Ryan Braun and Type I vs. Type II Error

I’ll echo Dave Cameron and start by saying I do not know if Ryan Braun cheated. What we do know is that he will not be facing a suspension based on his October 2011 drug test. The independent arbitrator determined that the irregularities in the process were serious enough to warrant tossing out the apparently positive test. It is worth noting that the arbitrator did not declare Braun “innocent,” rather he simply refused to uphold the “guilty” result. In social science terms, the arbitrator decided the risk of making a Type I error was greater than a Type II error. A Type I error occurs when a null hypothesis –- in this case that Braun was clean –- is rejected despite being true. The flipside is a Type II error where a null hypothesis is maintained –- again Braun is clean –- when rejection of the null is warranted.

The fact that the arbitrator decided to potentially commit a Type II error is certainly good news for Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers, but is this good for Major League Baseball? I would argue yes. Our society has a long history of preferring Type II errors to Type I errors. The best example is our criminal justice system. Defendants are assumed innocent until proven guilty. A defendant does not have to prove that he or she is innocent of the crime he or she has been charged with, he or she simply has to raise enough reasonable doubt to prevent the state from proving that they did in fact commit the crime. This bias towards Type II errors is often controversial, as there are cases where many people believe that a guilty defendant was freed through the trial process (i.e. e.g. Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson), but our society still supports a system that attempts to minimize the extent to which innocent individuals are falsely convicted.

Regardless of your view of Braun’s culpability it is hard to make a credible argument that MLB should be more accepting of Type I error than the criminal justice system. In the criminal cases cited above we know for a fact that a crime was committed, but the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was the guilty party. The implications of a Type II error in a criminal case are immense, including putting innocent human beings at risk of continued criminal activity by the defendant. In the case of a drug testing controversy, by definition we do not even know for sure that a violation occurred, as such there is less risk that a violation will go unpunished. I would also argue that unlike in a criminal case, making a Type II error in a drug-testing regime does not increase the risk of future policy violations. The fact that this result was overturned does not exclude Braun from the testing program going forward, if anything it may increase the amount of scrutiny he is under.

In the criminal justice system, a Type I error can result in an individual spending a portion of his or her life unjustly incarcerated. This loss of freedom has tremendous effects on an individual’s personal life, not to mention the person’s ability to make a living. For an elite professional athlete, the costs of a Type I error are surely less severe than incarceration, but it still represents an unjust shortening of the amount of time they can spend in their profession and an undue stain on their personal and professional reputations. A Type I error hurts the team the player is under contract with, the competitive balance of the league, and it deprives fans of seeing the best athletes playing the game.

Some will argue that the Braun case calls into question the integrity of many aspects of the game, including Braun’s N.L. MVP award and the results of the Brewers’ games last year. This is certainly true. However, a suspension of Braun for 2012 was never going to change any results from 2011. If anything I think the ultimate fallout from this case will be positive. Given MLB’s reaction to the decision it seems likely that changes will be made to the testing regime in the wake of this case that will hopefully further minimize the probability of both Type I and Type II errors in the future, a result that MLB, the players, and fans alike should be rooting for.



Print This Post



I am political science professor at the University of North Carolina. I grew up watching the Braves on TBS and acquired Red Sox fandom during the 1986 World Series. My other hobbies include cooking, good red wine, curing meats, and obsessing over Alabama football---Roll Tide! Follow me on Twitter @ProfJRoberts.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 4 months ago

A Type I error occurs when a null hypothesis –- in this case that Braun was clean –- is rejected despite being true.

Wow, you must be privy to some pretty inside information if you know that Braun was doping. Because all I heard was that a urine sample that may or may not have been Braun’s and may or may not have been mishandled or contaminated tested positive for an unknown substance.

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 4 months ago

really are we now so blind that we are saying it wasnt even brauns urine? come on

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 4 months ago

1) This is part of why chain-of-custody rules exist in the first place. 2) The only evidence we have that the sample didn’t get swapped is the word of the tester. 3) Braun offered to have a DNA test to confirm that the sample was his, and MLB refused.

Yirmiyahu
Member
4 years 4 months ago

And I wasn’t saying it wasn’t his urine. I’m just saying that the possibility exists, and when it comes to ruining a guy’s career, you should have pretty strong standards of proof.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago

no the possibility that it wasn’t his does not exist:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-passan_ryan_braun_drug_test_appeal_manfred_022412

Now we know that it remained in the sealed cooler, that it would have been in anyway if it had been given to FedEx to ship (per MLB)

That the samples were not compromised or tampered with (per WADA)

And that they had significant levels of Synthetic Testosterone.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Whoa, in drug testing for 25 years, when chain of custody is violated, the sample is discarded and another obtained. Maintaining chain of custody ‘is part of the testing procedure’, period. Pontificating on adulturation or not is irrelevant, the sample should NEVER have been analyzed. If MLB cannot certify chain of custody, they don’t have a drug testing system, they have at best a PR tool.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago

Whoa, despite what Braun and his attorneys would have us believe, chain-of-custody was not broken:

“The extremely experienced collector in Mr. Braun’s case acted in a professional and appropriate manner. He handled Mr. Braun’s sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency. The Arbitrator found that those instructions were not consistent with certain language in our program, even though the instructions were identical to those used by many other drug programs – including the other professional sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 4 months ago

Yirmiyahu:

It is virtually impossible to obtain a DNA profile in a urine sample because urine does not contain nucleated cells. The person giving the sample would have to slough off some skin cells into the urine, or there would have to be a sufficient presence of white blood cells in the urine, which shouldn’t occur unless the person giving the sample has a urinary tract infection. So Ryan Braun’s plea to test the urine for DNA was ridiculous. That such a dubious claim may have carried weight with the arbitrator is all one needs to know about the justice in this case.

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 4 months ago

passan’s credibility and journalistic integrity have been shot with this, as he has become an MLB apologist

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

The fact that the collectors son was the chaperone and the only one other than the collector who knew which sample was Brauns makes me wonder.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Lots of things make me wonder.

1. The courier, and I assume his son, are Cubs fans.
2. When he got “on the stand” to testify at the appeal process, he was so shaken it took him 37 seconds to answer the question, “What is your name?”
3. During the questioning process, he was unable/chose not to make eye contact with Ryan Braun, even once.
4. Ryan Braun PASSED A LIE DETECTOR TEST in which he claimed his total innocence.
5. Ryan Braun quote from yesterday: “I am 100% certain that this substance never, at any time, was in my body.”

What else does the guy have to say?

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

I am referring to the courier taking the stand in #2 above.

Brad
Guest
Brad
4 years 4 months ago

I cringe every time I read “extremely experienced”. How can he have an extreme amount of experience, when he is doing this part time? That’s just silly.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
4 years 4 months ago

4. Ryan Braun PASSED A LIE DETECTOR TEST in which he claimed his total innocence.

That’s not proof of anything, EVEN IF YOU TYPE IT IN ALL CAPS, just as failing a lie detector test is not proof of anything. Per the U.S. Supreme Court: the majority stated that “There is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable.” Per that bastion of semi-reliable generalized knowledge, Wikipedia: a 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the [polygraph] test’s average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance.

5. Ryan Braun quote from yesterday: “I am 100% certain that this substance never, at any time, was in my body.”

Just like Palmeiro, Clemens, etc etc? We’re using his personal denials as evidence of *anything*?!? Wow.

Not saying whether Braun did or did not use any illicit PED’s. Just that some of these claims used in support of him are spurious, at best.

Pete
Guest
Pete
4 years 4 months ago

That’s not what he’s saying….He’s simply illustrating the conditions in which a Type I and Type II error occur.

Good read. I would agree with the points you made about protecting innocence until proven guilty. I’m sure the MLB had a collective heart attack upon reading the judgment for fear of the perception of baseball reverting back to the good ol days of juicing, but it seems like the right call.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

It really changes things when you realize this fact:

Most arbitration cases are NOT judged based on whether “reasonable doubt” was proven;they are judged based on “preponderance of the evidence.”

M.Twain
Guest
M.Twain
4 years 4 months ago

Those are the standards of evidence for criminal cases and civil cases, respectively.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 4 months ago

Yes, he is that blind.

SeanP
Member
SeanP
4 years 4 months ago

He was just stating the null hypothesis while defining Type I and Type II error.

If it helps, just remember that the null hypothesis is that Braun was clean, and read it like this:

“A Type I error occurs when a null hypothesis is rejected despite being true. The flipside is a Type II error where a null hypothesis is maintained when rejection of the null is warranted.”

Sammy
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

In laymans terms:

To believe something that isn’t true.

Or,

To not believe something that is true.

Opposite roads to the same conclusion, where ‘truth’ is indiscernible based on doubt.

M.Twain
Guest
M.Twain
4 years 4 months ago

Homer: Wait a minute. That word you keep calling me?
Artie: Ignoramus?
Homer: Ignoramus! It means I’m stupid, doesn’t it?
Artie: There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity.
Homer: Not to me there isn’t, you–

grievousangel312
Member
grievousangel312
4 years 4 months ago

Excellent definition. I work in public health research, and this was one of the hardest things for me to learn to keep straight when I first started my MPH program.

Bill but not Ted
Guest
Bill but not Ted
4 years 4 months ago

Please do not be swayed by large +numbers or -minus numbers for two reasons

1) Peer pressure. when internet users see +26, they want to be part of the club that liked that or agree with that post. They feel insecure if they are not

2) I find that the majority opinion/belief is usually incorrect (I.E. despite drunken fanfare from Minnesota and popular images, Vikings never actually wore horned helmets)

cteno
Guest
cteno
4 years 4 months ago

Mr. Roberts is correct in the preference for Type II over Type I errors. I am still not convinced however that the legal system is the best analogy. With civil cases the burden of proof is not as great and we see situations like OJ Simpson where a defendant is unsuccessful in civil court but acquitted in the criminal court.

As a doctor, and not a lawyer, I am concerned about the presence of synthetic testosterone in his sample. If the sample was not tampered with, and it was testified by the laboratory technician that is was not, then this is damning evidence. It should be noted that ESPN reported that Braun’s legal team did not contest integrity of the sample. Type I or Type II errors or confirmation bias or any other intellectual explanation does not change that damning fact of synthetic testosterone. While we can’t KNOW all of us are correct to strongly believe that Mr. Braun is a cheat.

DJG
Guest
DJG
4 years 4 months ago

Hear, hear. It’s perfectly reasonable to understand the logical behind error types and confirmation bias, to objectively look at the evidence, and come to the opinion that Ryan Braun’s did ingest a banned substance. (I realize the author isn’t drawing a conclusion one way or the the other on this.)

