee, IIRC). Braun spews INCORRECT facts about his T:E being so much more than ever recorded (well Mr. Braun–Olympic officials have recorded levels as much 3 to 4 times higher than yours so..). Yes, he got off on a technicality. However, if the general population understood a bit more about science (and some of this is on scientists themselves for failing to make clear the precision of their work and their results), I don’t think any of this would happen. It’s a joke and, yes, Braun deserves the boos–not because he took steroids, but because his blame game after the fact was utterly despicable.

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  12. Bob says:

    The CBA is pretty clear: barring unforeseen circumstances, the sample must be mailed the same day. If only there was some device, that would allow me to communicate directly with my local FedEx office to determine when I could drop off a package and have it ship the same day… like a phone. The fact that this happened once let’s us know that, at a minimum, the collection agency didn’t read the requirements of the program. The fact that the exact same thing happened again let’s us know that no one involved – MLB, MLBPA, testing agency, or collection agencies – care enough to actually close the “loophole”.

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    • BT says:

      Bob, I could be mistaken, as I haven’t followed this as closely as some, but under the “changes” to the collection procedures that have resulted since Das’s decision, wouldn’t the collector follow the EXACT same procedure that he followed in Braun’s case if he were to run into the same situation again today? The only difference now is that it is more clearly spelled out in the collection procedure. In other words, there was nothing wrong with what he collector did, there was simply something wrong with how it was worded in the agreement. That’s no longer the case.

      Again, I could be wrong.

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      • Bob says:

        From what I have been able to gather, the Braun case centered on two items. The first was the time period between when the sample was taken and when it was delivered to FedEx. The second was whether or not the sample was refrigerated (I’ve seen conflicting reports, and it makes a HUGE difference between the collector following proper proceedure and not following proper proceedure). Both of these should be easy to fix.

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      • Gimme some dat Gold Bond please says:

        Based on the collector’s statement, while there were many FedEx’s within 5 miles of Miller Park (as Braun mentioned in his statement), NONE within 50 miles would have shipped them that day (Sat) or the next day. According to CDT protocol (the collection agency that he works for and handles thousands of these samples), under those circumstances the collector should keep the samples until they can be shipped (under the assumption that the samples are in safer hands and stored more properly under the collectors watch than sitting in a FedEx facility for several days). This same protocol has been followed numerous times since it went into place in 2005. 2 other samples from other people, collected at the same time as Braun, were handled in the exact same way, and NONE turned up positive. The collector brought the samples to FedEx on Monday and they arrived in Montreal on Tuesday…the rest we all know.

        Now, let’s say the sample was left at room temp for the weekend (or hell, let’s say he kept it in a sauna at 100 F). THAT could cause elevated T/E ratios determined by GC/MS. HOWEVER, elevated T/E ratios is not a positive result, and only flags the sample for further testing. The sample is then put through IRMS testing which measures the ratio carbon isotopes in the sample. As synthetic testosterone will have different ratios, this test can confirm that the testosterone is indeed synthetic.

        And finally, the former director of the Olympic testing facility at UCLA Don Catlin has said that he knows of no way that any sample can miraculously develop endogenous T.

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    • pft says:

      “If only there was some device, that would allow me to communicate directly with my local FedEx office to determine when I could drop off a package and have it ship the same day… like a phone. ”

      The collector did check, and found out that it would not ship until Monday even if he dropped it off on Saturday, since the last flight had left. Under the rules of the collecting agency hired by MLB/MLBPA, the collector is required to keep the sample rather than leaving it in a Fed Ex storage facility over the weekend. This collector also handles DOJ collections and follows the same procedures.

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      • Bob says:

        The FedEx shipping policy is the same, every single week. You would think after all the Braun media frenzy, that this issue would have been resolved. You would also think wrong.

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  13. TK says:

    Seriously, this article is an embarrassment.

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  14. JayTeam says:

    The appeals won not because of science, degradation, tampering or mishandling but because of a poorly worded CBA. Proper handling of samples at times contravenes the CBA. The samples in these cases were properly handled and contravened the CBA. Therefore the test results are invalid.Once the drug test agreement is rewritten to follow correct practice, these types of situations will not reoccur.

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  15. Gimme some dat Gold Bond please says:

    May I reiterate to all Braun-believers that Don Catlin (former director of the Olympic lab at UCLA) has said that he knows of no possible way endogenous T can show up in a sealed sample—-yes, even if kept at room temp (or for that matter, at 100 C)

    IRMS testing is irrefutable, folks.

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    • Bob says:

      The question isn’t about exogenous (not endogenous) testosterone spontaniously generating in a sealed container. The question is about how the various testosterone compounds break down in relation to eachother. Even the IRMS measures ratios and not abosulute values.

      If you believe the Clinical StaLaboratory Standards Institue, a sample that isn’t tested within two hours needs to be preserved – by either refrigeration or chemical preservative. A sample left at room temperature (without chemical preservative added to it) would not be acceptable for testing purposes.

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      • Gimme some dat gold bond please says:

        Bob,

        First, Let me correct myself. Catlin (A.K.A. the “father” of performance enhancing drug testing) stated that he knows of NO WAY that a sample could develop EXOGENOUS T (clearly, although I previously wrote endogenous, exogenous is what I meant).

