Ryan Braun and Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias:

Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias, myside bias or verification bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs.

Confirmation bias is probably more prevalent among baseball fans than any other logical fallacy. We’ve all gone to a game and sat near the guy who booed when the manager brought in a mediocre reliever to try and preserve a lead, then watched the reliever implode and the loud angry fan tell everyone that “he knew” that guy was going to give up those runs. In reality, he didn’t actually know what was going to happen – since he’s really just a loud angry fan and not a fortune telling wizard – but the fact that events aligned to match his preconceived expectations led to a reinforced belief in his own prior opinion.

Since the news came out about Ryan Braun‘s overturned suspension, the internet seems to be full of loud angry fans. People who “know” that Ryan Braun used steroids and got off on a technicality. People who “know” that he’s a dirty cheat. They “know” a lot of things, because Ryan Braun hits home runs, and Ryan Braun failed one drug test, and people who hit home runs and fail drug tests are cheating muscle-head juicers.

This is the unfortunate power of confirmation bias. As humans, we often take incomplete bits of information and force them into a predetermined world view because they reinforce our current belief system, and we’re wired to want to be right about things. So, despite the fact that we’re often handed pieces of information that should fall far short of being the basis for a strong opinion, we take that information as evidence that the thing we already believed to be true is indeed true, and we fortify our opinions to the point where our conclusions far outstrip what actual evidence we have.

I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean. I have no idea if he used steroids or not, just like I have no idea if Roy Halladay has used steroids or whether Dee Gordon has used steroids. I’m just not in any position to have any kind of opinion on what they have or haven’t done. The limited information that has gotten out to the public doesn’t give us any kind of real basis for drawing conclusions. In reality, the only thing we can ascertain from the information we have is that Bruan may or may not have used, and there’s no real way for us to actually know.

There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”, and given the actual evidence that the public possesses, it’s the only fair thing we can say. We don’t know that Braun used or didn’t use. We don’t know much about the situation, honestly. Instead of letting the small amount of information we do have reinforce our currently held opinions about home run hitters and steroid use, let’s acknowledge that confirmation bias is a powerful force and avoid the temptation to make sweeping conclusions when the information we actually have doesn’t support that kind of strong position.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

253 Responses to “Ryan Braun and Confirmation Bias”

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  1. Jonathan says:

    I’m sorry can you expand a bit more on the confirmation bias here. In general you don’t see this when biological evidence was used (Ryan Braun’s sample). Really I guess what I am asking is what is being confirmed? The subjective views of whether he is guilty (which confirmation bias does apply to). Or the fact that a biologic sample has the highest testosterone levels recorded. The latter assertion would not apply to your nice writeup. The former assertion does however. The term is quite popular, and does get misused quite often.

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    • Ray says:

      The only reason you seem so sure that the test result wasn’t tainted is because you don’t want the test result to be tainted because you have a preconceived notion that it must be valid. See what you’re falling into here? What you want to know simply can’t be known and it is unhealthy to keep trying.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Eh, I’m not so sure if I agree with this. The problem is more of a cognitive bias used in behavioral economics. When you have a biological sample, confirmation would not apply. Unless the sample itself was doctored on purpose.

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      • redsoxu571 says:

        Actually, I’m pretty sure the result wasn’t tainted because it’s been made very clear that the samples (that’s plural) were sealed and the seals weren’t broken. Chain of custody wasn’t explicitly followed as outlined by MLB, but it wasn’t broken as explicitly outlined either…keeping the sample in a refrigerator was a bit of a grey area that forced the arbitrator to side with acquittal.

        I have no preference towards guilt or innocence with Braun…my preference is for the truth. I want to know if he did use banned substances, and I want to know if he didn’t…that’s the only confirmation bias I have. And right now, the evidence points very clearly to acquittal-by-technicality without anything to actually exonerate Braun.

        He didn’t have to use a technicality in order to fight the suspension…he had the option to question the test results themselves, rather than the chain of custody. The fact that he and his lawyers chose to fight based only on technicality strongly suggests that that was the only basis for acquittal, and therefore the evidence, as it currently stands, points to him being guilty in the spirit but not in the letter of the law. If he is willing to make some kind of effort to show innocence, I would be more than happy to reevaluate the situation.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        On one hand, we have Ryan Braun’s word that he didn’t take PED’s. On the other hand, we have the word of an anonymous courier that he didn’t contaminate or mishandle the sample over the weekend.

        Some people are going to believe the latter over the former, for whatever reason. But it hardly seems like enough evidence to ruin a guy’s career.

        And, redsoxu571, you don’t know whether Braun’s lawyers argued for acquittal based only on chain of evidence. And even if they did, that’s a tactical decision based on the fact that it was the easiest path the winning.

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      • Larry Yocum says:

        @Redsoxu571: But that is part of the problem, how do we know what evidence Braun’s team presented? The arbitrator threw out the case based on the technicality, but it might have also been the reports that the sample tested so high that swayed the decision. Maybe if the results were within previous normal high tests, the chain of custody would not have been enough for this decision. We just don’t know what Braun’s team presented or if the technicality was the sole reason for aquittal. There were lots of problems with this case from the start. The fact the proper chain of custody wasn’t followed may have been the easiest way out for the arbitrator when there were plenty of other issues with the case. We just don’t know.

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      • redsoxu571 says:

        Considering how clearly competent Braun’s defense team was (it is very impressive that they found this loophole in the first place), don’t you think they considered the public ramifications of this type of defense?
        I find it extremely hard to believe that they would pass on a course of defense that would actually exonerate Braun, and I find it equally hard to believe that he actually employed such a defense and we somehow haven’t heard about it (while hearing virtually all other details about the case).
        I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the successful appeal does NOT force the rest of us to pretend Braun’s sample never existed. Insisting upon 100% innocence until absolute proven guilt is the head-in-the-sand mindset that got us in this mess in the first place…

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      • E-Dub says:

        “I find it extremely hard to believe that they would pass on a course of defense that would actually exonerate Braun”

        Well, since this is real life rather than a courtroom drama, I don’t find it hard to believe at all. Exoneration is secondary to winning the appeal and ensuring Braun is not suspended. The battle over “innocence” is best fought in the court of public opinion, which is exactly what we’ve seen with the dueling press comments from Braun and MLB.

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      • bstar says:

        Yirmiyahu, we do know now at least part of what Braun’s defense team argued, from the Will Carroll interview. He asserts that the Braun defense team was able to take a normal urine sample, subject it to the same treatment that Braun’s sample was handled, and were able to produce a false positive test. Carroll also implies that the fact that MLB refused Braun’s request to DNA test whether or not that was his urine may have played a factor in the arbitrator;s decision.

        The biggest thing for me is that Braun passed a lie detector test. I know they are not 100% reliable, but neither is a drug test. Some estimates have the false positive rate of MLB’s testing at 10%. Wouldn’t the fact that he would have to be repeatedly lying through his teeth somehow show up on a lie detector test? Is he some trained CIA agent or terrorist who knows how to pass these tests? Of course not. So I believe Braun. Innocent until proven guilty, right? What the hell happened to that?

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    • jcxy says:

      I kind of agree with this. I don’t see this as a confirmation bias thing because, among other reasons, I don’t see the prevalence of deeply held belief that Ryan Braun cheated on the internets or otherwise where people have some invested stake in the outcome.

      I see the reaction to this as more of the very human reaction to someone “getting away with it”. Which, given the positive test and circumstances surrounding the dismissal, should be seen as a completely tenable position.

      As for your point about knowing vs not knowing. That’s completely fair. As Mr Pink reminds us…”I can say I definitely didn’t do it because I know what I did or didn’t do. But I cannot definitely say that about anybody else, ’cause I don’t definitely know.”

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      • Brian says:

        I don’t think your last two paragraphs work together. If you believe that it is okay to not know something. How can you also agree that it is a tenable position to believe he got away with it based on almost zero evidence.

        All we know is that he tested positive. Denied using. Fought. And won. We know nothing more than that.

        Dave’s post is actually explaining how uninformed and untenable it is to say “he got away with it”. It can in no way be inferred from the facts of the situation in my opinion.

        I keep going back to this explanation. If you were arrested for a murder you didn’t commit, but had no alibi, how would you choose to defend yourself?

        Would you use the fact that the arresting officers failed to Mirandize you to get off on a “technicality”?

        Or would you steadfastly fight to prove your innocence?

        I think we all know the answer. Getting off a technicality in no way equals guilt.

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      • michael says:

        There are many reasons most people believe that scientific outcomes are rigorous and unambiguous, and necessarily reproducible in every instance. Without getting into why many are mistaken, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s a urinalysis for anabolic steroids or screening for a tumor, there is some degree of uncertainty in every test, even if everything is handled and performed optimally. Something as simple as pissing on a stick for pregnancy comes with two samples per purchase, for good reason.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitivity_and_specificity
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostate_cancer_screening#Controversy

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      • michael says:

        There are many reasons most people believe that scientific outcomes are rigorous and unambiguous, and necessarily reproducible in every instance. Without getting into why many are mistaken, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s a urinalysis for anabolic steroids or screening for a tumor, there is some degree of uncertainty in every test, even if everything is handled and performed optimally. Something as simple as pissing on a stick for pregnancy comes with two samples per purchase, for good reason.

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      • jcxy says:

        I don’t agree at all that those paragraphs don’t complement one another.

        It’s important to remember that we really don’t *know* anything. For people shouting that they “know” stuff–when, really, they’re just conjecturing, Mr. Pink should be an important reminder. However, it’s also important to note that’s an impossible standard at times for many people, and they’re not wrong either.

        Take, for instance, if you were on a jury for a murder trial. I wouldn’t literally need to see the physical act committed to feel comfortable rendering a decision on someone’s guilt or non-guiltiness.

        I suspect a portion of people would disagree, on principle, with that approach. Does that make one of us right or wrong? I don’t think so.

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      • Bronnt says:

        If I were exonerated on a murder charge, Brian, I’d care much more about what the court says than what people on message boards say. I might be upset at the unfairness of it, but honestly, they’re entitled to their opinions, and don’t really affect me. Ryan Braun might end up meeting confrotational fans or hear hateful messages, since he’s a public figure, but as a professional athlete, he was likely already hearing it from rival fans anyway.

        In the end, Brian, since it doesn’t matter what we say, you might as well allow people to have their own opinions, instead of telling them what they don’t know.

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      • jcxy says:

        @michael

        we’ve known for a number of years that PSA results don’t mean what we hope they mean. we also “know” that the costs associated with certain breast cancer screenings for a certain demographic are unnecessary, but also potentially harmful/deadly/costly.

        that we continue to use them says more about our country’s unwillingness to accept most any “rationing” in health care more than our willingness to blindly accept the results of “scientific” tests.

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    • Wouldn’t the fact that its the highest level ever recorded make you suspicious that it can’t be right? Like when Bonds hit 73 HRs? That the mishandling of the sample tainted it and made it into something never seen before?

      Maybe I’m falling into distinction bias – the tendency to view two options as more dissimilar when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.

      Or maybe you’ve fallen into negativity bias– the tendency to pay more attention and give more weight to negative than positive experiences or other kinds of information.

      Maybe, because he’s on my roto team, I’m suffering from the endowment effect– tendency to overvalue what you have and undervalue what you don’t.

      Or, you’ve fallen for the clustering illusion – the tendency to see patterns where actually none exist- which has caused your irrational escalation – the phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong.

      We might’ve mutually found a bias blind spot – the tendency to think we don’t have these biases and to get all defensive about it.

      The point is, throwing pointy-headed scientistic labels at people you disagree with helps you conceive of them as mentally defective instead of merely disagreeable.