Bill but not Ted
Guest
Bill but not Ted
4 years 4 months ago

Not here not here

I never rule out the possiblility of conspiracy. A well executed conspiracy would leave you believing the same thing.

I would rather be a skeptic then duped

mailinator
Guest
mailinator
4 years 4 months ago

The presence of synthetic testosterone was something that has not been confirmed beyond the original leaker’s report (To say that the leaks have been inconsistent should be an unnecessary reminder at this point) and has not actually been confirmed: https://twitter.com/#!/injuryexpert/status/173419226189672448

the hottest stove
Guest
the hottest stove
4 years 4 months ago

The “something cannot appear from nothing” argument is incredibly powerful in this circumstance. It, like the sample itself, is pretty airtight. Not to get way off topic, but as silly as it sounds, hearing this argument used makes me think more fully about about the big bang theory….. We really have no idea where we came from, so we should probably work to figure that out. Get on it scientists and philosophers!!

Phew…good thing i didn’t get way off topic…

Matthias
Member
Member
4 years 4 months ago

“A Type I error occurs when a null hypothesis –- in this case that Braun was clean –- is rejected despite being true.”

@Yirmiyahu

Jason is just defining what a type I error is so he can talk about the effects of each type of error. Common statistical methods involve reducing the probability of a type-I error (to 5 or 1% often). In Braun’s case, since we “didn’t reject innocence” we only have the chance of making a type II error, which is to say, the chance of error that we have to tolerate by choosing to accept innocence when guilt is, at the very least, plausible. I don’t believe Jason is claiming that an error was made, he’s just pointing out what type of error MAY have been made, and how our system allows for higher type II error rates.

MalinsDad
Member
MalinsDad
4 years 4 months ago

Just want to add to the DNA discussion. DNA can be obtained from urine because small amounts of cells from the ureters and urinary bladder that can mix with urine as it passes to the urinary tract.

Actually, it is not unusual for an average person to have small amounts of epithelial cells in his/her urine, and certain techniques exist, it is possible to isolate DNA from small amounts of cells. So Braun’s claim for DNA testing is not unreasonable.

As for chain of custody rules, the actions of the custodian were acceptable and based on generally accepted methods of sample handling. However, it doesn’t matter because of the specific wordings of MLB’s program. Furthermore, the sample should not have been tested in the first place because the guidelines were not followed.

P
Guest
P
4 years 4 months ago

Then why would MLB go after him? They rather have the positive test go away.. I have no idea why some think MLB would want this fiasco on their hand…

deadhead
Member
deadhead
4 years 4 months ago

I guess the first change MLB will make will be committing to follow their own procedures.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago

I dunno the Director of the World Anti Doping Agency just quoted by the AP that Braun would’ve lost his appeal in any case that adhered to WADA rules rather than the special codes agreed upon by MLB and MLBPA. That the Director of the lab in Montreal testified that the sample “had not been compromised or tampered with.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/chief-says-braun-wouldnt-have-been-cleared-under-wada-code/2012/02/24/gIQAYy0SYR_story.html

Bill but not Ted
Guest
Bill but not Ted
4 years 4 months ago

Irrelevant

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
4 years 4 months ago

Unless I’m deciding if I want to be a baseball fan or not.

mailinator
Guest
mailinator
4 years 4 months ago

from the article: David Howman, the director general of WADA, said in a statement Friday that in a case following WADA code, “the athlete would have to show that the departure from the rule caused the adverse finding. That is not the situation in this case.”

However, it is being reported that Braun’s attorney did show that the conditions caused the adverse findings:
http://audio.weei.com/a/52238582/will-carroll-si-com-on-ryan-braun-s-50-game-suspension-being-overturned.htm

Hard to know who has what information at this point

Anton Sirius
Guest
Anton Sirius
4 years 4 months ago

Did anyone else hear the Law & Order announcer guy in their head reading that second-last paragraph… ?

Nice work Jason, and that goes out to everyone across the internets pushing back against the “Braun got off on a technicality” narrative.

Sammy
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the major league baseball, who investigate crime; and the players attorneys, who fuck up everything. These are their stories.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago
jim
Guest
jim
4 years 4 months ago

“We are convinced the leak didn’t come from the commissioner’s office.”

of course you are, because if you said anything else, it would put the program into even further question and it would be an even worse PR situation

BillWallace
Guest
BillWallace
4 years 4 months ago

Good article, I don’t have much to add. I agree, and I’m glad our culture prefers Type II errors.

Tyler
Guest
Tyler
4 years 4 months ago

I agree with your assessment. This case doesn’t prove that Braun is innocent of breaking the rules but it does show a weakness in the current testing system and procedures. I think this will serve to help MLB tighten up protocol on the process which will help ensure more integrity and less room for error. Braun very well may have doped but one way or another his case being overturned will only serve to help improve the system and help prevent future cases of doping in MLB. I can’t see that as a bad thing. Even if Braun did get away with breaking the rules, his case will help prevent him and others from getting away with similar infractions in the future.

andromache
Guest
andromache
4 years 4 months ago

I’m really sorry that the first comment here completely, and totally misunderstood the entire basis of your article.

But I do think that there’s a credible argument for MLB to be more accepting of Type I errors than the criminal justice system, for the reasons you touched on: the penalties are less serious.

Also, players are voluntarily working in a field where the scrutiny for steroids right now is very high. Obviously, I’m not saying that players should just stop playing if they can’t stand being arbitrarily accused and punished – but I think there is greater latitude, theoretically, for lowering the standard of proof.

In the immediate case of Braun – what he’s ‘volunteered for’ by playing for Major League Baseball is the balance struck in the joint agreement, and he deserves to be judged by that standard based on contract or labor relations, at the very least.

Ben
Guest
Ben
4 years 4 months ago

How can you get Type I vs Type II right but mess up i.e., vs e.g., ? ;-)

kick me in the GO NATS
Guest
kick me in the GO NATS
4 years 4 months ago

think about it

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 4 months ago

Jason’s underlying value system is spurious. Not only is it not “hard to make a credible argument that MLB should be more accepting of Type I error than the criminal justice system”, it is ludicrous to argue that any non-criminal system should have the same approach to Type I errors. The workplace, civil courts, they all balance more toward ‘most evidence wins’ rather than a full presumption of innocence. It’s incredible of Jason to even argue otherwise, nevermind claiming that’s it’s not even credible.

Really, fangraphs is going incredibly out of its way to be awful regarding an issue easily resolved by saying, “they broke an evidentiary rule they said they would keep, so that’s the way it goes.”

soupman
Member
soupman
4 years 4 months ago

I think there are far too many Michael Bluths (always wanted to be a lawyer) in the peanut gallery on this issue who don’t get the simple fact that this wasn’t a trial.

I don’t know the science behind this stuff, by I’m really intrigued by it. I’ve yet to hear an explanation as to how a few hours of delay cause testosterone levels to skyrocket, but i have heard a lot of non-experts spouting off as if they know for sure.

The reason we come up with apparatuses to do tests like this (and that include the chain-o’-custody) is because they become more reliable witnesses than asking someone if they did X or not. I understand why people accept the ruling, but to me, it seems like the chain of custody is to minimize the time and opportunity for tampering, not because it will cause synthetic testosterone to appear out of nowhere in someone’s urine. I understand that time and temperature will affect samples – but i’d love to learn more.

Michael Bluth
Guest
Michael Bluth
4 years 4 months ago

You’re a crook Captain Hook
Judge Won’t you throw the book
At this piraaaaate

Ronin
Guest
Ronin
4 years 4 months ago

I’m not an expert on drug testing via urine but I do work in the medical field so I have a little knowledge on the subject. The first step in most urine tests is to use a centrifuge to seperate the water from the other substances found in urine. Typically hormones are measured by comparing the amount found to other substances found in the urine such as proteins. Since we know the typical ratios of such substances we can then determine if a certain hormone is present in excess of typical ratios. Exposure to heat can cause evaporation and/or deterioration of certain substances. I dont know the exact science when it comes to all the substances and the temperatures where they begin to deteriorate but that is one way in which improper handling can cause incorrect results.

Now whether the sample in question was actually handled improperly or ever became compromised is any ones guess. I agree with a previous poster that if it was even suspected that there was improper handling the sample should have been discarded without ever testing it.

Ronin
Guest
Ronin
4 years 4 months ago

PS. I am very sure that “synthetic” and “natural” hormones are identical in form and composition, synthetic in this instance merely means that it was not created within the body. I keep reading posts saying that they found synthetic testosterone in Braun’s sample, once it enters the body and is metabolized it would appear the same as his naturally produced testosterone, so they did not find synthetic testosterone in his sample they found only testosterone.

Ronin
Guest
Ronin
4 years 4 months ago

Double PS, apparently I am incorrect in this instance as I confused bio-identical with common parlance synthetic. In this case the synthetic hormone can be detected using a mass spectrometer.

Johnny MacK
Guest
Johnny MacK
4 years 4 months ago

soupman, Diane Modahl’s case showed how testosterone levels could climb in a sample. http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/ou-on-the-bbc-background-brief-testing-the-best-the-story-so-far

I’m not saying that’s what happened to Braun, just pointing out that it’s possible.

soupman
Member
soupman
4 years 4 months ago

I’ve read that time and temperature both affect samples…but I’m not sure how *synthetic* testosterone got in his sample. Maybe he was taking something for hairloss, or whatever, I don’t know…to me it is still a puzzle.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
4 years 4 months ago

Something for hair loss? With that head of hair?

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

So, is it Type I or Type II error when a baseball journalist declares that science spoke and Braun is innocent?

jorgath
Guest
jorgath
4 years 4 months ago

Neither; it’s an error by logical fallacy, not by improper treatment of the null hypothesis. I forget the technical name for the fallacy (is it a strawman variant?), but it’s the one where you claim something is true because something similar is true, even though they’re not the same thing.

In this case, “Ryan Braun’s positive test was overruled” is true. “Ryan Braun has been proven innocent” is a similar statement, but it’s not the same thing.

MEP
Guest
MEP
4 years 4 months ago

I think the first change should be educating the independent arbitrator on the fundamentals and 20+ year history of forensic urine drug testing in the US. This man was obviously completely ignorant of the science, definition of chain of custody and hundreds of legal precedents that would have upheld Braun’s guilt in any other arena. But hey, what does it matter if he engages in illegal activity as long as he can hit a ball. I love baseball, but this decision and Braun’s crowing over his “victory” does the game no credit whatsoever.