        And no, urine degradation can not cause false CIR (isotopes of carbon test). According to Piper et al (Degradation of urine samples and its influence on the 13C/12C ratios of excreted steroids 2010), they conclude, “Regarding
        glucuronidated steroidswhich are used in doping control analysis,
        no significant influence on CIR during the first weeks of the
        study could be detected…”

        Given that the samples were stored for 44 hrs, and that Braun’s sample was stored with 2 other samples in the same conditions/temperature (which turned up negative), it’s hard for me to say anything but that this was a valid test.

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      • Bob says:

        I agreed with you that there is no way for exogenous testosterone to spontaneously generate within a sealed container. Rewriting it again doesn’t make me agree any less.

        And yet the CLSI consensus based testing standard indicates that the sample would be unfit for testing. Even Catlin agrees that an unrefrigerated sample would have started to break down over the time period in question – which would render it unfit for testing. Once it is unfit for testing, it is unfit for testing. It doesn’t really matter what test you want to run at that point – the scientific process has not been followed properly and therefore the results are not predictable.

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      • Gimme some dat gold bond please says:

        Bob, No. The results ARE reliable…you can argue scientific process etc. etc BUT, as the paper I referenced proved, degradation of the sample that occurs over 4 weeks (let alone degradation over 44 hrs) CAN NOT result in unreliable results.

        Degradation CAN affect the T/E ratios. But regarding isotope ratios (C13/C12) measured through IRMS, degradation will not alter these (for good reasons that are outside the scope of this argument).

        As a result, degradation is NOT, CAN NOT, be the result of him testing positive for exogenous T.

        Braun took PED, got caught taking PED, got off on what is, undoubtedly, a technicality, and then proceeded to blame the collector etc for something that is HIS fault (even if he unknowingly took PED…which only he himself knows).

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  16. pft says:

    Fan Graphs has 0 objectivity on this issue.

    That said, it should be noted the collectors hired by MLB/MLBPA followed the same procedures they use for the DOJ (which differs slightly from the CBA).

    Braun got off on a technicality, and now so has Alfonzo (a repeat offender).

    The CIR test would not be affected by storage time, since even if the chemicals degrade (minimal given the time and temperatures), the C13/C12 ratio would not be affected.

    Until the rules are rewritten, or they can get the collectors to follow the arbitrary CBA rules, players get a free pass since any new arbitrator will respect the previous arbitrators decision.

    I think it’s time Congress took over the testing program. I think the MLB test program is a farce and that steroid use is still rampant. Players are bigger than ever, HR’s are as long, and pitchers are throwing 100 mph.

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    • Bob says:

      Why should congress insert themselves into a privately owned an operated business? There is no national security risk involved here.

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    • Geoff says:

      “I think it’s time Congress took over the testing program. I think the MLB test program is a farce and that steroid use is still rampant. Players are bigger than ever, HR’s are as long, and pitchers are throwing 100 mph.”

      Evolution?

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    • Skob says:

      100 MPH… who does that without roids? Yeah, I think it’s probably a good bet that Verlander, Strasberg, and Chapman are all steroid users. Those guys are all huge, right?

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      • Gimme some dat gold bond please says:

        LOL. If he’s not huge, he can’t be taking PEDs…RIGHT?!

        Not saying any of these guys you mentioned are….but the size of your arms is not indicative of using PED or not, especially in today’s age when if you use PED, it’s probably in your best interest to limit mass gain.

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  17. Simon says:

    I wonder if someone who knows all about exactly why Braun was acquitted and all the details of the technicality could link me to the full verdict. What’s that, you can’t – you’re only going on the ever truthful media reporting. Surely not.

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    • TK says:

      There is no court or arbiter’s decision that says the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, but reasonable people overwhelmingly believe they did. Could it have been an elaborate hoax? Sure, and Braun could have not used PEDs last year, too.

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    • JayTeam says:

      People are trying to make it more complicated than it is, of course without the facts.
      Fact: if you actually read the pertinent section of the CBA (which few have) it states once the samples are collected they are to be taken to FedEx for shipment.
      Fact: Although FedEx locations in the area were open, they did not ship on weekends. The samples would have sat from Saturday till Monday in an uncontrolled environment.
      Fact: For other sports, the accepted practice is for the collector to maintain control of the samples till Monday to ensure a controlled environment for the samples. This is Company policy and what the collector says he did.
      Fact: This contravenes MLB’s CBA.

      With these facts, it’s not hard to see why the arbitrator was correct in upholding the appeal.

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      • Gimme some dat gold bond please says:

        A.K.A— he got off (right or wrong) on a technicality. But that still doesn’t change that fact that he took PED and then proceeded to slam everyone, but himself, for his positive result.

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  18. Bill says:

    After this article was published parts of the story came out that kind of ruined the premise. Turns out that since Alfonzo’s was a second offense his suspension was announced and began immediately rather than after an appeal. Alfonzo’s suspension was appealed, but it wasn’t until after the start of this season when he had already served a portion of the suspension. Actually looks like his team saw the Braun defense and decided to give it a shot of their own. The basis of a lot of articles I’ve seen like this is that the league went back and decided to throw this result out on their own, which isn’t the case. Don’t see how it would change the perception of the Braun case at all.

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    • Bob says:

      It shouldn’t reflect on the Braun case. It should reflect on everyone invloved (MLB, MLBPA, testing agency, and collection agencies) and their failure to address a problem with their program.

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  19. I am a Red Sux Fan says:

    JP Breen suffers from homer naievete and delusion. Say it aint so Ryan, Say it aint so.

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  20. BryanMichael says:

    like Sara said I’m impressed that a person able to get paid $9901 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you see this web page (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/oTw2G

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