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      • Richie says:

        ++++++++++++++++

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      • Jonathan says:

        I’m sorry can you clarify this entire post. I’m not really sure what you are saying at all. Your throwing out a bunch of terms that at least in the literature (a) don’t tend to be grouped together, and (b) don’t tend to be applied in the setting that your describing. I just want to make sure I fully comprehend your argument before commenting on it.

        In fact are you even disagreeing with me or the original poster?

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      • Shane says:

        BALBONI; WOW. I never woulda guessed you had such a strong knowledge base on scientific procedure when you swattin dingbats and flailin at air back in the 80′s. All Joking aside yor comment raises a good point. I don’t think we should use intelect to just push this issue away

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      • Baltar says:

        Since the test result is the only evidence we have and the test is regarded as scientifically valid, I will go with that as my conclusion. After all, I’m not on a jury sending Braun to prison.
        As to the claim that the sample may have been tainted, I fail to see any rational argument for it. If it was tainted, it was either intentional or accidental. If intentional, who would do it and why? If accidental, how did some testosterone sneak into a sealed tube?
        Yes, I do “know” that Braun took testosterone, though “know” is not an absolute, but rather a sliding scale.

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      • glenstein says:

        I’m embarrassed for this community that Steve Balboni’s anti-intellectual comments pass for legitimate commentary.

        Unless you’re gung-ho about venturing into cognitive science denialism (and why would anyone be?), you need to accept that we have a vocabulary with legitimate explanatory purchase on human irrationality. Denying that is beneath serious discussion, and suggesting it’s bad to have the capacity for recognizing real-world instances of the same is ridiculous.

        The only thing that’s left is whether confirmation bias– a real thing –can correctly describe some of the reactions to Ryan Braun’s test and subsequent appeal. This seems to me to be definitely true- if you want me to go ahead and bring out the tweets, blog posts, and comments from reddit, sbnation and fangraphs in support of this point I can do it. But chances are you’ve read dozens of them yourself. Which means… drumroll…. Dave Cameron is right.

        Now I don’t mean to pick on Mr Balboni (the real one?) but I strongly object to this kind of “look-how-ironic-I’m-being” behavior on the internat in general. He saw Dave Cameron use a sciency-word and waved around more sciency-words in response, as if to reveal to us that the whole exercise of attempting to analyze it was futile. This is the helpless, anti-intellectual attitude people have had in response to statistics that SABR has been working to overturn for so long. But analysis is not futile, sometimes it’s even right, whether we’re dealing with baseball stats or cognitive biases.

        It’s a touchy subject, but as we’ve seen with Josh Hamilton and now Ryan Braun, a disturbingly large number of fans judge life events of players in extremely unfair ways. If I had it my way baseball fans would be talking MORE about congitive biases, not less.

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      • glenstein says:

        @Shane

        It’s not exactly “such a strong knowledge base on scientific procedure” it’s copy-pasting from the wiki page on cognitive biases. Nothing at all wrong with that, but it is what it is.

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      • @glenstein

        When a person lumps their disputants into a mental defectiveness category, they are not arguing the facts of the matter they are trying to set the matter beyond argument.

        There are many facts being reported on the Braun case that people can build arguments around, which is a fun and possibly good thing. There are lots of jargony insults that can be thrown around, which is a dull waste of time.

        And yes, I’m happy to report that I needed Wikipedia to educate me on jargon pointlessly invented by today’s cognitive navel-gazers for concepts noshed over by Greeks millennia ago.

        (I’m definitely not the real Steve Balboni, I just comment with his lumbering, swing and miss style).

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      • glenstein says:

        @Steve your description of confirmation bias as a “mental defectiveness category” is simply point-blank false and must be dismissed. All people have cognitive biases. They can correctly describe behavior and they do correctly describe a lot of reaction to the Ryan Braun events.

        Trying to act as if the entire vocabulary of cognitive psychology is either wrong or out of bounds because it sounds too sciency, is anti-intellectual and frankly just embarrassing.

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    • Frank says:

      In this case confirmation bias applies to fans talking on the internet with all the “facts” they “know.” For example, everyone knows that Braun got off because the arbiter decided the MLB didn’t follow protocol strictly enough and so his positive result is invalidated even though the mishandling wouldn’t affect the result. Except they don’t know that. They don’t know the arbiter, why he made his decision, or have access to any first hand facts of what happened with the sample.

      They also “know” that Braun failed his PED test and was shown conclusively to have synthetic testosterone in his system. Except they don’t know that. They know the collected sample of urine was reported by the MLB to have improper ratios of hormones and that a secondary test on the sample was reported to show synthetic testosterone was present. Except they don’t know if the urine that came out of Ryan Braun that day actually had irregularities in the hormone levels, they were not involved in the testing, nor did they perform any oversight to ensure no mistakes were made.

      They also “know” that there is no way the test could have given false results because some scientists or executives who work for drug testing companies have claimed this is the case. Except they don’t know that there is no way for the results to end up invalid or for testing results to be mixed up or to simply be mishandled in ways that causes the compounds being tested for to metabolize and create false positives or false negatives.

      The confirmation bias here is causing people who should be intelligent enough to recognize they are not aware of enough facts in this case to make an intelligent judgement, to ignore this and make an uneducated judgement anyway. To say that Ryan Braun used PEDs knowingly or unknowingly based off the evidence released publicly to this point is exactly as incorrect logically as saying he’s definitely innocent of using PEDs because the sample collector couldn’t be bothered to stop at one of the several FedEx locations in his immediate area in a timely fashion after getting the sample.

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      • Cidron says:

        Technically speaking, we only know his SAMPLE came back positive. Not that HE tested positive. His sample, and the irregularities surrounding its custody, are what is under scrutiny here. Did the sample metabolize, undergo alteration, undergo tampering, have components decay, etc during its weekend stay at someone’s house in “the basement” (fridge?, countertop? shelf? desktop? floor?). It is supposed to be FedEx’d immediately. Overnight would be my guess. Why? Not just to “get it there fast” for the sake of fast.. But, to get it there before it degrades.

        Did he get off on a technicality? Maybe, maybe not. OR, it was among the few allowable defenses, as the process specifically does not allow questioning the TESTING processes validity as a defense.

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  2. Shane says:

    Ryan Braun and JJ Hardy went beast mode on a bunch of Milwaukee starlets together. End of story. Now they both get meds for the ret of their career that helps them “blast bombs” and keep the love bumps in control.

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  3. paranoiaagent says:

    Agree 100%.

    The people saying “HE DEFINITELY DID IT” are annoying, for sure. But so are the people who are now saying, “Well, he’s been found not guilty, so if you question that verdict, you are an enemy of due process and the legal system.”

    Based on the information we have, it’s pretty difficult to say definitively that he did or did not use steroids. But it is possible to understand the point of view of people who think he did.

    The real issue here (to me) is the fact that steroids are banned in the first place, which is ridiculous and without a basis in science. There is little evidence that steroids improve athletic performance.

    And even if they did…all the more reason to let players use them! The negative side effects of adults using steroids are minimal. If steroids can help players play better, or recover from injuries, they should be allowed to use them.

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    • paranoiaagent says:

      And by “athletic performance”, I was referring to “baseball-related athletic performance”, not general athletic performance.

      See steroidsandbaseball.com for a lot more on the subject.

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      • Ronin says:

        I agree with you up to the point that you said the negative side effects are minimal. There is significant research to show that anabolic steroids and HGH abuse causes damage to internal organs particularily the heart, liver, and kidneys. In fact almost all legal suplements such as those found in GNC or Walmart have a negative effect on internal organs when used over a prolonged period.

        I believe that as long as peope are made aware of the dangers of such products they should have to freedom to choose to use them or not. Almost all atheletes regardless of sport are using supplements and chemicals that they know very little about with the express intent of gaining an advantage. I dont see how this is “cheating” since everyone is doing it. Dont give me the sanctity of baseball arguement because players through out the ages have used a variety of stimulants which I would argue have a more direct and immediate impact on performance.

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      • Richie says:

        Well, now we all know one web site to not bother with.

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      • Nerds of Summer says:

        I wrote a thesis on the side effects of anabolic steroid abusers versus administering recommended doses. The typical anabolic steroid abusers in my study took nearly six times the recommended dosage and saw the beginning stages of some of the side effects Ronin listed. In the non-abusers there were no negative side effects.

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    • Brian says:

      The real issue here is that we were provided with information at all. All of this should have remained confidential, but because of the way it leaked out, everyone was free to form their opinions with very minimal information.

      I think it’s kind of crazy that Braun maintained his innocence, fought to reverse the decision, won, and is STILL guilty in the court of public opinion.

      What else could he do?

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      • Richie says:

        He clearly got off on a technicality. Doesn’t make him provably guilty. But your pronouncement of “crazy” is actually kinda crazy.

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      • Bill but not Ted says:

        It’s not a technicality, it’s a requirement of the process. You cannot say with certainty that nothing (intentionally or accidentally) happened to that sample. Just like I can’t say it did.

        If he is an abuser/user, he will most likely get caught in the future.

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      Look up Lyle Alzado if you want to dispute steroid’s negative effects. I want to watch athletes, not chemistry experiments.

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  4. Sammy says:

    Ryan Braun is not here to talk about the past.

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    • Shane says:

      I wouldn’t be here to talk about the past either if I had love bumps from doing the gayest of gaY things with JJ (BIG BUMPS) HARDY.

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  5. mcbrown says:

    Dave, you are wrong. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer on the internet. Everyone knows everything, and loudly.

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    • NS says:

      The problem is that it’s not an interesting answer. Caveats about uncertainty are one thing, but foreclosing debate on the grounds that the evidence isn’t dispositive is as tedious as it is silly.

      Acknowledge the limits of our present knowledge and then carry on with an analysis of the information we do have. That’s what this site – and this writer – does all the time. Suddenly we have to tiptoe and play PC when it’s about a baseball player instead of his stat page? Disagree.

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      • jorgath says:

        All right. The evidence shows the following: He took a drug test. The sample for the drug test was improperly handled in ways that, scientifically, could have an effect on the test. He failed the drug test. He appealed. He won the appeal because the sample was improperly handled.

        Additionally, several pieces of confidential information – including at least one he can sue over, seeing as it was a breach of the CBA and of his medical privacy rights – were released.

        From this, we can draw the conclusion that it is slightly more likely that he took some sort of PED than it is that random player X, whose drug test results have never been released, did. But not enough more likely that he should be penalized. The end.

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      • glenstein says:

        NS, that assumes that regardless of the level of evidence available, we can always “carry on” with analysis in some meaningful sense. But that’s what Cameron is disputing in the first place.

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      • NS says:

        jorgath – From this, we can draw the conclusion that it is slightly more likely that he took some sort of PED than it is that random player X, whose drug test results have never been released, did But not enough more likely that he should be penalized. The end.

        This seems to be the most controversial part around which a lot of tangential arguments are being constructed. It’s not mentioned in the original post, but there’s plenty of confirmation bias happening here on the “Braun is clean” side. The ruling doesn’t disqualify the evidence as evidence of PED use, but only as evidence sufficient for punishment under MLB policy.

        The ruling makes sense to me. The “Braun is innocent” fluff does not.

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      • jorgath says:

        NS – The ruling makes sense to me. The “Braun is innocent” fluff does not.

        I can agree with that, but the “Braun is 100% guilty” screaming also does not make sense to me.

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      • NS says:

        glenstein-that assumes that regardless of the level of evidence available, we can always “carry on” with analysis in some meaningful sense. But that’s what Cameron is disputing in the first place.

        That would be an interesting to dispute, but that didn’t really happen; it was merely contradicted by conclusory statements toward the end of the post.