CJ
Guest
CJ
4 years 4 months ago

Or maybe people should quit jumping to conclusions when they don’t know what evidence was presented to the arbitration panel. Have you seen the independent aribtrator’s resume? He has a lot more experience than you give him credit for.

deadhead
Member
deadhead
4 years 4 months ago

In science, results are only accepted if they have all been acquired by the same means. If this chain of custom violation is allowed, why not let Braun drop it off at FedEx himself? After all, it was triple sealed. That means it is tamper proof. The player should drop it off himself. Chain of custody is just a technicality.

PHDchemist
Guest
PHDchemist
4 years 4 months ago

Braun got off on a technicality. The only reasonable alternative conclusion is that the person who was in charge of Fedex-ing Braun’s sample deliberately tampered with the sample and somehow made it look like that the sample had not been tampered with. Scientifically, I see no reasonable explanation as to how the chain of custom violation may have caused Braun’s synthetic testosterone levels to go off the charts. Testosterone is a small molecule that is not going to readily degrade at room temperatures. Even if does degrade, synthetic testosterone is measured relative to the normal testosterone levels in someone’s system (why would normal testosterone degrade any faster than synthetic when the only difference is the carbon isotope). Braun is baseball’s doping version of OJ.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Without intact chain of custody, their is no testing “procedure”. Any analyst who knew a priori that chain of custody protocol was violated would have flagged or discarded the sample and demanded a repeat sample. Any analyst who finds a level of testosterone several times the level ever measured by his ‘validated’ procedure would have been dumfounded by the result and flagged the sample as suspect off the bat. From the POV of any professional analytical chemist experienced in drug testing would say this whole thing stinks to high hell.

PHDchemist
Guest
PHDchemist
4 years 4 months ago

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/chief-says-braun-wouldnt-have-been-cleared-under-wada-code/2012/02/24/gIQAYy0SYR_story.html

From a scientific POV, I don’t think many analytical chemists would worry about the scientific validity of a test performed on a testosterone sample that was refrigerated for a day or two rather than FEDEXed immediately on a Saturday night. Even if the FEDEX people received the sample that Saturday night, it would have been kept in dry ice or refrigerated until the sample reached the laboratory. The chain of custody violation does not alter the validity of the scientific tests provided that the sample is Braun’s and has not been tampered with. Again that’s why I’ve said that the only reasonable stance that Braun can take is that his sample was tampered with since it is my understanding that Braun’s sample was divided into two and both showed high levels of synthetic testosterone.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago

The 20:1 result is several times the level of a normal person, Body builders have been found with levels up to 100:1.

I’m pretty sure that the analyst DID flag the sample for review and that’s how we got here.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Chain of custody changes everything in drug testing for analytical chemists. Methods are validated based on a set of assumptions, intact chain of custody being one of them, that in this testing environment are not ever violated. Add to that, most anabolic steroids, and certainly testosterone, are Scedule 3 drugs. In most testing laboratories, analysis of samples outside the limits in athe validation protocol are not reportable.

Kellin
Guest
Kellin
4 years 4 months ago

Baseball and the Testing Company have stated that the collector was an experienced employee and followed the instructions he had been given to care for the sample. I fail to see how you continue to believe that the chain of custody was broken.

Braun peed in the cup.

They sealed the cup together.

Collector takes sample and following his employers instruction, stores it at home until Monday when he ships it.

The Lab takes receipt of sample and upon examination finds no sign of tampering or contamination.

Runs tests. Provides findings.

Joe
Guest
Joe
4 years 4 months ago

People keep throwing around “chain of custody”… at no point is/was there any question of the possession of this sample or whether it was externally tampered with. The only question is the handling of it in terms of time to get to the center and the temperature profile the sample saw on the way to the test center.

Sadly lost in all this, is it doesn’t explain at all why the mass spec test failed (and I assume this is why WADA says there’s no way they overturn this)

ESPN did a piece on this…. the experts interviewed suggested it’s possible to argue that the ratio test could POSSIBLY (but not definitively) be impacted by temperature and aging of the sample, but it’s not possible that would explain the failed mass spec test.

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

I’m mixed on whether he should have gotten off on a technicality, but I will not confuse getting a suspension reversed with being “innocent” when the experts are saying there is no epxplantion for the failed mass spec test (at least based on what has been publicly disclosed).

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

To PHDChemist,

I wouldnt call a serious COC breach a “technicality”. Also, the courier DID NOT refrigerate the sample, he put it in a tupperware container. And since COC was broken, as Channelclemente points out, the sample should have been discarded and never tested.

PHDchemist
Guest
PHDchemist
4 years 4 months ago

It wasn’t a serious breach. The sample was never in the hands of someone who was not authorized to handle it. The technicality is that the exchange between the chaperone and FEDEX was delayed for 40+ hours. And I’m telling you as a PhD chemist that a carbon isotope ratio mass spec test of that sample would be negligibly different if the exchange was not delayed.

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

The changes that will be made almost certainly will not actually change the sensitivity or specificity of the testing procedure, but will further add unnecessary complexity to the procedure, giving future defendants more minutiae to go after.

MLB doesn’t really have another choice, of course. Once they started down it’s one way unless the MLBPA drops the ball as clearly as MLB did in the first place.

Brofessor
Guest
Brofessor
4 years 4 months ago

Type 1 or Type 2? Didn’t he say he never had herpes?

jorgath
Guest
jorgath
4 years 4 months ago

Maybe it was diabetes? [/snark]

JR
Guest
JR
4 years 4 months ago

Do you have any basis to support the fundamental point of your article?

The independent arbitrator determined that the irregularities in the process were serious enough to warrant tossing out the apparently positive test. It is worth noting that the arbitrator did not declare Braun “innocent,” rather he simply refused to uphold the “guilty” result. In social science terms, the arbitrator decided the risk of making a Type I error was greater than a Type II error

AFAIK Mr. Das had 2 options – uphold or overturn. What basis do you have for suggesting/implying he had a third option of declaring Braun innocent?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
4 years 4 months ago

He didn’t imply that as far as I can tell. I see it as a precaution. Some may misunderstand the decision of the arbitrators as meaning that they believe he isn’t guilty, when this is not the case.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

Why is FanGraphs going to such great contortions to protect this guy? Ryan Braun failed a drug test but was let off on a technicality. So Braun is then no different from other players that failed drug tests (Arod, Sosa, Big Papi, etc) and went unpunished. Why the big push to protect this guy? Is he unusually nice for a baseball player? I don’t get it….

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

You, clearly, are simple minded.

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
4 years 4 months ago

Ah, insulting someone, always a good argument.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I was trying to insult someone, just point out that the POV is juvenile. To lump all these cases together, especially with a person with the history of Selig and PEDs, is to ignore 25 years of history in baseball and offer an opinion born of sheer ignorance.

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
4 years 4 months ago

I’m not trying to be snooty, but you make the point a lot better by explaining what you’re trying to say than just making a blanket statement about the other person’s intelligence. That said, I agree with you that lumping all of those cases together as if they’re all the same is inappropriate.

Slartibartfast
Guest
Slartibartfast
4 years 4 months ago

Are you even reading these articles?

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

Yes, I’m reading them with bemusement….

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I think that the most telling point of contention may well be the refusal of MLB to ‘individualize’ the suspect urine sample by accepted testing as being authentic and exclusively Brauns. That DNA “paternity” testing is accepted, clearly interpretable, and conclusive as to whether the sample is authentically Braun’s or adulterated with another person’s genetic material. If Braun demands and recieves access to that sample in a legal action, and testing conclusively proves the sample is not authentic or is adulterated, MLB and Selig had better have a large bank account, or Braun may become a part owner of MLB.

soupman
Member
soupman
4 years 4 months ago

these conspiracy theories are nice, but let’s just go with the ockham’s razor set of questions here: urologists/PED experts/biologists are better equipped to explain HOW synthetic testosterone got into his SEALED and UNTAMPERED sample than the idea that some one-armed man did for some unknown reason.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories either, but MLB was convicted of ‘conspiracy’ in the early 1990’s, I believe, and fined $200MM for it.

If you’ve ever seen a ‘sample container’ such as these, tampering is trival. The key event that calls up the issue at all, is that Brauns’s samples chain of custody was broken ‘before’ the sample was rendered anonymous by coding. So as to what occurred, I haven’t a clue, all I’m sure of is that a drug testing paradigm that allows this kind of error is a serious failure on the part of MLB to deal with a very important issue.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 4 months ago

See kids, if you just use big words and awkward sentence structures, you too can sound as if you have some clue what you’re talking about even if you don’t.

Obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
Obsessivegiantscompulsive
4 years 4 months ago

I need a explanation how the MLB benefits from framing one of their stars of an illegal act via a conspiracy.

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

MLB agrees to Braun’s DNA test, they end up being petitioned for and eventually agreeing to a DNA test for every single person who is caught in the future. Then the next guy caught with cocaine in his system requests a blood test done a week later because it’s more accurate than urine. Et cetera.

All that this point “tells” is that MLB showed more common sense when that offer was made than they did in negotiating the testing procedures.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

So what? In a world where a player is payed 7 figure salaries, your worried about testing cost.

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

Yeah, MLB (Or any other business on the planet) isn’t going to want to pay any more than they have to for anything, but that’s pretty much irrelevant in comparison to increasing the complexity of the case and the legal avenues of attack.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

The above is not a conspiracy theory, it’s a legal strategy. I for one, reserve judgement on any causal scenario for the results on the test. I don’t know what occurred. When an event is out of the norm, as this one was, no preconcieved POV is appropriate, IMO.

For my part, after 40 years of running such labs, and developing such tests, how MLB handled this was just, in a word, stupid.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 4 months ago

“For my part, after 40 years of running such labs, and developing such tests, how MLB handled this was just, in a word, stupid.”

I’m calling bullshit

Bill Higgs
Guest
Bill Higgs
4 years 4 months ago

Please explain how the chain of custody was broken or compromised. Had the sample been tendered to FedEx Office on a Saturday evening it would not have been shipped until Monday evening. The courier assumed responsibility when he accepted the sample and did not tender the sample until Monday because he understood FedEx’s flight schedules.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 4 months ago

It is virtually impossible to obtain a DNA profile in a urine sample. In fact, the presence of a DNA profile in a urine sample would suggest contamination.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

This is false. It is easy to get DNA from Urine. I’ve done it many times. It is not an ideal DNA source, to be sure, but there is plenty of DNA in there from cells that have sloughed off from the bladder and urethra. I’ve successfully genotyped many individuals from 25+ year old urine.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Jason is absolutely correct. Urine source IDs via RFLP testing of DNA have been done at least since 1994 and validated commercially at Roche Laboratories since at least 1998-9.

