Redeeming Ryan Braun: Positive Test Overturned

Score one for those who reserved judgment: Ryan Braun has seen his positive test overturned by the independent panel headed by arbiter Shyam Das.

Braun put out a statement that this was a “first step in restoring my good name and reputation,” but if this had gone differently, there would have no need for redemption.

His positive test was supposed to be confidential. Then, he was supposed to go through the appeal process, and had the same result been found, the general public would never had heard anything about this. No columnist would have wagged their finger at him. Nobody would have called for him to return his hardware.

Instead, news of his initial test was leaked, and his name was sullied by many. There’s no use getting mad at any news outlet for printing the story — once they had it in their hands, there was no way they were going to sit on dynamite. You can get mad at the person that leaked the story. If you find him.

In any case, the leak prompted the MLBPA to make the unusual step of releasing the results of the appeal. They, also, were concerned that a high profile player had had his reputation affected for no good reason.

MLB Executive Rob Manfred was not happy with the ruling, however. From MLB.com:

“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our clubs and all of the players who take the field,” Manfred said. “It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.

“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

Taking aside the rare nature of a statement like this, the statement is a head scratcher.

For one, why make any statement at all? If baseball disagrees with the process they set in place, there are plenty of avenues at their dispersal for changing the process. Privately.

So taking the disagreement public must have been about signalling to the public. The first signal might make sense, as a warning to the players — if you are planning on using this excuse in the future, beware. MLB is on the case. They are not happy with the precedent that was set, and they are working on it. Baseball has been accused of turning a blind eye to steroids too long, but this statement assures fans that this is the case no longer.

But the signal forgets one thing: Ryan Braun. Science — or the collectively bargained scientific process, at the very least — determined that his test did not stand up to scrutiny. Why would you come out and make a statement against the processes you agreed to put in place? Why would you continue to sully the name of a player that has just found some redemption? Why would you do this publicly?

Once the ruling was announced, there were a few competing interests at play. MLB wanted to assure the fans that it was no longer the laissez-faire league it once was assumed to be. MLBPA wanted to tell everyone how well they stuck up for themselves.

Ryan Braun just wanted to be Ryan Braun again.

We hoped you liked reading Redeeming Ryan Braun: Positive Test Overturned by Eno Sarris!

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Kellin
Guest
Kellin

Everything that I read says that he tested dirty, sample wasn’t shipped immediately so they are throwing out the test. He didn’t even challenge the science only the procedure…
…..

…..

Dude still tested dirty

bryan
Guest
bryan

…justice adverted by technicality

Yirmiyahu
Member

The fact that the tainted urine might not have been Braun’s is a “technicality” ?

Psst
Guest
Psst

Yes when the person in posession of the sample followed a standard procedure

Someanalyst
Guest
Someanalyst

@Yirmiyahu – the whole “might have not been Braun’s” thing is extremely pedantic. The sample spent some time in a fridge because the Fedex weekend shipping deadline was missed. But the seals placed on the sample were intact & authenticated. The urine was Braun’s. Period. Shas’s ruling is more about the nature of the contract between MLB & MLBPA than it is about Braun’s guilt or lack thereof.

rubesandbabes
Guest
rubesandbabes

There is no question in my mind that Braun used steroids for recovery a la Floyd Landis.

Not onboard with the Braun defender / apologist tone of this article.

He got off on a technicality. He is a PED user, probably not the only one in the NL MVP top 10.

oldschoolways
Member
Member
oldschoolways

It’s nice that you can be so sure.

rubesandbabes
Guest
rubesandbabes

oldschoolways:

The first clue is the floating of the VD story…

Justin F
Guest
Justin F

Matt-
You make an excellent point. We do not know if Braun coming up clean on his next test should count as a tally in his favor. Few of us are truly knowledgeable about the effects of HGH on the human body. Hell, there’s an alarming number of people that do not realize HGH and steroids are not the same thing.

…however…

I fail to see how this “has left a black mark on his career.” Like you said, “the whole thing is in the grey area.” Not the black-mark-on-your-career area.

In college I would sometimes get scolded by my professors for not citing all my sources, so I want to give a shout out to the US Judicial System credit for my closing argument: that every person is innocent until proven guilty, and without a reasonable doubt.

jim
Guest
jim
Justin F
Guest
Justin F

Braun did not challenge the science because the arbitration panel will/has never sided with a player using that defense…doing so would invalidate MLB’s drug-testing program.

He chose his defense because, legally, it gave him the best chance of winning. The approach he took was tactical. Challenging the science- instead of procedures- would have been a sure loss; MLB does not allow you to question their science.

jeff_bonds
Guest
jeff_bonds

I would have liked to hear Braun’s alternative scientific levels, but no, MLB wouldn’t let him question THEIR science.

Socal Baseball
Guest
Socal Baseball

The same science used by WADA? What science do you think they should use?

Braun cheated. This changes nothing.

Cidron
Member
Cidron

He was tested.. Test was mishandled.. taken home by the courier as the Fed-Ex was closed.. did the courier taint it, deliberatly or inadvertently.. Braun has taken many tests, including one immediately after, which all came back clean. Due to the irregularities in the handling of the test, along with all other test results, I give him the benefit of the doubt here.