        I’m not trying to make a big deal out of this, just pointing out that fangraphs is generally great at avoiding this kind of article. That’s one of reasons I like it: if there’s a conclusion, you can bet the premises will be explicit.

        We might agree with a post that concludes a certain subset of splits data should be disregarded (or that a conclusion drawn from it isn’t sound), but you’d expect the author to spell out why one should do so. That’s the part missing here.

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      • glenstein says:

        NS: it was merely contradicted by conclusory statements toward the end of the post.

        Toward the end of the post, I see “I have no idea if he used steroids or not” and ” I’m just not in any position to have any kind of opinion” and “We don’t know that Braun used or didn’t use.” I’m either not seeing the “conclusory” statements you speak of or I’m not understanding what you mean by conclusory. I also don’t see what would be so “an interesting to dispute” about them absent the perceived contradiction.

        Lastly I don’t see that Cameron has a burden to lay out the “why” any more than he already has, or why it justifies all the unexplained signaling about how he wrote “this kind of article” which is insidious.

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      • NS says:

        glenstein – Here they are, then:

        - The limited information that has gotten out to the public doesn’t give us any kind of real basis for drawing conclusions.

        - Bruan may or may not have used, and there’s no real way for us to actually know.

        - There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”, and given the actual evidence that the public possesses, it’s the only fair thing we can say.

        The first and third are the ones I was referencing originally. The second one is a tautology followed by a throwaway about certainty (the kind of throwaway you never have and never will see in a discussion about DIPS or WAR, for example). What a “real basis” is and what’s “fair to say” are things that need to be argued for, not just alluded to as discussion-ending placeholders for the reader’s own assumptions.

        If this were a conversation, I might agree that the person arguing Cameron’s side had no burden to flesh out these claims. But in my view, an article written to disagree with an opposing position ought to present (or at least reference) that position in its strongest form.

        In this case, the opposing position considers two positive drug tests to be a “real basis” not for certitude, but for a conclusion that Braun probably used PEDs. There are plenty of things beyond “I’m not certain” that are fair to say.

        Again, we see this template play out all the time within the confines of statistical analysis. Uncertainty is everywhere, but it doesn’t disqualify evidence and it doesn’t prevent analysis or conclusions.

        What I would have found interesting is an argument rather than a conclusion and a broad reference to bias. This site and this author excels at acknowledging those two things and then pushing past them. That’s what would have been better today.

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      • philosofool says:

        I think you’re missing the point. The point is about the difference between what we think is most probable and what we know.

        You can speculate, conjecture, and refine your opinion about the evidence that you do possess all day long. But as long as your evidence remains incomplete, that speculation, conjecture and refinement doesn’t make your opinion knowledge.

        Many people will assess the information they have and find it difficult to think that Braun didn’t “get off on a technicality.” They will feel that the evidence favors a certain conclusion. But their claims to knowledge are overstating the quality of the evidence they possess: the details of the arbitration case are not public, some people are implying that his sample was tampered, and our guesses about how likely that is are really *just guesses* as long as the details of the case are hidden from public view.

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      • NS says:

        ^I don’t think I miss the point so much as I dislike it and question whether it’s worth making by itself. It’s an important caveat rather than an interesting subject and it’s presented here as a discussion-ender when there’s plenty of interesting things to talk about.

        If these limitations really were discussion enders, half of the great material on this site would not exist.

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      • glenstein says:

        NS, it sounds like you’re saying that Cameron is contradicting himself because refraining from making a judgment is itself a kind of judgment and therefore conflicts with his position not to make a judgment. I respectfully submit that I find it unpersuasive.

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    • bjoak says:

      I’m glad we have Dave to offset Jeff Passan.

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  6. novaether says:

    As statistically inclined as we all are here, we should be familiar with the concept of false positive rates. We know that to find Braun guilty, the odds that he took steroids must be beyond the significance level. I’m guessing here, but since there was some failure to follow protocol in this specific tests, I would imagine that the “positive” result was not statistically significant.

    At least… I hope that’s how they arrived at their decision.

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    • cwendt says:

      You are wrong.

      Braun tested positive on both the first & follow-up tests of the sample. It is highly unlikely that BOTH tests resulted in false positives.

      Braun was exonerated based on chain of custody issues (the courier didn’t get the sample to MLB in the allotted time). Braun’s entire defense is that anything could have happened to the sample in that time, not that the test itself was wrong.

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      • jorgath says:

        Except that those chain-of-custody issues include improper handling of the sample (sticking it in your fridge is NOT proper handling) and anyone who knows chemistry knows that chemical reactions occur over time, which accounts for the ridiculously high levels. So of course he failed both tests on the same sample, since the SAMPLE ITSELF was quite possibly corrupted.

        I’m not saying that his levels weren’t elevated, by the way, just that the level in the sample could have been increased by the delay and the improper storage before testing, accounting for the off-the-charts levels.

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      • novaether says:

        Interesting. I did not know that there was a follow-up test on the sample, but that makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

        Sure, he probably did something that made the test yield positive. However, if the proper test protocols were not followed, can we be sure enough? That’s a question I don’t think I could answer without being way more familiar with the entire process.

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      • SeaWolf says:

        My understanding is that the “second test” was not a retest of the first (i.e. it was not to deterimne if the testosterone levels were high), but was a test to determine if the testosterone in the sample was natural or synthetic.

        The second test concluded that the testosterone was synthetic (i.e. not naturally created by the body).

        Assuming the tests were correct, this leaves us with 2 possibilties – One, that Braun did have synthetic testosterone in his system or, two, that it was injected somehow into the sample.

        Where you go from there, perhaps, depends upon your bias…

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      • jim says:

        it was highly unlikely that omar vizquel would ever hit .333. still happened, though

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  7. st says:

    i always love Dave’s post but not sure what to think. I’m not sure its wrong to make a guess based on some info. The evidence is that he failed the test and what exonerated him was the procedure. Is that not enough evidence to make a guess while still acknowledging of course we dont know with certainty?

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    • juan pierres mustache says:

      part of the problem, i think, is that the best chance of winning the appeal that braun had was to target the chain of custody “technicalities”, so obviously that’s what he did because it was his best shot. it’s unclear if he also felt that the positive test could be challenged, or whether he had some other defense that just seemed less likely to win. im not saying he necessarily had another defense, but there certainly is that chance.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CJ says:

        None of us know the totality of evidence presented to the arbitrator. Without knowing that, we don’t know what other evidence was presented which could have led the arbitrator to believe the chain of custody issue was significant. That’s why I’m not comfortable referring to this as a technicality. I get irritated with the Nancy Grace’s of the world second guessing juries. But reaching conclusions here is even worse because we don’t know all of the evidence, and the neutral arbitrator, who is a law professor with lengthy experience as a labor arbitrator, presumably is more expert than a jury.

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      • Johnny Come Lately says:

        This was my thought too. Just because his lawyers decided to attack the chain of custody “technicality” doesn’t mean they didn’t have other strong arguments to refute the positive test. It just means that this particular one was the strongest.

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      • Joe says:

        Sadly though the effect of time on a urine sample would be fairly easy to test and is (apparently) not something tjat was covered.

        While I’m sure there are biological subtleties from person to person, I think the effect of time at elevated (in this case room temperature) could be studied to determine if Braun’s results fall into these bounds, but as faras I know no such argument was made.

        While most checmical reactions have some sort of e^ (-1/kT) component it is certainly possible that room temp (68-72C?) vs 40C made SOME difference, but the question that is not addressed is would that diference account for both the higher epi levels and the sytnthetic substance found?

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  8. Joe says:

    As a behavioral economist and someone intimately familiar with confirmation bias and FAE… I think I can speak for Braves fans everywhere that we don’t need to be wizards to know that Linebrink/Sherrill/Proctor is going to lose the game.

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  9. Jason says:

    Great article here – argues against verdict as win on technicality

    http://bullpenbanter.com/rtmenu/688-ryan-braun-a-the-chain-of-custody

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    • Pennant says:

      doesnt work. Aparrently specimen was still sealed and integrity intact. I don’t know if the blogger heard this when he posted the article, but he ought to edit it to at least acknowledge that “confidential sources” say the seal was not broken. That ultimately is the big question; otherwise it is flimsy technicality he got off on.

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      • Richie says:

        What this guys says. With regard to these particular substances, what I’ve read is that there’s pretty much no chance the extra time involved could’ve ‘produced’ those readings falsely.

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      • Bronnt says:

        And honestly, if the sample arrived with a broken seal, I have a tough time imagining they’d run any tests on it in the first place, or believe any test results they got. I assume the seal was intact thanks to the fact that there was an initial report of a positive test result. If they’re running tests on samples with violated seals, then everyone working at the lab should be fired, especially given the media scrutiny around this case. But that doesn’t seem to have happened.

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      • rea says:

        Aparrently specimen was still sealed and integrity intact.

        See, that’s speculation. We don’t know that the evidence before the aribtrator showed that. Just like we don’t know whether the courier put the sample in a refrigerator or left it on a shelf in his basement. You can find professional reporters on the internet claiming that Braun’s legal team showed a mechanism by which a false positive would have occurred. You can also find people denying that.

        All we really know is (1) results of the test were illegally leaked, (2) test results were positive, (3) Braun and other have said that the test results were the highest in history, (4) something went wrong with delivery of the sample results to the lab, and (5) the arbitrator found Bruan not guilty. I don’t think you can conclude from those facts that Braun was a cheater who got off on a technicality, but YMMV.

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      • Kellin says:

        I hate to quote the mothership but:

        “T.J. Quinn ? @TJQuinnESPN

        Re Braun claim his 20-1 t/e ratio was 3X highest ever recorded: according to experts, have recorded as high as 70-1, and 20-1 not unusual.”

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      • Train says:

        so what if it was sealed? maybe it wasn’t his piss. Or maybe a substance was injected through the seal. the point is, you don’t know so can it. you can make all the conjectures you want, but the reason there are coc standards is because coc is very important as to the integrity of the sample. At this point all anyone knows is that he may have been cheating, or he may not have been. And unless you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no reason you should have your career, reputation and livelihood maligned by people talking like they know jack when they don’t know jack at all.

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  10. West says:

    He’s like OJ SImpson, guily but aquitted because the evidence was not handled properly.

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  11. john says:

    Steroids and HGH are different things, there are many PED’s – and to suggest there is no evidence to suggest PED’s do not improve performance is absurd. I am in the camp that believes he did it, why? Because he failed a test, this we know… I think… And mlb has a track record of covering up inconvenient results. MLB has not done themselves any favors with their handling of this, either the testing process is a joke or this cover up is a joke. Are we really to believe the mlb testing process entails someone taking samples home with them? If so, the test should immediately be discredited, not met with a 50 game suspension. If in fact, he legit failed a test with a valid urine sample and mlb is once again covering up something that may be detrimental to their sport and crush the momentum of an outstanding end of last season…. Shame on them for doing it again. And shame on them for this ridiculous story of the urine in the fridge overnight… Again, it is either a joke of a cover up or a joke of a testing process.

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    • Shane says:

      Or he really does have VD.

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    • M.Twain says:

      Are you trying to prove Dave’s point? If so, great job!

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      • john says:

        How am I proving the confirmation bias theory? I believe he did it because the story seems so outlandish of how the sample was tainted. Again, either the testing process is a joke, or the cover up is a joke. There is no in between, is there? If I am to believe that the mlb testing policy involves someone taking a sample home with them and that sample being used as evidence for a 50 game suspension – then someone outside of mlb needs to be tasked with overhauling the testing process, and RB has been unfairly smeared. But does that not seem a bit out there? That after CONGRESS was forced to get involved once, that PED testing would be treated so haphazardly? Yesterday, I really had no opinions on what should happen to him… I surely had higher hopes for the information that would be provided. I think the way the testing process was handled is far more disappointing than the possibility that one of the games superstars was using a banned substance.