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
4 years 4 months ago

@ Jason I have nothing to add here except, that’s not a pleasant image.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

@Yeah,

Its not that bad honestly. Urine can be easily pipetted. Using feces as a DNA source is much worse, but I’ve done that too….

Felonius_Monk
Guest
Felonius_Monk
4 years 4 months ago

Incidentally, I too am calling BS on channelclemente’s “running labs and setting up tests for 40 years” comment based largely on mentioning RFLPs here, which haven’t really been used in genetic fingerprinting for the best part of a decade now, and which would be a pretty ridiculous technique to use on urine (which will contain a very small amount of DNA), given it generally requires a relatively large DNA yield to produce reliable results. There are plenty of (even single-molecule) PCR-based methods which would be far more appropriate.

I’m guessing he simply googled “urine” and “DNA testing” or something and pretty much copied something from the first thing he saw; apologies if I’m off the mark here.

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t think you’ve correctly identified the null hypothesis. Or you’re misapplying it.

The point of the drug testing program is not to decide between the hypotheses “Braun is clean” and “Braun is dirty”. The point of the drug testing program is to decide between the states “We know Braun is dirty” and “We don’t know Braun is dirty”.

Braun being clean isn’t relevant. But you’ve made it fundamental to the process by assuming an excluded middle with regard to our knowledge of Braun’s drug use.

It doesn’t matter whether Braun is clean. It doesn’t matter whether Braun is drty. It matters only if Braun has been shown to be dirty under the testing criteria. That offers a clear differentiation between states that warrant sanction and states that don’t. The only middle left, then, is a state of uncertainty as to whether Braun failed the test, but that state disappeared as an option as soon as the arbitrator ruled. Now, under the rules, we KNOW Braun doesn’t satisfy the criteria for being a known PED user, and thus he is NOT a known PED user.

Whether he’s actually a PED user never mattered.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen
4 years 4 months ago

Why are we using the criminal justice system as an analogy? This is a civil case where the only possible retribution involves the MLB’s equivalent of civil remedies (an injunction against playing and the lost salary).

Not being privy to the details of the arbitration, we can’t say for sure what should have happenex, but treating the case as a “criminal” case is surely no part of it. The standard of proof in a case like this should be (and probably is) much less stringent.

As for public opinion: his urine had synthetic testosterone in it. Does anyone seriously believe someone planted it there? I find it much more plausible that he used PEDs than someone framed him.

But then, I don’t claim to know beyond a reasonable doubt, and neither I nor anyone else needs to do so; no one is trying to put Ryan Braun in jail. It isn’t very important to me either way, but I’m not going to pretend Ryan Braun didn’t very likely cheat.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Reasonable doubt has nothing to do with it. This case was decided on “preponderance of the evidence”, which makes it harder to prove. Braun’s side didn’t have to just prove “reasonable doubt”, they had to win by “preponderance of the evidence”, and they did that.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Edit: “reasonable doubt” is actually harder to prove than “preponderance of the evidence”.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen
4 years 4 months ago

Exactly. Making the criminal justice system an analogy makes little sense. My point is only that, while legally there might be no problem here, the evidence still points to a very high likelihood that Braun cheated.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

I completely disagree that the evidence points that way.

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

Jason Roberts writes with concern about how RB could lose income and his team could lose games and competitive balance be changed.

What about the rookies or other vets/young players who have worked hard and stayed clean, who might have replaced RB roster spot, now the message they hear, is RB is off on a technicality, and I do not have a chance. What about that player Jason?

There is good evidence he cheated, RB has had 4 months to argue his case, then make his speech, which ultimately was nothing but platitiudes and nothing specific to his case beyond since it is tampering was theoretically possible, we have to assume it happened, all other evidence to contrary. So far, he has not made a good case for himself. It is bizarre that so many Fangraph writers want to run from these facts and instead change the conversation to Null Hypotheses and confrimation bias errors. Also Jason as others point out this is a civil case so comparing into the certainty required for felony behavior is a stretcher. Any way, my mind is open to RB telling us what the evidence was that the specimen was actually tampered with.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

HUH? His speech was “nothing specific to his case”? How about his quote, “I am 100% certain that this substance, at any time, ever entered my body.”

deadhead
Member
deadhead
4 years 4 months ago

I hope MLB has each player deliver their own samples to FedEx. After all, once it is triple sealed it is tamper proof.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
4 years 4 months ago

Knowing players, they won’t even need to test to know who is using. The ones that are obviously tampered with are the juicers. I like it. Make it happen.

todibus
Member
todibus
4 years 4 months ago

An important part of the drug testing process as agreed to in negotiations between MLB and the Player’s Union is the confidentiality of the results of any testing until any appeals process is completed. If that had indeed happened in this case, as it was supposed to, the public would never have known about this test at all. To me, the biggest negative in this whole situation is the leaking of the results of Braun’s test, which totally compromised the integrity of the testing program. If MLB is upset, it should be upset about that and should be doing everything it can to find the person who leaked the test results.

And to say that Braun got off on a “technicality” totally misses the point that “technically” we shouldn’t even have know about the test result in the first place.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
4 years 4 months ago

You lost me. I don’t see how leaking the results compromises the integrity of the test results. Is this some kind of quantum mechanics thing where nothing has actually happened until someone observes it?

JR
Guest
JR
4 years 4 months ago

Yay Llewdor,

Glad somebody gets that the fundamental point of the article is wrong because the author was assumed, without basis in fact, that Braun’s “innocence” or “guilt” was the issue.

MGL
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

“In social science terms, the arbitrator decided the risk of making a Type I error was greater than a Type II error.”

No he didn’t! He did not have to make any judgment on whether Braun did indeed have evidence of a banned substance in his blood. He merely decided that the rules in the JDA were broken. Period.

The fact that the rules were broken (in the opinion of the arb – the COC rules in the JDA are not particularly clear) has almost no bearing on Braun’s innocence or guilt.

The fact that the sample COULD have been tainted or tampered with is a ridiculous argument for Braun’s innocence. The sample COULD have been tampered with or tainted in the collector’s car even he brought the sample directly to Fedex. It COULD have been tampered with or tainted in the FedEx office or the Fedex truck. It COULD have been tainted or tampered with at the lab. Etc.

The chances that this sample was tainted or tampered with because the guy took it home and put it in his fridge for 2 days is likely less than the chances of a double or triple false positive. So why wouldn’t Braun be exonerated just based on the chances of a false positive? Because that is extremely unlikely, just like the chances of his sample being tainted or tampered with is extremely unlikely.

When a judge throws out evidence in a criminal trial because the police violated the 4th Amendment via an illegal search or the 5th Amendment by not informing a suspect of his Miranda rights, it is NOT because the suspect might be innocent. It is so that police do not continuously violate the Constitution in the future. If the police break into your house illegally and find drugs and weapons, and the evidence is thrown out (and you are let free), that does not make you one iota less guilty than if they had lawfully come into your house. The chances of the police planting evidence in an illegal search is exactly the same as in a legal one.

Again, and hopefully for the last time, the ruling by the arb may have been correct, but only in that the COC rules as spelled out in the JDA were violated, period, and not because that violation significantly affected Braun’s chances of being guilty. It didn’t. What are the chances of his sample being tainted because the guy took it home, over and above, the guy taking it to FedEx? Seriously? .1 percent? No reasonable person puts it at more than 1%. So that makes Braun innocent? The fact that he now has a 1% greater chance of being innocent than he was before? Just a double or triple false positive gives him a 1% chance of being innocent I assume…

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

“The fact that the sample COULD have been tainted or tampered with is a ridiculous argument for Braun’s innocence. The sample COULD have been tampered with or tainted in the collector’s car even he brought the sample directly to Fedex. It COULD have been tampered with or tainted in the FedEx office or the Fedex truck. It COULD have been tainted or tampered with at the lab. Etc.”

I think the fact the chaperone was the collectors son makes tampering more plausible with the sample at home than elsewhere. Not sure what vetting process is, if there is any, for chaperones, and he is the only one other than the collector who knows which sample is Brauns. This is also the only way the sample could be resealed if it was tampered with (eg, collector assumes son opens sample accidentally)

It is also curious that Braun requested a DNA match which was refused to be done by MLB. The easiest way to tamper with a sample so it gets a positive result is to replace the sample with urine from a known steroid user (the son or a friend), who would have different DNA than Braun.

Given that MLB knew about the chain of custody issues, their failure to conduct a test which would have alleviated any concerns the arbitrator may have had of tampering is puzzling. Alternatively it could have proved tampering if there was tampering, and this case could have been put to rest long ago.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan
4 years 4 months ago

I can’t be bothered to link to this information, but if you don’t believe me some simple google searches will confirm it for you.

(1) The container was wholly intact and the seal was unbroken. The seal is designed in such a way that it cannot be removed and replaced without leaving behind evidence of tampering.

(2) Braun did not actually allege tampering before the arbitrator. He got off not because there was a real possibility that the sample had been altered, but rather because the arbitrator thought MLB procedures were violated.

(3) MGL’s point is not that it’s totally impossible that the sample was tampered with, but that the “procedural violations” don’t substantially increase the likelihood that there was tampering.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

“MGL’s point is not that it’s totally impossible that the sample was tampered with, but that the “procedural violations” don’t substantially increase the likelihood that there was tampering.”

My point gave a reason why this may not be true.

“The container was wholly intact and the seal was unbroken. The seal is designed in such a way that it cannot be removed and replaced without leaving behind evidence of tampering.”

Who better than the collector is in a position to reseal it with new materials, with a new container and seal.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

If ever there was an issue that patrons of Fangraphs were equiped to address, this article by DR. Donald A. Berry , biostatistician at MD Anderson Hospital, outlines one.http://www2.statfac.unibo.it/documenti/doc/doping/doping.pdf

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

Intesting article but be sure to read the rebuttal that comes right after it!

JP
Guest
JP
4 years 4 months ago

“Regardless of your view of Braun’s culpability it is hard to make a credible argument that MLB should be more accepting of Type I error than the criminal justice system.”

The criminal justice system is unique in American society, and it really annoys me when people assume it should be a model for all other determinations of culpability. Criminal punishment, aside from very minor sentences, is simply incomparable to the suffering inflicted on a major league baseball player who has to miss less than 1/3 of a season. Moreover, human history is littered with awful abuses of power by government to strip away fundamental human liberty, which is largely why we have such a robust system of criminal procedure.