Matt
Guest
Matt

It would be nice to get some facts straight. First, samples are sealed. If the sample was provided to Fed Ex unsealed/resealed/broken seal, the sample would have been thrown out and we wouldn’t be talking about this today. I think its safe to assume that the courier simply broke protocol thinking Fed Ex was closed and that the sample would be safer in their fridge vs. in a closed Fed Ex facility over the weekend. A very bad error in judgment to say the least. Second, the sample was tested by the WDA in Monreal and did show high levels of synthetic testosterone. Third, and most importantly to you Cidron — he did not take another test “right away” as he was not informed of his failed test “right away”. He was performed after the playoffs, and that test, by an independent lab, came back within normal levels. I’m no expert, so I have no idea how quickly levels can change, or whether they can be masked, so I won’t speak to the science. Finally, because he challenged on the chain of custody, he did get off on a technicality. Since he did not challenge the actual test results, it is unfair and incorrect to say he was clean, but because the chain of custody was not proper, its also unfair to say with 100% certainty that he is/was dirty. Overall, the whole thing is in the grey area, but has left a black mark on his career.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

So now we’re blaming the Courier’s taint?

Justin F
Guest
Justin F

Let me see if I can sum up the anti-Braun argument:

The fact that a confidential test was somehow made public by the same organization (MLB) who hired a random stranger from FedEx, who then took a piece of privately-owned evidence home with him, somehow taints Ryan That it makes him guilty? Without a reasonable doubt?

That might be the weakest argument anyone has ever made about anything. But good news is I have some magic beans to sell you.

Side note: Am I the only one disturbed that a FedEx employee took a privately-owned, work-related document home with him FOR 2 DAYS?? Is this common practice?

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter

Justin, you did a pretty poor job of summing up the anti-Braun argument. The argument is more like this:

Suppose cops find cocaine in your house. As it turns out, they didn’t have a proper search warrant so you don’t have to do any time. Does that make you innocent, just because you got away on a technicality? When push comes to shove, you still had cocaine in your house.

Why are you assuming that the courier tainted the evidence? How would he even do that, if it was sealed? And as for the two day issue, what else is he supposed to do? If I give you a package to take to the post office on a Saturday and you think the post office is closed – wouldn’t you keep the package until Monday?

Yirmiyahu
Member

vivalajeter, that’s a poor analogy. It’s more like, pursuant to a murder investigation, the police test your DNA against some skin found underneath the victim’s fingernails. Your DNA matches, and you’re put on trial for murder. Except the police lab technician brought the DNA samples home in violation of required procedures. And who knows what happened with the DNA samples while they were at this random tech’s house all weekend. Technicality?

Also: the Constitution of the United States is hardly a technicality.

DD
Guest
DD

Yirmiyahu – didn’t that happen in the OJ case, more or less?

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool

@vivaeljeter All issues of Braun aside.

It’s not a technicality when the police enter your house without a warrant, it’s the governement breaking and entering into your home. There are really good reasons that the government can’t call anything evidence that gets acquired that way.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter

Phil, I agree 100%, and in a court of law the evidence absolutely should not count. But that doesn’t take away the fact that you had coke with you – and in the court of public opinion, they’ll take that into account.

pft
Guest
pft

There is no proof it was anyone in MLB that leaked it.

MLB hired nobody to collect. MLB and MLBPA agreed to hire CDT to collect. CDT also works for the DOJ.

The collector has been vetted by CDT, and his home is probably as secure as the Fed Ex storage area over a weekend. If any tapering is done while the sample is in his custody, he has to answer to the FBI.

What would motivate him to tamper with the sample anyways, and risk prosecution?

E-Dub
Guest
E-Dub

“But that doesn’t take away the fact that you had coke with you”

The presence of cocaine in my house is in no way proof that it is mine. This analogy is flawed and a very poor example of what you’re trying to say. It’s a helluva lot easier for cocaine that’s not mine to get into my house than it is for testosterone that’s not mine to get into my urine.

Dustin
Guest
Dustin

You aren’t reading the right things then.

soupman
Member
soupman

anxiously waiting for the first show to go ‘behind the scenes’ to show you how samples are taken, sealed, etc. all the way through the procedure.

also awaiting a urologist/biologist who can explain how time and temperature affect urine samples, and how synthetic testosterone would show up in such a big way.

nathan
Guest
nathan

I’ve always wanted to take some PEDs myself but I don’t like needles. Now I know just to leave the rubbers at home the next time I sleep with some questionable skank. The VD medications now come packed with insanely high levels of synthetic testosterone.

James Gentile
Member

what’s this I keep hearing about Ryan Braun having a hair piece?

rea
Guest
rea

Delay in testing the sample can cause false positives–that’s why they have these rules about handling the sample. Add to that the fact that he had the highest test result in history, and it’s obvious that there was something screwy about the test results.

Joe33
Member
Joe33

That’s the bottom line: he tested positive, something that he has not refuted in arbitration, but publicly he wants to act like it was all a misunderstanding.

I, for one, am happy we still have sources willing to leak information. It’s the only thing that keeps any faith in this testing system.

If this were the Olympics, Braun is sitting for two years, but MLB has its own arbitration and appeals policy which is completely “in house” and not at all independent or transparent. The arbitrators are appointed by MLB and the MLBPA.

What’s needed is an overseer from WADA at EVERY stage of the process, including the appeals stage.

Why was Braun given so much time in this case? The whole thing appeared suspect from day one.