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      • What cover-up? Cover-up means when something happens and no one finds out about it. You must have missed the whole “MLB suspends reigning MVP for 50 games” thing.

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    • Johnny says:

      The issue is with the “valid urine sample” part. The MLB and the MLBPA have very explicitly outlined the requirements of a valid urine sample in the definition of the testing process and chain of custody procedures, and it seems like the issue was a violation of these procedures. That would mean it can’t be classified as a valid urine sample by the definition agreed upon by the MLB and the MLBPA.

      Does this mean Braun is without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt innocent? No. Does this mean Braun is without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt guilty? No. It means we don’t know because we can’t get an answer that the system would consider completely reliable.

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      • john says:

        Agreed. I did not say the sample was valid, I said if it was valid, they are covering up PED usage…. again. If there are such explicitly outlined requirements for a urine sample to qualify as valid, then why was a player suspended 50 games for an invalid sample? Why even test the sample after it was in someone’s fridge overnight? I also agree, that he is certainly not a without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt anything. My point is that something is fishy here – either the testing process is flawed, or they are covering something up with a very fishy story.

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    • SF 55 for life says:

      ” and to suggest there is no evidence to suggest PED’s do not improve performance is absurd.”

      Muscle milk improves performance, electrolytes from Gatorade improves performance. While it is true that they probably have a positive affect on performance the medical world seems to be very much in the dark on the extent of their affects.

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  12. Eminor3rd says:

    You didn’t know it, but you just wrote a perfect defense of separation of church and state.

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  13. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Cheating Muscle Head Juicers, great fantasy name

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  14. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Barry Bonds never had a positive test that has been confirmed by anyone, yet the circumstancial evidence is he is guilty, same with Roger Clemens. Braun had a positive result, that may be explained away by logical and acceptable methods, but he did indeed test positive.

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    • M.Twain says:

      Yes, there was a positive test from a sample not handled according to the procedure that was established in order to assure the integrity of the results.

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    • Socal Baseball says:

      I know at least three people who played with Ryan Braun in the Cape Cod league and each told me independently that he got chewed out by the coach because him and another player were shooting up steroids in the locker room in plain view of other players.

      Steroids, HGH, etc are still just as prevalent as before. Most players are just a whole hell of a lot smarter about the way they go about their cycles and what drugs they are taking.

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • M.Twain says:

        You seem really credible. I’m convinced.

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      • SF 55 for life says:

        Any evidence here? NOPE

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      • drewcorb says:

        As a person of faith, I’m bound by a different covenant than Socal Baseball. But our goal is one and the same: the pursuit of truth. I for one believe him.

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      • Nate says:

        While not saying this is 100% untrue, if you’ve been in a locker room, it is unlikely. Who said this?

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      • jim says:

        ooh, i wanna play!

        I know at least five people who played with Ryan Braun in the Cape Cod league and each told me independently that he regularly got chewed out for showing up to practice late because he was too busy helping old ladies cross streets and rescue kittens caught in trees.

        did i do it right?

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    • DD says:

      Bonds admitted to “unknowingly” taking PEDs. Get over it.

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  15. jeff_bonds says:

    It’s not like most people who came to be convinced of Ryan Braun’s PED use already held an unconfirmed opinion as to Braun’s PED use before the test results leaked. I’d like to know how confirmation bias factors into that, or how confirmation bias created testosterone in Braun’s urine sample. There’s no question that confirmation bias is something to be wary of, but that doesn’t mean it can be used as a way to explain away any test results that one dislikes or finds inconvenient.

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  16. puffy says:

    He’s juiced to his eyeballs. So is half the league. Get over it you f-ing babies.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • philosofool says:

      Right, almost no one gets caught but half the league is juiced.

      Are you just trolling, or do you actually believe this? None of the evidence really strongly suggests it.

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      • Evan says:

        Yeah. Just because half the league isn’t failing drug tests doesn’t mean that half the league isn’t juicing.

        Marion Jones never failed a drug test despite the fact that Olympic and Track and Field have the most rigorous testing standards.

        The people getting caught are just a whole lot dumber and careless. The problem is still rampant in almost all professional sports.

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    • jim says:

      i think this post is almost the definition of confirmation bias, no?

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  17. Hoof says:

    Roy Halladay took steroids?

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  18. bill says:

    I’d like to here more about this collector who kept the sample at his home over 2 days before dispatching it. Was he some college kid with a car doing a part-time job or a 10-year employee?

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    • Ronin says:

      Yeah Bill this is the part I dont get. How does this whole testing process work? Players show up get handed a cup, do their thing, hand it to a FedEx guy? Then they ship it to some remote lab? When we were tested in college I am pretty sure they checked the samples on site. I’m not sure of all the equipment needed to test for HGH but it seems that any process that involves a courier is flawed.

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  19. Jason says:

    Believing that Braun used PED is not confirmation bias. It is the result of the test. Believing that “Science exonerated Ryan Braun” can only be confirmation bias (or ignorance).

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    • jorgath says:

      No, believing that Braun used PED is confirmation bias because it is believing in the result of a not-scientifically-accurate test, because the sample needs to be handled properly FOR GOOD, SCIENTIFIC REASONS. Likewise, believing that science exonerated him is also confirmation bias, because the only way it could is if he took another test at the exact same time that WAS handled properly and DIDN’T test positive. What’s NOT confirmation bias is believing, and understanding, that “Science did not actually answer whether or not Braun used a PED.”

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      • jeff_bonds says:

        Again, what bias is being confirmed when no one had an inkling of Braun’s PED use before the two test results leaked?

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      • Jason says:

        This is false. A written procedure that had nothing to do with science was not followed and Braun had his suspension overturned on a technicality.

        I’m a molecular geneticist. My lab has a close association with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City. We have trained many of their forensic geneticists. Believe it or not, the Medical Examiner’s lab uses outdated lab equipment and reagents, not for scientific reasons, but for technical reasons. The outdated equipment has been certified for use in forensics and the new better equipment has not been certified. Also, the forensics lab throws away perfectly good reagents for technical reasons. Cases will be dismissed if they use perfectly good reagents that are too old. I know they are perfectly fine because instead of actually throwing away the perfectly good (and expensive) reagents, the OCME donates them to my lab and we use them for real science. Court rooms and arbitration tables are not deciding based on science (which they are not qualified to do), they are deciding based upon procedure (which typically has nothing to do with actual science).

        There is no scientific reason that has been presented that would cause a false positive test result from the way the sample was handled. It just happened to be the case that rules were violated. Braun failed the test. The testers failed to follow a procedure. Braun was let off on a technicality.

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • gaius marius says:

        @jeff_bonds — the bias being confirmed is that all home run hitters are juiced, which is in fact a widespread belief, particularly if the hitter plays for some club other than the one you root for.

        @Jason — this is wonderful context if in fact it can be confirmed that sample handling has no effect on test outcomes using this particular test in this particular circumstance. as much as i like to defer to expertise, your claim to general expert status is less convincing than i would like as molecular genetics and drug/PED testing, while both chemical in nature, are not identical. but it shouldn’t be hard to find folks who actually do work in drug testing labs who might testify on this point.

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      • Pennant says:

        broadly stated, you can get away with a COC argument. But, you are oblivious to science if you do not understand that, synthetic testost can not be generated in an improperly maintained specimen, and the account we have, from allegedly credible source, is that the specimen seal was intact. Unless someone is lying at the lab, the large majority of the evidence is against RB, arbiter or not. RB has not claimed the test result was wrong, he says it could have been wrong in theory, but if you acknowledge the rest of the info we have, the “in theory” possibility does not pan out for RB, unless he is still saving his trump card for an espn presser or something.

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      • gaius marius says:

        @Jason — and i would further note that, even if it were revealed that there are no valid scientific reasons to expect that the handling corrupted the sample, there are ample political reasons — unless you accept a priori that major league baseball is perfectly honest in all its dealings with its players, which would mean ignoring the greater part of baseball’s business history.

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      • DC says:

        To rag on just a bit, I would doubt that you can treat a sample that went through proper care compared to one that is about four days old and came from a constable’s home, which only claimed to be in the fridge, but you have no way of knowing.

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      • Jason says:

        @gaius marius

        I am not an expert on hormone testing and did not intend to imply that I was. I was just pointing out that courts don’t decide based upon science, and the rules that they have in place frequently have absolutely nothing to do with science. I was also pointing out that no actual scientific explanation for how the improper handling could result in a false positive test has been presented. I like to think that if there was an actual scientific explanation for how the mishandling caused his hormone ratios to be aberrant and synthetic testosterone to appear in the sample we would have heard.

        I do know experts in hormone metabolite analysis. A friend of mine collects monkey feces in Africa to measure the relationship between hormone levels and baboon behavior. I promise you she does not (cannot) even treat the samples as well as Braun’s was treated. My understanding is that the ratios of the metabolites will remain relatively constant. But I am not an expert and my opinion is based on hearsay.

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      • gaius marius says:

        @Jason — great comments, btw, and thanks. i’m sure you’re right that the legal process has more to do with a lack of trust between the two sides than any scientific reason.

        of course, as pointed out here, this is a process designed to stop the breaking of essentially arbitrary rules — and it would be highly ironic, if not entirely self-defeating, if it could be allowed to go forward despite the breaking of essentially arbitrary rules. credit the arbitrator for applying the precept to MLB as he would have a player or MLBPA.

        fwiw i think the balance of probability has to be that braun was in fact doped — and here i willingly admit to the bias that all players (not just or even preponderantly power hitters) in all professional sports where fitness is an issue are doped because they are heavily incentivized to be doped.

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    • DC says:

      But this isn’t the labs you see, in the labs we KNOW the reagents and tests are good because proper due diligence and process went into them. The circumstances surrounding this little sample are far more murky.

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    • PHDchemist says:

      I’m in complete agreement with Jason on this. I too am not an expert in doping but based on my understanding of how MLB conducts its drug tests and how Braun’s samples were handled, I would say it is highly likely that Braun is guilty. Synthetic testosterone is identified by the amount of C13 isotope that is present. There is no reason why natural testosterone would degrade measurably faster than synthetic testosterone over the course of a few days. Testosterone is a small molecule and will not readily degrade like proteins or RNA. The only possible explanation for Braun’s high synthetic testosterone results is that the sample was intentionally contaminated (my understanding is that a player’s sample is initially divided into two separate samples which are tested independently so Braun’s sample showed elevated synthetic testosterone levels in two independent tests).

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      • pft says:

        Actually, eating a diet high in C3 plants, and drinking a lot of beer (made from C3 plants) could lower your C13 levels. Testosterone is produced from cholesterol, about 1/2 of which is derived from dietary sources. If the cholesterol is low in C13, so will the testosterone produced. Testosterone has a very short half life, much shorter than other natural steroids in the body, making it more susceptible to diet.

        The CIR test does not actually look directly at testosterone . The test focuses on 4 testosterone metabolites in the urine. They designed the CIR test in a way that would correct for different diets. For this reason, they look at two other metabolites not related to testosterone metabolism and assume them to be the bodies natural C13 levels based on the individuals diet.. However, the half life of the steroids from which these metabolites comes from is higher than testosterone, so are not as sensitive to diet as testosterone metabolites are..

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      • PHDchemist says:

        Thanks for the clarification. It’s my understanding that the C13 levels are compared with a non-synthetic molecule (i.e., reference sample) that is produced in the body to determine whether the testosterone metabolites are synthetic. If that is the case, then Braun’s diet would likely not matter and my reasoning still holds.