It is not at all clear why the criminal justice system’s tolerance of Type 1 vs. Type 2 errors should be the model in this case.

There are numerous contexts in which we don’t require culpability to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil suits, a plaintiff need only show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed some tort of other malfeasance. i.e. that it was more likely than not, or more than 50% likely that the alleged conduct occurred.

A drug testing regime sounds much more like a civil suit than a criminal case. The athlete, or “defendant,” faces no risk of imprisonment (much less the death penalty). He only faces lost earnings, and harm to his reputation. That’s the same as in civil suits, where defendants have to pay damages, and there is a public record of their wrongdoing.

The civil system is MUCH more tolerant of Type 1 errors than the criminal justice system, in large part because a Type 1 error will not result in stripping a person of his or her basic fundamental liberty.

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

At this site and another similar site, it is strange to see the staff writers avoid all the evidence we know, and instead speculate on all that null hypotheses, confirmation bias, and the suffering Joe Jackson endured from Judge Landis.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

It’s just as strange to me to see posters on this site ignore all the evidence that suggests Braun is indeed innocent, and instead make the quick jump to “he cheated”.

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

Bstar, I would be glad to consider it. Braun had 4 months to find a scientific reason the test was invalid/ He chose a procedural reason but the context of other facts suggests that the procedural reason he cited was a red herring; luckily for him the arbiter went on the strictest interpretation possible. The director of the testing lab and director of WADA both backed MLB. Braun waves his hands, claims his innocence a la Roger Clemens, and can offer no explanation for test result . The COC issue may give RB an out (?hit) , with media friendlies, and one arbiter, but the rest of us can make up our own minds. I would be happy to change my mind should more evidence be presented.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Yeah, I am willing to change my mind, too. The fact that he passed a lie detector test really holds a lot of weight for me, too.

Shane
Guest
Shane
4 years 4 months ago

Whatever the truth is, and none of us know for sure, Braun is gonna have to live with the “warts” of this whole dilemna forever.

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
4 years 4 months ago

And that’s really unfair. There could be several other players who’ve gone through exactly the same process as Braun with relevantly similar test results, and we don’t know about them. We only know about Braun’s test because someone leaked the results.

I was indifferent to Braun before the debacle, but now I’m a huge Braun fan because he’s been very poorly served by the system.

ray
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

bstar-did Braun argue that the results of the test were inaccurate or that the chain of custody procedures were not followed? the latter.
And if the chain of custody procedures were followed, when would the box been delivered to the agency in Montreal? Monday. When did they get the box? Monday.
The agency in MTL is known as the best doping agency in the world and they said there was no tampering.
So where is the evidence that he is innocent?

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

In his and RB’s imagination. That he got off on a technicality is one thing, worse stuff happens. But I am, sick and tired of lawyers, judges and their lackeys telling me the sky is green and that the emperor’s new clothers are fabulous.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
4 years 4 months ago

Would you prefer that those who enforce rules/laws don’t have to follow rules themselves? It’s one thing if you think this breach of rules by the person who handles the samples isn’t severe enough to throw out the result, but in our actual legal system, I’d be really worried if police and the court system could break rules and still get a conviction.

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

Bip, apparently how RB specimen was handled was no different than how other MLBers specimens were handled under this agreement. WADA and MTL say everything looks like the usual test. The deviation from written protocol was minimal and deviation from actual protocol appears to be zero. I understand about the legal question. I disagree with Das (?) but can accept that decision more than i can accept RB impugn the process and proclaim his innocence. Better if he did a mark McGwire, “i am not here to talk about the past” instead of take a bat to MLB program and at by implication accuse the courier of gross negligence or worse.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
4 years 4 months ago

The point of the article is that based on the way this process works, he doesn’t have to provide evidence that he is innocent…

Dr.Rockzo
Member
Dr.Rockzo
4 years 4 months ago

The case was no an issue of innocent until proven guilty. The drug test serves as proven guilty. The appeal is after the fact guilty and must prove innocence. The fact that there was a mishandling of the sample is a concerning issue, but only if that mishandling leads to contamination that incorrectly creates a positive test

I understand the point of the article, but it’s basis is entirely incorrect. The onus in the case of an appeal is for the defendant to prove that what is being appealed didn’t happen, not on MLB to once again prove that it did. The positive test happened for whatever reason. Braun must effectively offer an explanation of why it occured or how the mishandling caused the test, not for MLB to once again prove that he test is valid. If the entire argument to allow the appeal is that the sample was mishandled, but in no way indicates that the mishandling caused contamination, then there is no reason to throw out the test.

This entire affair is terrible because MLB looks incompetent for leaking the information in the first place and handling the sample wrong. Braun is always going to have this lurking behind him. Writers everywhere continue to not understand the case. No legitimate explanation has been put forth, and no one will know what actually happened.

Sammy
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Somewhere, Sam Waterson is pissed.

Bigmouth
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Michael Moriarty even moreso.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

I wonder why the mathematics of drug testing is not discussed more often in these discussions, since it is not especially difficult to grasp and it can be quite eye-opening. Take a simplified example. Suppose 10% of MLB players use steroids. And suppose that the drug test is 90% accurate – so a steroid user will test positive 90% of the time and a clean player will test negative 90% of the time. (There is no reason why both these numbers have to be the same. And since I don’t know what the true positive and true negative rates of the drug tests given to MLB players are, I’ve chosen a nice, round number to keep things simple.) So let’s suppose MLB player X tests positive. What is the probability he takes steroids?

The right answer is 50%.

Here’s how to see it: Take 100 MLB players. We can expect about 10 to use steroids & 90 to not use steroids. Of the 10 who use steroids, 9 (or 90%) will test positive. Of the 90 who don’t use steroids, 9 (or 10%) will test positive. Notice that the test really is 90% accurate (it makes 10 mistakes out of 100 – 1 Type II error and 9 Type I errors). But of the 18 people who tested positive, 9 use steroids. Or 50%.

The general lesson is: If the prior probability that someone uses drugs is low, even if your test is highly accurate, a positive result is less indicative of drug use than you might think.

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 4 months ago

Two problems:

1) You can’t just assume a false positive and a false negative is the same rate… in fact I’d imagine they are vastly different rates. Especially the secondary test which is not a simple “use PED’s”/”doesn’t use PED’s” type of test and is actually identifying a substance via mass spectrometry

2 More significantly – your hypothetical scenario ignores that this is a two step testing process.. The first test is an epi ratio screen so the sample would need to first generate a false positive on that , AND then the CIR test is performed (which is much more detailed and accurate) would also need to generate a false positive – so you are now multiplying those two probabilities to get the probability of a clean player testing positive on both… If you just use your 10% (which I don’t think is valid for the mass spec test) it still drops the chance of a false positive down to 1%

And looking at the opposite scenario a “dirty player” simply needs EITHER test to generate a false negative (which points out why you can’t assume the overall false positive and false negative rates are similar). So if for some reason you assume the false negative rate is the same as the fasle positive (which it probably isn’t) and use your 10% example the player actually has a 19% chance of getting away with it.

The general lesson (and forgive me for being snarky): you may want to read up on how the testing process actually works. When a positive test requires TWO different test to be positive; the odds that a clean player has two false positives is much lower than what you are portraying.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

No worries about snark. As to (1), I might note I did explicitly make this point. And as to (2), is there any good, independently confirmed evidence about the true positive and true negative rates of these tests? If there is, then of course one shouldn’t use the hypothetical numbers that I admittedly pulled out of my hat.

I do wonder: How do you get the 1% false positive rate after two tests? You didn’t just take 10% of 10% did you? Because if you did – no snark intended – you’re proving my point about people’s failure to understand the mathematics of drug testing.

To see this, let’s suppose (as you do) that everyone who tested positive on the first test takes a second test that is (again) 90% accurate. (Where, again, in real life, the true positive and true negative rates of a test don’t have to be the same!) So you have 100 MLB players who have tested positive once. 50 of them use steroids. You give them a second test. 45 of the 50 users test positive (90%). And 5 of the 50 non-users test positive (10%). And so the probability that someone who tested positive twice actually uses steroids is 45/50, or 90%. Not 99%. (Equivalently, the false positive rate is 10%, not 1%.)

I hope I have been thoroughly transparent about the fact that I’ve totally made up the numbers in this hypothetical scenario, including the false positive and false negative rates. My point is that people, even very smart & sophisticated people, don’t understand the mathematics of drug testing. And while you certainly make some good and important points, quite frankly your reply helps make my case.

As to how the tests really work: If there is good, independently corroborated evidence about their actual true positive and true negative rates, I’d sure be interested in learning about this (as I’ve been unable to find any info on this topic).

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

I should of course say that my point is that *many* smart and sophisticated people don’t understand the mathematics of drug testing – and there are studies that suggest that this includes many medical doctors. This can lead to significant overconfidence about what conclusions are reasonable to draw from a positive test result (or even two positive test results).

apack
Guest
apack
4 years 4 months ago

Your mathematics are correct, but you have made a misleading argument by constructing an unreasonable set of hypotheticals. All you are showing is that any reasonable testing procedure needs to have an error rate substantially less than the frequency of occurrence of the event your trying to observe. If the frequency of occurrence is 10% and the error rate is 10% then 50% of individuals identified by the test will be false positives. No reasonable scientist would accept this result. So your testing procedure has to be much more reliable to give a reasonable probability of separating users from non-users. In science, the normally we apply a 95% confidence limit to such analyses. Here the standard might not be so strict, but still this should be >50%. This is why there are two levels of testing – a screening test, which is less reliable, and a more precise follow-on analysis of samples that the screening test indicates are positive. Some analyses can be quite definitive, approaching 100% reliability if executed properly (i.e., human error or sample handling error are the largest sources of uncertainty). I do not know the specific analytical methods used to detect PEDs in urine, but the follow-on testing is likely to be quite definitive, particularly if the issue at hand is to detect natural vs. synthetic hormones that have different chemical structure.

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 4 months ago

The two tests are sequential, not parallel… the second test is not preformed on every sample, only on positive first tests

The 1% I was referring to was the false accusation of a clean player probability (given the hypothetical #s)… I wasn’t intending that to be taken as the overall accuracy rate of the testing program as you have to also add in the false negatives.

