Ryan Braun Beats the System… Maybe

Yesterday an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder and reigning NL MVP and overturned a 50 game suspension for abnormally high levels of synthetic testosterone… aka, a failed test for performance enhancing drugs. 

For anyone who hasn’t paid attention, Braun was failed a test back in October in which his testosterone measured through the roof.  The story broke thanks to a leak and ESPN, accusation flew from every which direction, and Ryan Braun shouted his innocence from the rooftops.  Braun took his case to through the appeal process in hopes of proving his innocence and having the suspension revoked.  This seemed unlikely seeing as how no one in MLB has ever overturned such a suspension

Then yesterday the unthinkable happened.  Braun actually got the suspension overturned.  But how?

According to reports, after Braun peed into that tiny little cup, a process that is far more difficult and far more nerve-racking than you can imagine, the handler failed to follow proper protocol.  Instead of shipping it via Fed-Ex or securing it in a cool place he left it sitting out on his desk at home for two days.  In related news, the unemployment line in this country officially grew by one.

Thanks to the lack of proper chain of custody, there was enough reasonable doubt for the arbitrator to rule in Braun’s favor and throw the test and suspension out.  The logic of course being these rules for proper handling of specimens are in place for a reason.  That reason of course is to protect the players from tampering and any other wide number of problems that could arise.  Did something happen in the time the sample sat on that desk?  Who knows?  But, it was enough to rule in Braun’s favor.

Major League Baseball is pissed.

They aren’t happy at all with the decision and have sworn to escalate the matter, perhaps to go as far as taking Braun to court in order to have the appeal appealed by a judge.  That too could be unprecedented.  Major League Baseball suing one of its own players.  Has that ever happened?  All I know is this probably can’t end well for anyone if it comes to that, but we’ll have to wait and see.

But what does all of this mean for Ryan Braun?

Well, it doesn’t exactly mean he’s back to being the same old Ryan Braun.  Remember, he didn’t prove the test was faulty or that he wasn’t taking performance enhancing drugs.  He simply proved that there was an error in how the sample he provided did not follow the proper protocols in terms of how it was handled.  So yes, while Braun won’t miss any time this season it doesn’t mean he won’t hear a smattering of boos in visiting stadiums when he steps into the batter’s box.  People will have their opinions and they aren’t going to change based on what happened in this case.

As for myself, I’m leaning more in favor of believing Ryan Braun.  Call me naive or whatever, but I really do believe something happened here.  Not only was the proper procedure not followed but his test was apparently the highest recorded positive test ever, at least for a baseball player.  How could he have failed the test so badly?  He also never failed any test either before or immediately following.  As icing on the cake, Braun even offered up blood and DNA in order to prove the test was wrong.  MLB apparently rejected his offer.  Why would someone who tested positive be so willing to offer up more evidence?  Um… maybe because he didn’t do it.

Be that as it may, I’m not going to say he didn’t do it.  There’s a very good possibility that Braun did take performance enhancers and people like myself are idiots for believing him.  All I know is exactly what Braun said in his statement today.  This is a nation built on the concept of innocent until proven guilty and baseball players are held under the scrutiny of guilty until proven innocent.  That’s b.s.  Until someone can definitively say yes he did or no he didn’t, Braun should be given just as much leeway as any other person.

Let’s just hope he’s strong enough to endure all of the backlash that he’s sure to endure this coming season.  He has a lot of work ahead of him to restore his good name.  This decision was just the first step of many he’s about to take.

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