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  20. taprat says:

    I think Ryan Braun took steroids. Beyond a reasonable doubt? No, but certainly it is more probable than not, and that is a perfectly acceptable standard to use on a day to day basis. I consider that a reasonably informed opinion, based on reading a number of articles on the facts and circumstances. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this camp. Confirmation bias has nothing to do with it, and I honestly don’t see how it comes into play in this case.

    That said, it’s a real shame this information was leaked to the public. The system for testing athletes that MLB has put into place is a fine one. Neutral arbitrators overturned the suspension. I believe that is the correct result, because the correct process was followed to resolve the issue. Process is extremely important. A player should not be legally exonerated but sullied in the eye of the public, as Braun has been in this case. In my mind, the person who leaked this information is the biggest criminal of all.

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    • jim says:

      why would you think he took steroids? he tested positive for synthetic testosterone in levels frequently seen in professional body builders, and at a level 3-4 times higher than anyone else in the history of the program. if that’s not enough to cast doubt in your mind on the legitimacy of it, then you need to rethink how you think.

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  21. the hottest stove says:

    We must get past the idea that improper protocol was used for the testing procedure, and this affected the outcome.

    The protocol used was exactly right for collecting, storing and testing the specimen. However, the technicality was that it was written out differently in the MLB drug policy, so Braun does have a legitimate gripe about that. However, nothing that happened with chain of command would have been an issue in any other testing circumstances. The sample was sealed and stored properly by standards used in medical clinics all around the world.

    Also, no misstep in that process could possibly CREATE a result showing synthetic testoserone, even if the sample was intentionally tampered with. It’s impossible to do…and that’s oversimplifying how the tests work. If it was tampered with, it wouldn’t show up as positive, it would show up as inconclusive or not valid.

    The sad part is that what people are considering a “mistake” on the part of the technician was actually a person taking measures to ensure that the test was as accurate as possible. The sample is much safer waiting under supervision with a technician than waiting to be shipped somewhere outside of his control. This part of the story sounds bad, but a laboratory would prefer this decision to be made whenever necessary to avoid the sample sitting away from a technician’s care.

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    • jorgath says:

      No, it wasn’t stored properly. Storing it properly doesn’t include sticking it in your fridge at home (temperature varies too much). Storing it properly doesn’t involve storing it for two extra days before it is tested, which can affect the content of the sample. Therefore, it was not scientifically accurate.

      Essentially, when the technician couldn’t send it off, what SHOULD have happened was a new test being performed, and shipped, on Monday.

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      • Pennant says:

        Labs dont work on weekends, Either it would be in a Fed Ex depot or in a lab refrigertaor somewhere. Heck, it may have been cared for better at the guys fridge than in a fedex depot; would they refrigertae it at fedex? We ship medical specimens and we dont specify fedex to cool them; we have to pack them in coolers ourselves! LOL The temp varies in home refrigertaor??? LOL why would it, do people routinely change the settings on the fridge, leave the door open for 10-15 at a time. the argument fails

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      • Yeah says:

        Even if we accept that there is temp. variance that is significant in a home fridge, and that the sample, while being refrigerated, was stored for two days, it wouldn’t be relevant to the outcome of the test. Temp. variance in a fridge would not create synthetic testosterone, and neither would two days of refrigeration.

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      • the hottest stove says:

        Again, yes it was stored properly for every other circumstance. But, because it was different than what was agreed upon, it was brought up in appeal. No one close to this matter is debating that the home fridge altered the test results…only that MLB broke the agreement they had signed saying how they would store it. That’s a huge difference when it comes to deciding whether or not Braun cheated, which is a more important issue in my mind.

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    • philosofool says:

      “The protocol used was exactly right for collecting, storing and testing the specimen. However, the technicality was that it was written out differently in the MLB drug policy, so Braun does have a legitimate gripe about that. However, nothing that happened with chain of command would have been an issue in any other testing circumstances. The sample was sealed and stored properly by standards used in medical clinics all around the world.”

      How do you know any of this?

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  22. Jordan says:

    We know for certain that the sample tested by the lab contained elevated levels of synthetic testosterone. Yes, the sample sat in a freezer for 2 days prior to being shipped. However, the ONLY synthetic testosterone could have found its way into that sample during that time is if someone deliberately added it. Synthetic testosterone doesn’t grow in urine samples due to improper storage. So really, you have to believe one of two things: either (1) Ryan Braun’s a juicer, or (2) someone with access to the storer’s freezer deliberately tampered with the sample.

    Sure, both are possibilities. But to suggest that they’re equally likely, or even close to equally likely, is ludicrous.

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    • ryan says:

      (2) someone with access to the storer’s freezer deliberately tampered with the sample.

      it has been reported that the seals were not broken…

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      • jim says:

        what if they just applied new, unbroken seals?

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      • Yeah says:

        It is not possible to replace a broken seal for a least one reason I can think of. All urine analysis labs keep a very tight watch on inventory and seals can not be obtained outside the lab. If the employee stole a seal with the intention of breaking the original and replacing it this would be reflected in the inventory and would need to be accounted for. There may be other reasons as well, but I think that could explain it.

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      • jim says:

        what if he had perfect duplicate seals? which you cannot know he did not

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      • the hottest stove says:

        Braun had to sign his name across the original seal, so it cannot be tampered with, removed, or changed. The process is VERY specific to guard against these types of arguments and appeals…and yet here we are.

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      • jim says:

        oh, his signature! well, that’s the end of it then. no possible way to duplicate that.

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      • Jordan says:

        The point I was trying to make is that while these scenarios are possible, they’re highly unlikely. Yet Dave makes it seem as though those of us who remain convinced that Braun juiced on at least this one occasion are biased.

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      • the hottest stove says:

        Jim….now you’re just getting silly.

        If anything was wrong with the sample, seal, or SIGNATURE, this would have been an obvious way to win the appeal AND clear Braun’s name entirely. However, in the actual case (reality) Braun’s counsel didn’t address any of this because it was sealed, signed and there is no wiggle room to say that it was tampered with or wasn’t his urine.

        (And just for kicks…. please explain to me how a signature across the seal isn’t valid for authenticating the contents… Please explain how the seal could have been tampered with, replaced, and resigned? You seem to think it would be easy, but in my mind it would border on impossible.)

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    • CJ says:

      “Sure, both are possibilities. But to suggest that they’re equally likely, or even close to equally likely, is ludicrous.”

      Why? Do you know both people personally such that you can render a judgement on the probability? What you are saying is that one of these two people is dishonest and it is ludicrous to believe that it is anybody but Ryan Braun. That is…what…confirmation bias?

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      • Jordan says:

        CJ says “What you are saying is that one of these two people is dishonest and it is ludicrous to believe that it is anybody but Ryan Braun.”

        No, that’s not what I said. I said that it’s ludicrous to suggest that it’s EQUALLY LIKELY that Braun juiced and that the storer tampered with the sample. Braun is grasping at straws with that allegation, especially considering (thanks ryan) that the seal was not broken.

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    • Richie says:

      A third possibility is that some other substance caused the result. It does happen. Which still wouldn’t help Braun, as it’s his responsibility to not ingest anything that’s not been vetted beforehand.

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    • Kellin says:

      If you want, read through MLB Joint Drug Agreement

      mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

      It spells out the coding of the specimens with initialing by both player and collector that barcodes on the collection vials match the security seals.

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    • Train says:

      But our justice system is not built on a basis of ‘likeliness’. If it is possible that the sample was tampered with than he is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure, baseball’s rules are not subject to our legal system, but they are subject to their own rules and their own rules acknowledges that not getting the sample to the labs asap introduces reasonable doubt.

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  23. Pennant says:

    Is it confirmation bias by angry internet posters or liberal bias against corporate drug testing by baseball bloggers? The irony of seeing Baseball Truthers, splitting stats like physicists split atoms, digging deep into stats, pitch f/x, searching for all evidence to make claims for truth, then wave their hands, and say “we don’t know” about RB, when in fact we know a lot. The link provided above comment from bullpen banter does not apply as the urine sample was sealed. there was no tampering, as far as we know, and RB didnt say there was, only there potentially could have been, even though we know there wasn’t. There may yet be evidence proving RB innocent, but thelarge majority of it now does not, and baseball truthers should be brave enough to admit this much, instead the last refuge of a lost argument “we just can’t know for certaint so let’s pretend like it did not happen and give RB the benefit of the doubt. he did not break any records anyway, so all is cool”

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    • Train says:

      How can you lambaste people for saying we should not pass judgement as we do not know all the facts, and then say…
      ‘there was no tampering, as far as we know’
      Exactly.

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  24. brad says:

    “liberal bias against corporate drug testing…. baseball truthers”
    You didn’t actually read the post, did you?

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  25. Bob says:

    Dave Cameron would write this article.

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  26. MustBunique says:

    Can you even see us from way up there on that horse?

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  27. Bronnt says:

    Honestly, since this doesn’t affect me personally, I’m much less likely to take any type of scientific approach to it. If were the type who would shout angry things at Ryan Braun or spraypaint his car or TP his house, I’d probably look for a bit more certainty in the process. As someone divorced from the situation, I feel okay with forming the opinion that he did use a PED, and that the test accurately caught him in the process. Not that I have an issue with him getting off on a technicality, either-mishandling evidence can be really problematic, so I’m okay with his appeal going through.

    But since I, and most internet posters, are so far removed from relevance to the issue, that there’s nothing wrong with making up my mind that he used PEDs. There’s no circumstances in which I’ll be called upon to pass judgment on him, so having preconceived notions about him is harmless. I’m not going to stalk him, text him, send him angry twitter messages, or slash his tires. I don’t have any obligation to wait for verifiable scientific proof beyond all doubts before I decide he’s guilty. And I won’t. Ryan Braun DID use PEDs, and he DID get off on a technicality, as far as I’m concerned.

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  28. Llewdor says:

    Confirmation bias is extremely dangerous. Confirmation bias is why one should never hold opinions without first mapping out the formal logic that supports them. Only then can you know that your bias is not affecting your judgment.

    The entire concept of belief invites confirmation bias. Therefore, belief itself is dangerous.

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  29. JonnyBS says:

    The internet seems to be full of loud angry fans who demand the media to apologize to Mr. Braun. People who “know” that Ryan Braun didn’t used steroids and was exonerated by “science.” People who “know” that he’s not a cheater. They “know” a lot of things, because Ryan Braun had always hits home runs from the beginning of his MLB career, and just because he’s failed one drug test, doesn’t mean he knowingly took PED.

    See, confirmation bias also work the other way, FYI.

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    • Richie says:

      Exactamundo.

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    • M.Twain says:

      I don’t think that’s in dispute. Didn’t Dave say as much?

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      • JonnyBS says:

        He’s only ridiculing one side, but I don’t know what’s his true intention here. And stating “I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean” doesn’t really color this article as impartial, because more often than not, people use this type of excuse all the time. As I said, I don’t really know.

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      • M.Twain says:

        There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”, and given the actual evidence that the public possesses, it’s the only fair thing we can say. We don’t know that Braun used or didn’t use.

        That seems pretty strong to me. Personally, I’m not seeing the side that’s saying he’s definitely innocent.

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      • bstar says:

        I’m not perfectly convinced he’s innocent either, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than being convinced he’s guilty.

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    • Sean says:

      At no point did he say that doesn’t exist. It would be redundant to show the counter point to every example.

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      • JonnyBS says:

        At no point did he say it exists either. It’s an assumption. Him choosing to go the route he did and the gem “I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean” do imply otherwise. Still, I’ll admit it’s an assumption on my part.

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  30. TomG says:

    The arbiters didn’t just hear testimony about the sample handling, they know the entire background of the story that we haven’t heard. The sample handling technicality was the mechanism that allowed them to overturn the suspension, but it isn’t necessarily the piece of evidence that compelled them to do so.