So for dirty players 90% get caught on the first test (but that alone is not enough to ‘convict’ them, they have to fail a 2nd test too )and then 90% of that 90% get caught on the 2nd test. or 81% total. (meaning 19% get away with it at a 10% failure rate)

The problem I have with your #’s is when you say 100 players who have tested positive once and 50 of them use steroids – that abandons your 10% fail rate… that is actually a failure rate ABOVE 50 % (as some steroids users will fall through the cracks via false negatives)

So if you had 1000 players, 900 clean 100 dirty:
Test 1
– 90 clean players wrongly fail the first test (and those samples goes on to the secondary test)
– 90 dirty players fail the first test (10 get off scott free and don’t even see the secondary test)

Test 2
– 9 clean players wrongly fail the next test (as only the 90 samples are tested)
– 81 dirty players fail the 2nd test (another 9 players get off)

So the total failure rate (in terms of final outcome) of the program:
9 clean players wrongfully accused, 19 dirty players wrongfully deemed clean (10 in test 1 +9 in test 2) or 28 total mistakes on the final outcome (2.8%)

So a couple of observations:
– Because the tests are sequential, the failure rate of the program will depend on the relative # of clean and dirty players
– Using 10 % failure rates for all tests (and both false positives and false negatives) the failure rate could never be higher that 19% (this is a scenario where every player in baseball is dirty). If every player was clean the overall failure rate of the program would be 1%. Those are your bounds with the hypothetical #’s

bdrogus
Member
bdrogus
4 years 4 months ago

Why are we assuming there’s only 2 tests here – the EPI screen ratio then the CRI. Wouldn’t both the “A” and “B” samples be tested? That means there would be at least 3 tests performed if not four depending on whether only one or both tests were performed on the “B”, correct. That will throw off all the other presumptions as well.

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

Mathematics of drug testing is probably not discussed because there is no point, at this point, of discussing it. If there was indeed some ridiculously high false positive rate, such as 10%, do you think Braun’s lawyers would’ve let that go? or that MLBPA would’ve agreed to the test?

Either the test was accepted because it was determined that it was accurate enough, or, as you suggest, people simply aren’t as smart as you when it comes to mathematics. I am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and go with the former alternative.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

There are a number of points to make here. But let me just cut to the chase: As far as I can tell, until some actual sensitivity and specificity evidence is offered, we’re *all* whistling in the dark. We’re *all* dealing with hypotheticals. You all are just a lot more confident than I am that the second test has a *very* low false positive rate (including human error, of course). Maybe it does. I am totally willing to be educated on this topic. But I’m not willing to accept an answer on faith or on the grounds that “no one would let those in authority get away with that stuff!”

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t think you understand my point. It’s not about blindly believing in authority. The test is a product of an adversarial bargaining process between the MLB and MLBPA. Are you willing to accept that it is unlikely for MLBPA to agree to a test that has, say, 10% false positive rate according to peer-reviewed literature?

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

There is a simple test to confirm your suspicion. If the agreement was based on peer-reviewed evidence, that evidence should be available somewhere (scholar.google.com perhaps?). I can’t find it but I admit that’s probably my failing. So if you are confident that there are such peer-reviewed studies, please tell me what they are. I will accept their results without complaint. But I’m much too old and far too cynical to join a speculation party.

If you take the time to find the studies, I’ll save you time composing a response. Here’s what you say: “Look, you very old and far-too-cynical dude, the steroid test given to MLB players has a true positive rate of X% and a true negative rate of Y%. http://www.link.to.article.pdq“. Believe it or not, I hope you’re right. I want to know.

apack
Guest
apack
4 years 4 months ago

Mike,

You are making an argument about the magnitude of error in the tests. Therefore the burden of proof is on you to do the research to show that the test has such high uncertainties. I doubt this is the case as it would not be scientifically credible or hold up in any court or even arbitration. I am certain that the information on the quality of testing is publicly available. Have you tried checking WADA for this information? If you are looking for primary scientific studies, then you need to use a search tool for scientific literature, such as Pubmed. Google scholar is useful but it returns a lot of extraneous results that you need to sift through.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

Let’s get clear about this. I’ve admitted my ignorance. Over and over, in fact. If you need further evidence of my ignorance, you can ask my wife. But I would have thought my say-so was enough. It’s not like I’m hiding my knowledge about these matters.

The burden of proof is on those who claim they *do* know how to interpret a positive test or a positive pair of tests for steroids. If you can’t justify your interpretation of a positive test, you’re whistling in the dark with me. The only question is whether you’re willing to admit it.

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t know why you find this so difficult to understand, Mike. There is a strong presumption of accuracy, not only because MLB has no reason to use an inaccurate test, but because the test process is a result of an adversarial process between MLB and MLBPA. What you are doing is floating some random hypothetical doubt based on literally nothing against this strong presumption, then telling people they are fools for blindly following authority.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

Your argument is not difficult to understand. It’s just vague and unconvincing. Let’s get clear about the issue. You say in opposing my view, “There is a strong presumption of accuracy” and offer various considerations for why the tests would not be “inaccurate.” But I’ve never claimed the true positive or true negative rates were “inaccurate.” The issue is whether the true negative (positive) rate is very accurate (90%), amazingly accurate (99+%) or something in between.

Your case depends entirely on some idea you apparently have about what must have happened during the MLB-MLBPA negotiations. But you aren’t very forthcoming on this score. What true negative rate did the MLBPA agree to – a very accurate rate, an amazingly accurate rate or something in between? You don’t say. It has been suggested that the negotiators must have had peer-reviewed studies finding a very low false positive rate. But no such study is cited. Not even a secondary source.

Either you know the true negative rate of the test & you get some perverse pleasure in offering weak arguments when you have devastating arguments at your disposal. Or you don’t know whether the true negative rate of the test is very accurate or amazingly accurate or somewhere in between. But without that information, you can’t reasonably interpret a positive test – or even two positive tests. (That was part of the point of my first two posts.)

But here’s the beauty part. There is a simple way to prove you’re right & to relieve me of my admitted ignorance about how to interpret a positive test (or pair of positive tests). End the long national nightmare that is this thread and just tell us what the true positive rate and true negative rate of the tests are.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

You are absolutely correct Mike, even if your numbers are hypothetical. However, you overlooked one point, there is a 2nd test performed which is the gold standard with negligible false positive rates. That’s the CIR test, and it shows that synthetic testosterone was used. Kind of like HIV testing back in the day when the screening test had a high false positive. Then the gold standard test was done which confirmed if it was positive or negative.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 4 months ago

I’d love to know what the actual rates of these test are. Although it is dated (i.e., 15 years old), here’s a peer-reviewed study that looks good although it is I’m sure it is about a different test. It cites a false negative rate of 46% and a false positive rate of 4%. http://www.clinchem.org/content/43/5/731.full

How much better are the test you’re referring to? I’d love to know. Because I’m sure some people will reply to me that what I’m about to say is irrelevant because I’m not using the right numbers. I know I’m not using the right numbers! That’s exactly my point: I don’t know the numbers I need to know to properly interpret a positive test (or two)!

There’s another wrinkle that no one has yet mentioned that makes me more diffident than many others in interpreting a positive result (or two). In order to reasonably interpret a positive result (or two) one must know not just the false positive and false negative rates, one must also begin with the prior probability that the player has used steroids. In my original example, I used 10%. But I pulled that number out of my hat.

So here’s a question we *must* address if we are going to rationally interpret RB’s test results: Before the first positive test result, what was the probability that RB was using steroids? Presumably there are various lines of evidence we could appeal to (physical, psychological considerations, dramatic performance changes, demographic factors, etc.). If you think to yourself (as I do), “How the **** am I supposed to know that?”, then you’re admitting that you’re missing what is potentially an absolutely crucial bit of evidence for interpreting a positive test.

What I’m saying here is not influenced by my political inclinations, my attitude toward Bud Selig, or how much I like the Milwaukee Brewers. (I’m a Nats fan, actually.) It’s math. It’s 2+2=4.

To appreciate why the prior is crucial, consider 3 possibilities. In all 3, RB tests positive twice for steroids with the 2 different tests that both have FP=4% and FN=46%. (Must I say again that these numbers are not right? Okay: These numbers are not right.) My point here is that the prior probability can make a massive difference to how one interprets a positive result.

1% prior: The chances that RB uses steroids after 2 positive tests: ~58%.

10% prior: The chances that RB uses steroids after 2 positive tests:
~95%.

50% prior: The chances that RB uses steroids after 2 positive tests: 99+%.

So if you want to know why I am sympathetic with the Fangraphs authors who express genuine ignorance about what to make of RB’s positive test results, now you’ve seen it all. I don’t know the FP or FN of the tests, although I assume that that information is out there somewhere. And I don’t know the prior probability that RB uses steroids – and I have doubts about whether my ignorance about that can be relieved in a rational manner.

I should note (even though I realize I’m probably just talking to myself at this point) that as the true negative rate of the test gets closer to 0, the importance of the prior decreases to the interpretation of a positive test (or two). That’s why it is *really* crucial to know whether the false positive rate is low (10%, 6%, 4%) or astonishingly low (close to 0%).

adam smith
Guest
adam smith
4 years 4 months ago

Braun had much greater bat speed at the end of 2011 than he did at the end of 2010. He was a step or two faster. His arm was noticably stronger. All in spite of his claiming otherwise. Players go through physical peaks and troughs. It is possible that he was at a peak in Sept 2011, and a trough in Sept 2010. I saw a lot of him in september both years. You simply could not get a FB by him in Sept 2011. He was all over everything. 98 up in the zone, forgetaboutit, he was turning on it. He was laying off bad breaking stuff because he saw it early and could afford to wait–he had the best bat speed in the league. I had him 4.35-4.45 to 1B in 2010. He was 4.15-4.25 in 2011. Maybe just a guy getting better, entering his prime, etc. If he reverts to the 4.35-4.45 in 2012, and all of a sudden can’t catch up to the premium FB, I would think that would mean something. i would be curious to see if there was any difference between HR distance between the two years.

The thing about the PEDs isn’t that it makes you stronger, per se. You have good days, where you feel on top of the world physically, and you have bad days where you feel tired and sluggish. On PEDs, there are no bad days. You are on top of the world almost every day. (or at least 6 out of 7 days a week.) That is why WHEN you take the stuff is so important. You need to time it so that you are getting the maximum benefit when you need it the most, whether it is the final week of the Tour de France, or the playoff stretch and the playoffs. Too bad Ryan. Say it aint’ so. Oh wait, he did, didn’t he…..

Here’s a stat that shows how driven elite athletes are: The AIS did a confidential survey in the 80’s of their elite athletes. The question was simple: “if you could take an illegial substance that guaranteed you of an olympic medal, and you were guaranteed not to get caught, yet the substance would take ten years off of your life, would you take it?”