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    • Richie says:

      It also may have been the piece of evidence that compelled them to do so. ‘Proper procedure wasn’t followed, ergo we must acquit.’ Could well be a basic and immediately deciding rule.

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      • glenstein says:

        You’re right, Richie, but I hope that neither you or anyone else proceeds from “It also may have been…” to a strongly held opinion on Braun.

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      • TomG says:

        Fair enough, that certainly could be the case. I guess you can look at the testing system as rigid enough to let a guilty guy off on a procedural technicality, or lax enough to let an innocent guy on a procedural technicality. This debate is going to haunt the internets for many years.

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  31. rubesandbabes says:

    The problem with this article is there is no such thing as a list of exonerated athletes. They are all eventually found guilty.

    But getting to the point, go to a Brewers blog and people are saying stuff like ‘free at last.’

    It’s the Lance Armstrong thing all over again – Braun’s supporters are working to quash every argument and attacking all the easy non-controversial facts from every angle to do so, and the truth be damned.

    ==

    It is a reasonable question to asked who leaked this in the first place, and did they do so down down/out Braun because they saw that Braun was going to skate on this weekend refrigerator technicality?

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  32. Dustin says:

    I’m tired of hearing about loopholes and technicalities.

    If somebody accuses me of something that I didn’t do, and I have to defend myself to strangers, I’m going to look at their argument and evidence from all sides. You better believe I’m going to thoroughly examine and discover every possible flaw in their case. Then I’m going to pick the weakest links and go after those. That’s what any of us would do in the same situation.

    Ryan Braun hired lawyers to do this. As I’m sure others in baseball have done before. We do not know of any other positive tests that have been overturned. Shyam Das (http://www.nmb.gov/arbitrator-resumes/das-shyam_res.pdf) is not some sucker or chump. Nobody duped him or pulled the wool over his eyes. He has been doing this for a long f-ing time and he has not yet once sided with a player. Ryan Braun and his agents were successful in convincing him that there was something, just something, fishy about this whole scenario. Do you honestly think that he would let somebody he felt to be guilty off on some measly technicality? Think again. He has basically sole power in this decision and has to answer to no one. Also, do you think this is the first time a pee sample has been left in a fridge over the weekend? How many other players have tried to argue chain-of-custody issues only to no avail?

    We don’t yet know what Mr. Das was thinking as he hasn’t rendered a full opinion, but if I were him I’d be mad as hell that so many thought I frivolously let such a high profile player off the hook. Give the guy, and the system, some credit.

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    • rubesandbabes says:

      “Shyam Das is not some sucker or chump. Nobody duped him or pulled the wool over his eyes. He has been doing this for a long f-ing time and he has not yet once sided with a player.”

      The guideline here is the positive test, not whether Das typically sides with players or owners. Once an athlete tests positive, there’s no going back from that.

      What we understand is that Braun’s positive test was thrown out for bad handling under very specific and negotiated rules.

      Don’t bother waiting for more from Das. We have the story.

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      • Dustin says:

        “The guideline here is the positive test, not whether Das typically sides with players or owners. Once an athlete tests positive, there’s no going back from that.”

        Indeed. And if you’re going to convict someone based solely on the results of a test (and nothing else), then everything about that test had better be completely, impeccably airtight. Otherwise that person has no recourse with which to defend himself.

        Also, the arbitrator is not a machine. He is a human being with a wealth of experience on which to draw. If you think this decision was made completely and purely on the letter of the law (or, for that matter, if you think any decision made by any human being is ever completely objective) you’d better think again…

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    • PHDchemist says:

      I work in patent law and I can tell you that most lawyers (even those with technical background) would not be able to understand the science behind these testings. Mr. Das as far as I understand does not have at technical background and I assume may be more apt to be persuaded by arguments presented by the defense attacking the scientific validity of the test results as a result of COC issues.

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  33. Rob says:

    I think it is quite likely Braun used steroids.
    I also think it is perfectly reasonable that the panel ruled his suspension could not be enforced due to the circumstances surrounding the proces.

    If the details that it was synthetic testosterone and the seals were unbroken is true, then the options are really quite limited:

    1. Braun used a PED
    2. The lab test returned a false positive, twice
    3. His sample was intentionally tainted through some as yet unknown means

    We know as a medical certainty that there is no length of delay such that a clean sample decays into a sample glowing with synthetic testosterone. We can put that argument to bed. That leaves only the 3 options above.

    I have already mentioned I am on board with option 1.

    Option 2 is a possibility, but if the same result was returned in error twice, there should have been additional false positives from other samples tested at the same facility, on the same equipment. No such details have emerged, but that does not mean that it is not a legitimate possibility.

    As for option 3, it would almost require that the tamperer was acting on behalf of, or with the aid of, someone within the very highest levels of MLB. The testing is supposed to be random, so to know exactly when Braun would be tested, and to know which sample was his, and to taint it in such a way as to avoid detection seems either brilliant beyond my comprehension, or tinfoil hat conspiracy theory.

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  34. cpebbles says:

    The evidence against Braun is no less strong than it is against anyone else caught by MLB’s program. The technicality he was cleared on according to all counts was not a meaningful one, and none of the myriad excuses that have flown from Braun’s camp hold up. That isn’t confirmation bias, it’s the result of having some knowledge on the subject.

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  35. Shane says:

    What do they give you for love bumps, the cream or the clear?

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  36. adohaj says:

    The ruling doesn’t say Braun never used steroids. The ruling just says he wont be suspended for 50 games because of a breach in protocol. The situation is similar to a man charged with possessing drugs but then faces no punishment because of an unlawful search.

    Am I thinking correct here?

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    • rubesandbabes says:

      Yes, you are getting warm, but the ‘pro-Braun’ crowd is going right past this to proclaim his innocence.

      This article only covers one side of the bias, basically cracking open a window of doubt for the Braun cheerleaders to barrel through.

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    • jeff_bonds says:

      No, because here we can easily imagine that Matt Kemp stole into the courier’s house, took the sample out of the fridge, carefully unsealed it, and had Miguel Tejada piss all over it, then sealed it back. See, there’s definitely reasonable doubt that the sample was tainted.

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  37. Justin says:

    This is a tough article to get behind. Your overall point makes sense. As humans, we do often look to confirm our biases in making arguments, despite logica/evidence to the contrary.

    However, it’s a bit much to say we don’t know Braun’s any more guilty than Halladay or Dee Gordon of all people. Braun legitimately failed a untampered with drug test. That’s good enough for most people, myself included.

    I work in compliance, so I’m bias to the thought process of “You must always follow proper protocol.” It seems the tester unfortunately didn’t. If that’s the case, I have no problem with Braun walking. He hired good lawyers and they did their job. That doesn’t mean the general public, outside of Milwaukee, has to accept that decision.

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    • bstar says:

      He didn’t legitimately fail an untampered drug test. You dont know it was untampered, and since the COC was broken, the test was tainted.

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  38. The Nicker says:

    There is no need to simplify the situation like you do. We do not need to view Ryan Braun like we view Roy Halladay or Dee Gordon. Those guys have never been linked or even rumored to have used PEDs. If steroid use is one a simple line segment equilibrium, they are all the way to the left, while someone like Jose Canseco or Ken Caminiti is all the way to the right.

    Do we know Ryan Braun used? No, but we are not a jury sitting on a trial. We can be aware certainly that this event occurred and therefore create some sort of odds that he used. There is no reason to say “we don’t know for sure if Ryan Braun used and therefore he is to be viewed like Roy Halladay.”

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  39. Chris says:

    The rate of false positives for these tests are set based upon successfully following the agreed upon protocol. No one has any idea what the rate of false positives are for a sample that is analyzed after not following protocol. Build onto that an unprecedented outcome for the sample and I think it is fair to say that based on the results of the test, we know absolutely nothing about whether Ryan Braun used steroids.

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  40. Dave says:

    To the people who say Braun “got off” on a technicalitly consider this : If a defense lawyer asks the judge to throw out a case based on lack of evidence and the judge agrees the lawyer would never have to refute any of the prosecutions’ evidence. Same thing here. The only thing we “know” is that Braun never was given a 50 game suspension. We shouldn’t have ever found out about that. Both sides had to agree to talk about the ruling because the whole process was to be confidential. MLB could not have issued a statement without Braun’s side agreeing to it.

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  41. PrinceOfBeers says:

    Ryan Braun is completely innocent, this whole charade was done because he’s been the poster child for a clean baseball player and someone in MLB didn’t like that. It’s obvious the specimen was tainted: don’t compare Braun to obvious cheats like Bonds, McGuire, and A-Rod.

    There is a ton of confirmation bias here, players heard of a false positive and are looking for evidence that supports the positive result. Storing the specimen in a refrigerator, even if sealed, was an opportunity given to Braun’s enemies to taint the specimen. They were probably the same people who leaked the result.

    Don’t believe any of it. Braun is clean, he is free, and he’s going to the 2012 World Series.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jorgath says:

      Hate to say it, but you just made Dave’s point on the other side. You have confirmation bias in favor of Braun being clean, so this ambiguous result = clean in your mind.

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      • PrinceOfBeers says:

        I have the high ground because would-be criminals are innocent until proven guilty. Until someone unambiguously shows that Ryan Braun used a steroid, he is clean.

        Baseball and its witch hunts are pretty ridiculous these days. When Jim Thome hit his 600th home run, people were saying he won’t get into the Hall of Fame because…people around him used steroids, even though he himself was never found to. Implying, people think he used steroids, never got caught, and so are lumping him with Bonds and McGuire as cheaters.

        Whether or not you think Thome is a HOFer is a different debate, this is a slippery slope at its worst and a crucifixion by writers and fans.

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  42. soupman says:

    had the appeal been rejected…would we “know for sure”?
    who, other than Canseco because he claims he did it, do we “know for sure about”?
    how do you know for sure what your name is? how do you know that the birth certificate you have is really you?
    it wouldn’t be the first time someone was switched at birth.

    jeez. how are seamheads so bad at other aspects of understanding how scientific facts are made?

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    • Yeah says:

      How do I even know you exist? After all the only thing I can prove, for certain, is my own existence,”I think, therefor I am”. Everything else I have to rely on reasonable evidence.

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      • soupman says:

        Not to get into a first-year philosophy debate, but you aren’t god. at least, i have no proof you are, other than you’re claim to be the foundation of all human knowledge…which i reject.

        we do reach the same conclusion about relativism: rely on the material and base understandings on that…i just tend to think that apparatuses are more reliable witnesses than lawyers and others with vested interests. experts have said that the time and temperature fluctuations the braun sample COULD have undergone would not account for the synthetic testosterone in the urine. so, that might not mean he’s guilty to some, but it sure as hell doesn’t mean he’s innocent as others have proclaimed.

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      • Yeah says:

        You misunderstand, I was agreeing with you. I’m trying to point out the ridiculousness of the idea that because we don’t know with 100% certainty that we can’t draw conclusions.

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  43. soupman says:

    people saying that the chain of custody impacts the results have no idea what they’re talking about.

    you’re ASSUMING that mlb policy is based on scientific study. NO ONE defending Braun has presented a convincing account of how synthetic testosterone got into his sample, let alone at the ratio they found it.

    Instead of educating yourselves about the science of urology and PED testing, those proclaiming his innocence are simply making tons of assumptions based on the findings of a panel in which 1 person effectively made the decision (since the mlbpa and mlb’s positions were easy to guess). Instead of asking for the EVIDENCE to judge for yourselves, you’re just assuming the right decision was made.

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    • jorgath says:

      It doesn’t matter.

      We know it was handled in a different manner than all other valid tests. The slightest variation theoretically could affect the test, but that’s not important. What’s important is that valid tests are valid because they all use the same method, so they can be compared against a test of control samples. The method on this test was different due to human error, therefore this test is not scientifically comparable to the same control tests, therefore it is not valid.

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      • soupman says:

        “Theoretically could affect” according to…? Braun’s lawyers and Das?

        Is the chain of custody in MLB something that reflects the scientific evidence, or just an arbitrary matter of policy? I don’t know. I would like to understand more about the science in use.

        So far the “expert” opinions people are basing their opinion on are being inferred from what Braun’s lawyers have said, or taking what WADA and other organizations with vested interests have to say.

        I’m sure there are urologists out there who can speak to how a sample would degrade over time. How, synthetic testosterone showed up in 2 different types of tests from Braun’s piss is something that seems interesting to me, that I’d like to know more about.

        Expiating Braun based on assumptions and heresay is just as fraught as those who continue to assume he is definitely guilty.

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      • Kellin says:

        The variation is not in the scientific method of Urinalysis, it is in the procedures codified between MLB and MLBPA.

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      • Joe says:

        Well in theory if a sample was stored in a refrigerator at 39C as opposed to 40C one could argue “we don’t know” what effect that might have.

        However since this is not the stone age, these things can actually be determined…. perhaps not to a 99.9999999% certainty but clearly the effect of time and/or temperature can be (and should be) assessed and is measurable. Of course at that point it becomes a question of whether you believe the conditions the courier claims and that he didn’t microwave it for fun.

        One could argue no 2 urine samples of the >2000 collected every year have the same “control”, but it would be insane to argue that means the testing is invalid. There is obviously a range of “acceptable” conditions both in terms of time and temperature (and maybe secondary things like altitude)

        This ‘it was different” argument and that’s all that matters is completely ridiculous without knowing if the differences actually impact the results of either test (the T ratio or the more detailed secondary test).

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  44. Bip says:

    As a Dodger fan, I hear the worst of it. Anything to get MLB to take his MVP away and give it to Kemp. I don’t even want to try to remember what Bill Plaschke wrote about the test when it came out.

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  45. MalinsDad says:

    Braun’s lawyers identified the flaws in the chain of evidence and determined that is the best way to make their client win. That is the primary goal, and I believe it is inappropriate to be angry or question why Braun and his lawyers decided to pursue this path rather than question the test results themselves.

    This is simply fair trial and Braun is not obligated to fulfil or conform to the preferred method of fans to satisfy their needs, curiosity or their perceived demands to know the truth. The trial was just, and people should get over the technicality.

    As for the samples themselves, I have worked with urine samples all my life,
    and I can think of one reason that can modify the T/E ratio and it is genetics. About 17%-18% of the world’s population has a genetic tendency to
    have a higher than normal testosterone glucuronide (TG) excretion that is associated with a specific allele. A person that has two copies of
    that alele is more likely to have false-positive result on urine testosterone testing.

    I am not sure if Braun or the lawyers are aware of this condition, nor am I sure if the testing facility used for the test accounted for this possibility. So this is a way for Braun to show his innocence if he wants to.

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    • soupman says:

      What court did this trial take place in? I will attempt to acquire the public records of the testimony presented.

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    • Pennant says:

      well in that case, wouldnt .17 x .17= 2.5% of MLBers have a + test?
      we do not have all the facts of testing, but i hope MLB doesnt use a test that up front has such a high false+.

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  46. jim says:

    can we PLEASE stop saying “steroids” in relation to this? braun tested positive for SYNTHETIC TESTOSTERONE, NOT STEROIDS.

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    • Yeah says:

      Testosterone is an anabolic steroid, dude.

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      • jim says:

        testosterone is a steroid in the technical sense, as in the family of hydrocarbons. it is not an anabolic steroid. anabolic steroids are synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the effects of testosterone and androgen. ryan braun did not test positive for anabolic steroids.

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      • Yeah says:

        I don’t think that’s true in the literal sense. An anabolic steroid is a steroid with anabolic properties which include building up tissues and organs, which testosterone does. Regardless, testosterone is still a steroid, which was your original point.

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      • jim says:

        because in the lexicon “steroids” means “anabolic steroids.”

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      • Yeah says:

        Even by your own definition of anabolic Steroids Braun did test positive for them. You defined them as synthetic chemicals meant to mimic the effects of testosterone or androgen, Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone, what do you think that is?

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  47. hk says:

    According to Lester Munson’s article on ESPN.com, the sample sat in a Tupperware container on the collector’s desk for two days, not in a refrigerator. Also according to Munson’s sources, Braun’s attorneys offered that Braun would take a DNA test to compare to the sample to determine if the urine was Braun’s and MLB declined the offer. I am scientifically illiterate, so – assuming Munson’s sources are correct – it would be helpful to know from those more scientifically informed if (a) the sample being on a desk in a Tupperware container for two days could impact the test and (b) there is a logical reason that MLB would decline this offer.

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    • Rob says:

      A) there is no scenario short of tampering that would have introduced synthetic testosterone into an otherwise clean sample

      B) DNA tests are not part of the protocol laid out in the agreement with the MLBPA, so to oblige Braun’s offer would likely be viewed as a slippery slope to the MLB legal braintrust.

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  48. CircleChange11 says:

    I thought this article was going to be about those that “knew” he was clean and are using the over-ruled decision due to a technicality to treat the situation as a “non-positive test”.

    Turns out only those that still believe he was dirty employ the confirmation bias. *Shrugs*

    Opinions should change as the data changes. In this case, I think the data has only changed slightly. There was still a positive test, only now there’s less certainty in the test.

    I think we should be looking at data that explains what reasonable affect the variance in procedure might have on the sample. It’s not all that difficult to run experiments showing what affect non-refrigeration (or whatever it was) has on urine samples and positive test. The data could show zero/minimal affect or even 95% affect and that would drastically change how we look at the situation.

    What gets me is when people mention aspects of the procedure and seemt o have some idea of how that affects the sample, and I don;t think we readers know our asses from our elbows in regards to what affect variances in procedures have on urine samples.

    FWIW, a guy I work with knows a guy who has this cousin that works with this other dude that has a brother-in-law that went to college with another dude who thinks that Braun and the lab technician are gay lovers and the techie intentionally left the urine sample out of the fridhe to give Braun an out … or he really just likes to sit next to Braun’s urine … y’know either way.

    Lotta talk about stuff we really lack the expertise to talk about authoratively.

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  49. “I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean. I have no idea if he used steroids or not, just like I have no idea if Roy Halladay has used steroids or whether Dee Gordon has used steroids. I’m just not in any position to have any kind of opinion on what they have or haven’t done.”

    I believe you do have enough information to form a justified belief on Braun. Don’t confuse the formation of a justified belief with the formation of a certain (or even near-certain) belief. Let’s look at our facts:

    -Braun tested positive.
    -The sample did not follow the proper chain of custody.
    -There is little scientific evidence to show that T-levels would suddenly increase just because a sample sat around (I am basing this off comments from people with a science background).
    -There is little evidence that the sample was actually tampered with in anyway.

    Given this information, I believe that we can justifiably form the belief that “Ryan Braun used some sort of illegal substance.”

    (Not to say that the arbitrator came to the incorrect ruling…the MLB and MLBPA agreed to specific procedures that were not followed, so it makes sense that he won the appeal.)

    In general, it seems like you are employing too high of a standard for a justified belief.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason says:

      In fact, Dave Cameron’s belief that there is no evidence or evidence equal to players like Roy Halladay, is clearly unjustified (and perhaps due to confirmation bias).

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    • bstar says:

      @Rational, you forgot one important fact of the case. Ryan Braun PASSED A LIE DETECTOR TEST claiming his total innocence.

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    • bstar says:

      Here’s some more facts you left off:

      Braun tested positive on a sample tainted by COC command.

      Braun’s level of testosterone was at least 3x higher than any previous positive test.

      Braun offered to take a DNA test to test whether it was actually his urine in the sample.

      Braun showed no physical evidence, body shape-wise, or performance-wise, that he received some sort of artificial spike in his ability to hit better.

      Given this information, I believe than we can justifiably form the belief that Ryan Braun “didn’t use some sort of illegal substance”.

      I’m just applying the logic you used.

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      • “Braun tested positive on a sample tainted by COC command.”
        Unless you can show a reason why the improper chain of custody changed the sample in any way, this is not worth much.

        “Braun’s level of testosterone was at least 3x higher than any previous positive test.”
        Again, without an explanation of why this was so (like leaving the sample out for two days would increase the synthetic-T count…something the science-types have denied). this is not worth much. Without such an explanation, it seems most likely that he tested so high because his synthetic T count was that high.

        “Braun offered to take a DNA test to test whether it was actually his urine in the sample.”
        This does not seem too relevant.

        “Braun showed no physical evidence, body shape-wise, or performance-wise, that he received some sort of artificial spike in his ability to hit better.”
        This is definitely irrelevant. The question is not whether he gained an advantage. The question is whether he tested for high synthetic T count. High T count also would not necessarily lead to massive bodily changes.

        The only interesting and relevant point you bring up is the passing of the lie detector test. I would be interested to know more, e.g. what questions were asked, how did he respond to them, who conducted the test, who witnessed the test, etc. The claim “he passed a lie detector test” is EXTREMELY vague.

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      • Pennant says:

        Wasn’t Jason Grimsley and Juan Rincon PED users? Could you tell by their stats?

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      • bstar says:

        “Braun tested positive on a sample tainted by COC command.”
        Unless you can show a reason why the improper chain of custody changed the sample in any way, this is not worth much.

        Unless you can show that the sample wasn’t changed in any way, your counter-argument isn’t worth much.

        “Braun’s level of testosterone was at least 3x higher than any previous positive test.”
        Again, without an explanation of why this was so (like leaving the sample out for two days would increase the synthetic-T count…something the science-types have denied). this is not worth much. Without such an explanation, it seems most likely that he tested so high because his synthetic T count was that high.

        No, it doesn’t “seem likely” if it was the strangest positive count ever.

        “Braun offered to take a DNA test to test whether it was actually his urine in the sample.”
        This does not seem too relevant.

        It becomes relevant when you hear that MLB refused his request.

        “Braun showed no physical evidence, body shape-wise, or performance-wise, that he received some sort of artificial spike in his ability to hit better.”
        This is definitely irrelevant. The question is not whether he gained an advantage. The question is whether he tested for high synthetic T count. High T count also would not necessarily lead to massive bodily changes

        OK. Good point.

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      • Joe says:

        So like everyone else who wants to look the other way….. “mishandling” the sample is just assumed to account for the test results even though Braun and his team have offered no actual supporting evidence that this is the case.

        A mass spec test found evidence of a banned, exogenous substance…. you think urine sitting at room temperature just magically starts synthesizing it? While I’m not a biologist, there are people in the know who talk about the possibility of that being true:

        http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/page/OTL-Ryan-Braun/ryan-braun-defense-raises-more-questions-doping-experts

        “The IRMS test determined that the testosterone in Braun’s sample was synthetic. Catlin and other experts said they do not believe it is possible that a sample could somehow develop exogenous testosterone, unless it were tampered with.”

        Also the article completely dismisses your claim that his T level was 3X more than anything ever seen… An expert talks bout how he has seen ratios as high as 100:1; maybe it wasn’t baseball, but maybe baseball players haven’t caught up with other dopers and Braun just has better access/is closer to the cutting edge.

        I have no problems with him avoiding a suspension given the handling procedure was not followed exactly, but let’s not confuse mishandling the sample with invalidating the test result; it just invalidates the ability to suspend him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bstar says:

        Except for the fact that mishandling the sample DID invalidate the test result. Once COC was broken, the sample should not have even been tested.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  50. deadhead says:

    Demanding rules be followed is not a loophole.