Over 80% said yes.

Never underestimate the power of glory. Double it up with tremendous wealth, and even Saints become Sinners.

adam smith
Guest
adam smith
4 years 4 months ago

Look at Braun’s HR distance in August and Sept over the past two years. In 2010, he only went over 400 ft with two out of his nine HR’s during the last two months. In 2011, he went over 400 ft with seven out of his last eleven HR’s. Even though his overall average distance for the entire season was actually greater in 2010 (by a foot), his average distance in August and Sept 2011 (the dog days) was significantly greater (20ft further) than 2010. He was hitting balls a lot further at the end of the year in 2011. In 2010, his average HR distance was actually below league average in August and Sept. That would be an expected result of a long season. In 2011 it was above average. As mentioned above, maybe he was just feeling good.

Justin
Guest
Justin
4 years 4 months ago

He was also getting Good pitches to hit because prince was mashing during August and September.

Frank
Guest
Frank
4 years 4 months ago

Great piece, man…It’s almost like you could take this type I and type II error stuff and apply it to a paper on the content of structured rules in the House of Representatives.

TomReagan
Guest
TomReagan
4 years 4 months ago

I’m not an expert on testing, but I am a lawyer. It looks to me like Braun’s lawyers argued exaclty what I believe they should have argued — that there was an agreed upon testing process, and that it was not followed. Therefore, the test results should not be allowed to be used against him.

This situation should not be compared to evidence used against criminals. Those situations are governed either by constitutional principles or by evidentiary rules. Those rules apply the same way to every defendant’s case and exist for a variety of reasons. But the rules applicable to Braun’s case only apply to drug testing conducted by MLB on members of the MLBPA. These rules were the result of negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA and are contractual.

Because the collection rules here are contractual, I don’t think the effect of whatever deviations were made from the rules is very important. What matters is that MLB said that they would follow X procedure and the MLBPA to be bound by testing results that followed X procedure. Here, X procedure apparently wasn’t followed. Since MLBPA had not agreed that the procedure used in this case was acceptable, then the argument is that Braun shouldn’t be bound by the results because he did not, as a member of the MLBPA, consent to be bound by the results of the procedure used in his particular test.

Whether the deviations from procedure had any effect on the result or not is a secondary issue. What is more important legally, at least in my opinion, is whether or not procedure was violated to a degree that would make it unfair to force Braun to submit to the results. If the testing process followed a different set of rules than those that had been agreed to by both sides, then the test should be invalid.

If, for example, the MLBPA insisted that it was necessary to have 6 layers of marked seals for every sample and the testing company used only 3, then the arbitrator should not later rule that the missing 3 layers were unnecessary and that the test should still be valid. That decision may be appropriate even in a criminal case because a court could rightfully rule that the defendant’s rights were sufficiently protected by the 3 layers that were actually used and that the extra 3 would’ve been unnecessary. But when the parties had each agreed that the process would use 6 — when that was a bargained for element of the contract — then the tester better damn well follow the agreement.

After all, let’s not pretend that it took MLB and the MLBPA years to agree to a testing policy because each side wanted to use the most foolproof method of testing. A major part of that delay was getting MLB to agree to some terms that honestly have little purpose other than to provide potential pitfalls to the tester. But, MLB agreed to follow a particular procedure, and they should be bound by it.

Having written the above, I am convinced that whatever deviations were made from the agreed upon procedure were irrelevant and that the test result was accurate.

I also agree that the results should not have been made public. However, I would suspect someone from Braun’s camp before I would suspect anyone from MLB. This entire episode was bad for both MLB and for Braun, but MLB had no reason to leak any results. Braun’s camp, however, was faced with charges that no one had ever overcome on appeal. They could have made the rational decision that there was a 95% chance that the decision would be upheld anyway, so they may as well leak the results of the initial test and begin a public relations campaign for sympathy. They could, and did, at least make the public claim that the mere fact that the test results were leaked cast doubt on MLB’s ability to conduct a fair testing program. And if they were able to pull out a victory, then they would be able to say ‘I told you so’. Whether that’s what actually happened, I don’t know. But I think it makes more sense than anyone from MLB leaking it. MLB had nothing to gain from a leak whatsoever and now look especially foolish because of it.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Tom,

Are lie detector results admissible in a case like this? The fact that Braun passed one claiming his total innocence really makes me think he’s innocent. Why would he agree to a lie detector test and then pass it if he was guilty? Would someone who thinks he’s guilty please answer that?

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

“But, MLB agreed to follow a particular procedure, and they should be bound by it. ”

MLB and MLBPA jointly use CDT for collections., CDT also has the DOJ as a customer.

Bill but not Ted
Guest
Bill but not Ted
4 years 4 months ago

Tom no one is going to spend 20 minutes to read a comment. I read the first sentence and have one comment.

if your a lawyer you should know your audience better

Spunky
Guest
Spunky
4 years 4 months ago

Jason Roberts wrote: It is worth noting that the arbitrator did not declare Braun “innocent,” rather he simply refused to uphold the “guilty” result. In social science terms, the arbitrator decided the risk of making a Type I error was greater than a Type II error.

Is this really true, or did he just decide that the consequences of making a Type I error were worse than those resulting from a Type II error. In essence, he’s assigning Type I and Type II errors with different weights.

We see this all the time in jury cases. Someone is innocent until proven guilty. So even if the probability of making a Type I error is small and the probability of making a Type II error is large, the jury still errs on the side of the defendant.

Pitchforkpaddy
Guest
Pitchforkpaddy
4 years 4 months ago

The chain of custody issue is not a technicality. It is a material fact which leaves the integrity of the sample in question. There is a reason the MLB and the MLBPA agreed to the chain of custody rules. To prevent tampering with samples. Whether they be real or perceived.
The only two people who know for certain are Ryan Braun and the person who administered the test. That is not enough for me. It wouldn’t be enough even if he played for Boston, and I’m a Yankee fan.
The earlier poster, who minmized the consequences of being wrongly found guilty of PED use when compared to criminal conviction is correct. But I wonder how he would feel if his reputation was trashed by a test of dubious validity, And then he lost money due suspension and advertising opportunities. If he had to endure the doubt and suspicion such a thing leads to. If their children were to say “Dad, did you really do drugs?”

Dr.Rockzo
Member
Dr.Rockzo
4 years 4 months ago

An appeal is not a trial to determine guilt. An appeal is an attempt to overturn the decision of guilt. It isn’t innocent until proven guilty anymore, it is guilty until proven innocent.

Chain of custody wasn’t violated, it was mishandled. To use the mishandling as justification for nullification of the positive test must imply that the mishandling caused the positive test. This can be achieved through contamination due to the mishandling or tampering with the sample. I do not believe there was any scientific evidence at all to declare that there was any contamination caused by the mishandling, which means that tampering is the only viable option available. If there was any suspicion of tampering, the sample would not have been used. If there was any suspicion of tampering then Braun’s lawyers almost certainly would have implicated the courier in the process. There is no evidence to suggest tampering of any kind. If there is no tampering, and the act of leaving the sample on a desk or wherever it was stored did not cause an event to trigger the positive test, then how it the test result invalid?

Pennant
Member
Pennant
4 years 4 months ago

COC is a technicality in this instance as the other facts in context show no evidence of tampering or degradation, which is why COC procedures are instituted. The Lab stands by its testing; WADA says Braun would be guilty if the result was in their lab, by their standards. It will not be so bad if he wins by a technicality as long as this does not start the beginning of the end of the program

apack
Guest
apack
4 years 4 months ago

The real problem here, to me, is that MLB and MLBPA negotiated a testing and sample handling policy that differs from WADA and other institutions that have been pursuing these issues for a long time. So this makes MLB testing less stringent than current state-of-the-art, and also contributes to discrepancies in sample handling because they have specified non-standard procedures. So, as usual MLB didn’t enforce a high standard here, and it’s to MLBPA’s benefit to have loop holes and procedural deficiencies that can be exploited to undercut enforcement. This certainly reduces MLB’s claims that they have a comprehensive testing program in place.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

Chain of custody was maintained, it was just that there was a delay in transferring the sample to Fed Ex. Such delays are permitted if there are unusual circumstances like a storm or traffic jam, in which case the validity of the test results would not be questioned. Both the collector and Fed Ex were authorized custodians. MLB/MLBPA procedures are modelled after WADA which says this is not a big deal.

MLB and the MLBA contract the collection to a 3rd party called CDT which also does collections for the DOJ.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Regardless of ones opinion of the veracity of Braun’s claims or the reliability of MLB testing, the effect on the economics of baseball are undeniable. The impact of ‘false negatives’ plays as big a role as positives. Interesting article on the economics and NPV impacts.

http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/soliveros/documents/EWMBA%20211/Final%20projects/Steroids%20and%20Major%20League%20Baseball.pdf

CircleChange11
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Jason,

In the article you mentioned the justice system. It is interesting to me that jury’s don’t declare someone “innocent”. They give a ruling of “guilty” or “not guilty”. In other words they rule on whether the prosecutor proved guilt or not, not whether the defendant did the crime or not.

In Braun’s case we have a urine sample that has test levels 5 times the normal amount. Due to the variance in protocol, the arbitrator is ruling that a guilty verdict cannot be declared. So to speak, the variance resulted in reasonable doubt.

No one should be declaring that Braun’s sample wasn’t well above the normal range or that he didn’t use PED’s. All we can say is that apparently there’s enough doubt to not rule “guilty”.

Of course that won’t stop Braun or any other defendant from using the ruling to declare innocent instead of just “not guilty”. In common language they mean the same, in legal terms not guilty is neutral in terms of innocence. It’s more of a reflection on evidence or levels of proof and reasonable doubt.

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 4 months ago

Exactly the chain of custody is a nice legal term and people hear thta and it sounds like massive mistreatment and an explanation as to how a FOREIGN substance got into the sample (apparently urine left at room temperature for an extra day starts syntheszing new teststerones)

Who know maybe Braun has stumble on to a way to manufacture cheap PED’s? (I jest)

The other thing noone mentions…. if the test occurs 4 hours later (and the FedEx really is closed), the courier followed proper procedure.

The issue was him thinking the FedEx was closed at 5pm on Saturday…. this is the “massive” chain of custody failure apparently.