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  51. Landon says:

    Calling the opinion that Braun probably used steroids “confirmation bias” is absurd; the public does, in this case, actually have a fairly large amount of information pertaining to this case, and the vast majority of it points to him having used steroids. Unless the information we have is patently false, there is a very strong likelihood (not a certainty) that he was simply let off on a contract technicality.

    -The courier that stored the sample did so properly, and according to agents of the company that run the test, what he did was not at all uncommon and they are trained for this exact circumstance, should it arise. It just so happens that MLB drew up the contract in an such a way that it was not explicitly allowed, but many other sports leagues and the olympics allow this process.

    -The head of the testing lab said that the sample was sealed and not tampered with; the players themselves sign the seal on the sample, so unless there was a serious conspiracy going on with high-level forgery, tampering, etc. it was his.

    - He failed two drug tests, not just the one with the COC questions.

    I think that if the contract did not explicitly allow what the courier did, he was rightfully found not guilty in appeal, but that is NOT the same thing as declaring him innocent. Some serious conspiracy theories are required to believe anything other than he was almost certainly juicing. Occam’s razor applies here. Denigrating people’s mental faculties for drawing logical conclusions from the available evidence is frankly ridiculous.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. Eddie says:

    So then how did that urine sample end up stuffed with synthetic testosterone, Dave? Occam’s Razor, my friend.

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  53. pft says:

    We know he tested positive in 2 tests, T/E and CIR.

    We know that no evidence of tampering was detected (broken seal)

    The lab found no evidence of sample degradation due to storage.

    Studies have shown that samples can be stored for 7 days at 37 deg C w/o affecting T/E results.

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/51373353_Stability_studies_of_testosterone_and_epitestosterone_glucuronides_in_urine

    We know that MLB procedures allow for samples not to be sent t Fed Ex on the same day in unusual cases (as does WADA)

    http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

    Those are the facts. I am all for Braun avoiding suspension as a punitive measure for MLB not following protocol (assuming the Fed Ex office was open), but the case for adding him to the list of known PED users is strong.

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  54. pft says:

    The chaperone being the collectors son bothers me the more I think about it. This makes the sample being stored at home for 44 hrs more of an issue since the son might have tampered with it as a prank knowing whose sample it was. The collector may have had to reseal it thinking it was broken accidentally.

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    • This is pure speculation with no evidence. This should barely factor into our belief formation process (if at all).

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    • Yeah says:

      It would be impossible to replace the seal. The original seal is signed by both the original tester and Ryan Braun, both signatures could not be replicated. Also, the original seal has a bar code placed on it that is scanned and matched when it arrives at the laboratory and is unique to only the original seal. So there is no way the seal was broken at any point or replaced at any point.

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      • pft says:

        I thought the collector could replace the seal with another, and redo the paperwork. Also, I did not read anywhere in the JDA where Brauns signature is on the seal.

        Maybe I am wrong.

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      • pft says:

        This is wrong actually. From the JDA

        ‘The Collector must ask the player to verify that the Specimen I.D. numbers on the top of the chain-of-custody form match those on the security seals. The Collector will then peel the back of the security seals and place them over the bottle caps and down the sides of the bottles that contain the urine. The Collector shall make sure that the security seal for the primary (or “A) specimen is placed on the specimen bottle containing at least 50 ml of urine; and the security seal for the split (or “B”) specimen is placed on the specimen bottle containing at least 25 ml of urine. Only the Collector shall initial and date the security seals.”

        Only the collector initials the seal (no signature). It seems like the collector could just use a new security seal and alter or create a new chain of custody form.

        The procedures do not seem to rule out possible tampering by the collector (or his chaperone in this case).

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    • Shane says:

      I think that their are alot of problems with the couriers son being Braun’s chaperone. You make the case above that the son might have pulled some type of prank and fudged Brauns urine.I think what worries me more is that the couriers son has at least some type of relationship with Braun that potentially allows the couriers son to benefit in a number of ways including financially. Look I dont know the particulars but I will speculate this: Is it not plausible that Braun knew he was gonna “pop hot” for PED’s so he convinced the courier, in the best interest of the courier’s son and perhaps the courier himself to mess up the chain of custody issue, so Braun’s attorney could later punch holes in MLB’s case against him. I would like to see further invetigation into who the courier was, how close the courier and his son are to Braun and perhaps the Brewers and last but not least how in the world did the couriers son end up being Braun’s chaperone.

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      • Long Gone says:

        Funny you mention that. I was speaking to a friend of mine that is a sherif. He knows absolutely nothing about baseball. I told him about the Ryan Braun situation and the first thing he said was, the courrier got paid to mess up the chain of custody. I had never even considered that.

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  55. Jon says:

    This case provides “confirmation bias” on both sides. If you want to believe this neanderthal slugger is a cheat, you have the failed test and the testosterone levels to wave around. If you want to believe that Braun is pure and a pristine model of the new, complete ball player, then you can wave his acquittal and technical improprieties with the chain of custody about. Either way, if you want to believe something, you have plenty of ammunition to believe it.

    He is either guilty or not. But there is no denying that probabilistically, he is now more likely to be guilty given our evidence now as compared to 6 months ago. Is that increased likelihood slight or severe? Decide yourself.

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  56. PackBob says:

    MLB and the Players Union are the parents and we are the kids who have been sent to bed early so they can discuss”adult” things. Heck, we don’t even know if what we are being told is accurate or inclusive of all pertinent facts, much less the specifics of the testing process.

    This is like trying to judge guilt or innocence based on a half-hour 20/20 murder trial segment.

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  57. Chris says:

    I really don’t see how confirmation bias necessarily applies here, though it may in regards to some who hold this position. What we have is an undisputed positive test vs circumstantial evidence which opens the door to the possibility of tampering. (Which is essentialy what the Braun camp is arguing at this point, even if they can’t outright say it)

    It seems to me that Occam’s razor can be applied quite nicely in a situation like this one. Succinctly stated from via wikipedia Occams razor is:

    a principle that generally recommends that, from among competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one.

    So which of our hypotheses satisfies Occam’s razor? The one in which we have a urine sample that was shown scientifically to contain a banned substance, or the one in which we must entertain the possibility that the sample was tampered with. Keep in mind also that we also need to come up with an adequate explanation as to how this may have happened as the seals were not broken, nevermind the “why” and the “who”

    Anticpating an objection, I should point out that while circumstantal evidence is of course completely valid in some instances, contrary to popular belief, the inference required to connect the dots in this instance would be an extraordinarily weak one, IMO.

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  58. cwendt says:

    1. There is chain of custody & then “chain of custody.” The sample was delayed, but there was no evidence of tampering. There is no reason to believe that refrigerating a sample in that manner would cause exogenous testosterone to appear.

    Braun’s only defense is that somehow the sample collector put something in his test. Which…why, exactly?

    2. Exogenous testosterone does not just “appear” over time. If something “decayed” into exogenous testosterone, that’s what everyone would dope with.

    3. Braun’s result of 20:1 was the highest recorded for a baseball player. But not for an athlete. Bodybuilders have had results of 100:1.

    Stop being an apologist.

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  59. Paul C. says:

    Several commenters have defended Braun by asserting that the positive test carries no weight because it was not handled according to the procedures outlined in the MLB policy. This is a pure argument of form and puzzlingly elevates the lawyers who drafted the procedure language in the policy some kind of scientific authority. The substance, based on facts to come out of the arbitration hearing, is that nothing happened to the sample that would have any impact on its integrity. It was stored in a refrigerator, which is consistent with policy in all comprehensive anti-doping policies, the seals to the samples were not broken, and there is simply no such thing as a sample “decaying” or “altering” in a way that introduces synthetic testosterone.

    Just because the policy was written in such a way that the handling of the sample here was a violation of the policy (or the policy was silent with respect to the circumstances here), does not mean we can now attribute scientific significance to how it calls for the handling of the sample. Under every other similarly comprehensive anti-doping policy, this sequence of events would not call a positive test into question. It was an unlikely accident that the MLB policy was written this way and that the courier handling the sample didn’t get it to an overnight courier service in time on Saturday night. Unless, as part of some ingenious and sinister plot to frame Ryan Braun, someone was able to add evidence of synthetic testosterone to the sample without breaking the seals, this was a positive test. And he did get off on a technicality.

    Whether the positive test means that he was indeed juicing in another story. But he tested positive.

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  60. kid says:

    Why do fans care about whether MLB players take PEDs? We sign up for the game for entertainment purposes, and as long as we remain entertained, why do we care about the manner in which the entertainment is provided? Clean or using? Legit or cheating? Why does it matter? We pay money and pay attention to see an athletic spectacle, not to get lessons in morality and lessons being a positive role model. Some of the most successful baseball players of the past two decades – McGwire, Sosa, Rodriguez, Palimero, Clemens, Canseco, Giambi, Manny – have either tested positive or have admitted to using. If anything, we can say that these guys using PEDs have provided incredible entertainment value, and isn’t that what we are paying for? If you disagree with the notion of “cheating”, is it more that you feel cheated out of your money? Or more that you disagree with the players’ dishonesty towards their employers? If you are concerned with the players’ health for using, that is incredibly commendable, but it is not your job to be. Nobody will ever know the true impact of PED substances on a person’s ability to play – and succeed – at baseball. Yes, some of baseball’s biggest stars ever have admitted to using. But at the same time, plenty of names on the Mitchell report were of unremarkable major or minor leaguers, so it’s not the case that PEDs are some magic elixir. Any time the issue of PEDs occurs in baseball it makes every single person involved look bad – the MLB, its players, the testers – everybody. Not a single soul comes out “ahead” during these witch hunts. At this point, is all of the commotion about using really worth the damage it does to the sport and the millions who love it?

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    • jeff_bonds says:

      Because it gives a competitive edge to players that use it. Ideally, you want baseball or any sports to be about athletes and their performances. And there’s the threat of technology becoming too important. We don’t want baseball to be about who has the better PEDs.

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  61. LOL. When I read the title, I assumed it was about Braun’s confirmation bias that the 2-1 arbitration finding overturning his suspension was proof he did not use steroids.

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  62. Train says:

    Bottom line is: Braun is not suspended and everything was done according to the rules. End of story.

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  63. gnomez says:

    I can feel fairly confident Dee Gordon has never used steroids. Maybe weight-loss pills, but never steroids.

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  64. Devizier says:

    ‘I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean. I have no idea if he used steroids or not, just like I have no idea if Roy Halladay has used steroids or whether Dee Gordon has used steroids.”

    I don’t know if Braun has used steroids, either. But there’s an element of doubt about his performance that Halladay and Gordon do not – and will not, barring positive test results – have to face. Unfair? Sure. But that’s reality.

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  65. vilhelm says:

    This issue of logically establishing truth may require further ampification, and, as a fellow lawyer, would like to help elucidate.

    Confirmation bias is also known as a “rush to judgement”. That is, if you suspect something to be true, then, legally, it absolutely cannot be because of the very fact that you SUSPECTED it was true. The only way a fact can be true, for instance, someone guilty of using peds, is that the fact is not SUSPECTED TO BE TRUE PRIOR TO CONVICTION. Here, obviously Braun was SUSPECTED of using peds prior to his being convicted of using peds if the ruling had gone down as upholding the suspicion. Ergo, the fact that has been established is that Braun is “innocent of using peds, or, in other words, there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY BRAUN HAS EVER USED PEDS.

    The more strongly you suspect something of being true, then the more certain that it never happened.

    Us lawyers need to be more clear on this stuff, because most people can’t thing as logically as us.

    Glad to help.

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