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 4 months ago

Sorry – Reply fail…please ignore

deadhead
Member
deadhead
4 years 4 months ago

If COC is important enough in the lab to be thoroughly documented and mandatory, why isn’t it important before hand? You would think that it would be more important before getting to the lab. And if the triple sealed samples are so tamper proof as to negate all doubt, why not give the players 44 hours to drop their own samples off at FedEx. COC is part of the scientific method. Challenging it is challenging the science.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

No it isn’t. Outside the lab COC is more about preventing tampering than science. Also, I fail to see where the COC was broken in a material fashion, It was in the MLB-MLBPA collectors house, which presumably was locked when the collector was not at home, as opposed to being in Fed Ex warehouse/storage area waiting for shipment.

Storage conditions are a concern, but even in the lab, improper storage often results in minimal impact on test results. Brauns results were order of magnitudes over the limit, so unlikely to be due to storage at 60 deg as opposed to 4 deg. That’s just a scientific fact.

Mick O
Guest
Mick O
4 years 4 months ago

I place very little faith in ESPN, or any other outlet’s, reporting of what was or was not argued at the actual hearing. Given the abysmal state of legal reporting in the media, they very well may have misinterpreted what actually happened. The arbitrator, Das, will issue his opinion in the next couple of weeks. That’s when we’ll have a good idea if the arbitrator felt it was only a procedural error, or if there was more to it than that,.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
4 years 4 months ago

The sample tested positive, period. Either it was his sample or not is the question. In this era of $100 Million players, there is certainly some incentive for some to slant an outcome your way by removing some competition. How likley this happened would determine if you want to accept or reject the results.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I read an article earlier today that indicated the false positive rate, for a variety of reasons, was 4%. That seems high, but the sample sizes are typically 50-100. What was as troubling was the false negative rate was 14%.

hk
Guest
hk
4 years 4 months ago

Please provide the link to the article. Thanks.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

False positive for the T/E test about 6%. Much lower if not nill for the CIR test.

Wally
Guest
Wally
4 years 4 months ago

Braun himself said the results were 3 times higher than the next highest level recorded

CJ
Guest
CJ
4 years 4 months ago

Will Carroll was interviewed on the radio, and he says that his sources tell him that Braun’s defense team was able to show the arbitration panel that they replicated the same kind of positive test result by subjecting a urine sample to the same conditions as occurred in the broken chain of custody.
http://audio.weei.com/a/52238582/will-carroll-si-com-on-ryan-braun-s-50-game-suspension-being-overturned.htm

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

ZOINKS! Holy schnieke! anyone who thinks he’s guilty really, really, really, needs to listen to Wil Carroll on the link above. Thnx so much, CJ

Joe
Guest
Joe
4 years 4 months ago

The interview is garbage – there was no mention of whether they were able to replicate the failed the CIR (mass spec) test, they only talked about T/E

It’s kind of sad that everyone is so focused on the epi ratio (T/E) test and completely seem to ignore that the more comprehensive (and accurate) CIR test detected an exogenous testosterone in Brauns sample. ESPN had an article on this where they interviewed several experts who said short of external contamination there is no way for room temp urine to suddenly generate an exogenous testosterone.

In short they can explain why the first test MAY have failed, but have no way of showing that the CIR test would fail.

Do people not realize a positive test requires more than just the T/E ratio is out of whack and a secondary CIR test is performed to identify an actual substance? Brauns team has done a tremendous job focusing everyone on the T/E ratio test and pretending the CIR test also didn’t fail… And people who want to believe malfeasance are so focused on T/E ratios and sample aging that they seem to forget a BANNED substance was found in the urine.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

This study says it’s nonsense.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rcm.2387/abstract

Decreases in concentration were observed after 7 days of storage at 37°C due to the partial cleavage of the glucuronide conjugates; however, the T/E ratio was not affected.

Of course, if they used Brauns urine sample maybe they got the same positive results.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

That proves nothing. Braun’s sample WAS NOT KEPT REFRIGERATED.

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

Refrigeration is…. 37 celsius is pretty warm, Bstar.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Did you listen to Will Carroll, Jeff?

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Good point about the Celsius, though. But Braun’s defense lawyers were able to pull it off, so who’s to say pft’s link is credible?

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds
4 years 4 months ago

The journal cited is a peer-reviewed scientific journal. How could it not be more credible than the science fair project cooked up by Braun’s lawyers?

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

We know one thing for sure: the Braun camp’s ability to prove a sample can produce a false positive if subjected to the same conditions as Braun’s sample was credible enough to convince the arbitrator. Don’t you think both sides had scientists saying this was possible/impossible? And yet they made it happen. Case closed.

Bill but not Ted
Guest
Bill but not Ted
4 years 4 months ago

I regret this, but I did look at ESPN comment board to gauge opinions. I feel extremely dirty and just cannot get the rank ignorance off of me.

I did have an interesting thought though

This comment chain is about the same, just FG readers use bigger words

Brad
Guest
Brad
4 years 4 months ago

Well, that’s something! At least our words are bigger! :-)

Nyet Jones
Guest
Nyet Jones
4 years 4 months ago

“In social science terms”

???

Or, you know, statistics terms.

Nyet Jones
Guest
Nyet Jones
4 years 4 months ago

And to the commenter who thinks you can’t do a DNA test on a urine sample – it is absolutely routine to find bladder and urethral cells in a urine sample. This is why if you want a truly clean sample you would do a cystocentesis, i.e. stick the collection needle directly into the bladder. Thanks to PCR tech, you need next to no DNA to amplify a DNA sample to the point where it would be beyond easy to test it for a match. So it’s still confusing as to why MLB denied Braun’s request.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 4 months ago

This is what I thought also (re: sloughing of skin/tissue cells when urinating).

Wally
Guest
Wally
4 years 4 months ago

Will Carroll said the test was more than 3 times higher. Does anyone have any possible refuting points to this argument? http://audio.weei.com/a/52238582/will-carroll-si-com-on-ryan-braun-s-50-game-suspension-being-overturned.htm

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

Well, the director of the lab MLB uses HAS stated that Braun’s T/E ratio was within the ranges he’s used to seeing in a positive sample. I’m also waiting for Will Carroll’s sources to explain how tupperware turns Carbon-12 into Carbon-13. If Carroll is going to play medical expert on the internet, he should really bone up on his basic sciences before parroting ridiculous statements like he has been.

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 4 months ago

Ridiculous statements?? He was simply relaying what happened at the trial. There’s nothing he said that was “his opinion”.

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

Look up “parroting.” Braun’s team passed along some info that anyone with almost ANY scientific background would guffaw at, and the self-proclaimed world’s foremost expert on pitching injuries just passed it along.

JR
Guest
JR
4 years 4 months ago

Any comment – http://forums.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=110&p=30604269

No, you can’t spontaneously sprout synthetic T in urine sample, but the test that “determines” that synthetic T is present does not actually find synthetic T in urine. What it does is identify the metabolites produced when T is used up by your body processes. It identifies them only by very precisely detemining when the remnants of those metabolites pass in front of a sensor after the urine sample has been literally turned into a gas. The gas rises up a tube and the different remnant rise at microscopically different rates. A sensor records data about these remnants as they pass by. This data is turned into a printout (though it can also be evaluated just as numbers). Then you look on your printout for a peak at a given “time” on the graph, you measure that peak and make a determination as to what that means.

Here’s the catch. What if two different things are passing by the sensor at a give time? If you are predisposed to think that everything passing by that sensor at that specific time is indicative of synthetic T, you’re going to get a big peak that looks like a lot of synthetic T that is actually only a mcuh smaller amounts of two different things. (And that small amount, for reasons alluded to in posts long ago, would not mean that there was a small amount of synthetic T, either. A determination of synthetic T being present can only be made by comparing ratios of different carbon ions, both of which are present in nature, and then making a statistical hypothesis that a certain ratio is “out of whack” with what would normally be expected in a given sample. It’s diagnostic art and statistics as much as anything.

This is a vast oversimplification, but the point is that you don’t “find’ synthetic T waving back at you from under a microscope. These tests are extraordinarily complex in nature. Just reading this simplified version should provide further insight into why I say it’s virtually impossible for the athlete to challenge the conclusion of the testers when they say they’re right.

Joe
Guest
Joe
4 years 4 months ago

Everything after the first paragraph seems like it was written with someone with a 3rd grade science background… it is not a vast oversimplification as the author suggests, it is vast ignorance on how the technique works. The metabolite part in the first paragraph is correct

The test is looking at relative ratio of carbon isotopes which follow different signatures based on the type of testosterones (or I should say metabolites) This what if the gas passes by the sensor at the same time scenario is beyond mind numbingly dumb.

Heck even if you know nothing about the science….let’s play this out. MLB/WADA/international groups adds a substance to the PED list; and they just hope the current drug testing technique will work? They don’t validate that their testing techniques accurately detect the substance? Yes there is always some error rate involved, but the author of that comment is suggesting a failure on the scientific technique.

All I can say is everything after the 1st paragraph is insanity…

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

Interference can occur in these tests, but they are done several times. What the test is really determining is the mean ratio of C13 and c12. They can not differentiate between synthetic and natural testosterone. they determine if synthetic was used based on how low the ratio of C13/C12, or d C13 is.

marc
Guest
marc
4 years 4 months ago

I think MLB are clods and this was a test case by MLBPA. Braun absolutely knew the test would be overturned, and just reading through the comments, there’s many many layers of doubt. The poster’s 90/10 discussion (whatever numbers you put in) is absolutely valid, drug testing is NOT very accurate, and only holds up when the testee has agreed to certain terms and conditions that presuppose that the procedure is accepted as accurate. This does not “prove” the test is accurate, it only serves to prove that certain terms and conditions were met.

MLB did not do this, which throws out the agreement. That opens the door to all kinds of burdens of proof that simply cannot be met. MLB refused a DNA test ?!? That’s a smoking gun to me. I understand that the arbitrator technically I’m sure only ruled on the agreed-upon procedure, but I can see him throwing up his hands.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

MLB sources say Braun backed out of the DNA test when they agreed. If true, is this still a smoking gun?

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

The guy who collected the sample spelled out the exact circumstances in response to Braun’s insinuation that he had reason to tamper with the result. I hope someone in the Milwaukee media makes a habit of asking exactly what things Braun “learned about the collector” to make him doubt the security of the test, and will call Braun a deceitful scumbag if he fails to answer.

pft
Guest
pft
4 years 4 months ago

Here is the link to the collectors comments.

Seems to be a pretty decent guy and his explanations make sense.

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/28/wisconsin-man-who-collected-ryan-brauns-urine-sample-issues-statement-to-set-the-record-straight/

wpDiscuz