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To the delight of all Milwaukee Brewers fans, yet simultaneously to the dismay of baseball purists, Friday brought news that Brewers left fielder and reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun had won his appeal against the 50 game suspension that Major League Baseball was poised to hand him following his failing of a performance enhancing drug test in October of 2011.
“Today is for everybody who has ever been wrongly accused,” said Braun at a news conference held at the Brewers training facility shortly after. “The simple truth is that I’m innocent. The truth is always relevant, and the truth prevailed.”
Braun, whose test results uncovered elevated levels of testosterone in his system that were made public in a December episode of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” became the first player in baseball history to successfully appeal a drug-related sentencing. Braun vehemently denied ever taking any sort of performance enhancer from the beginning of this entire process and continued to echo that same sentiment on Friday.
“If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say I did it,” Braun said. “I would bet my life this substance never entered my body.”
MLB officials were livid with the arbitrator’s ruling, considering that Braun’s winning case argued against the fashion in which the procedure was handled, as opposed to claiming wrongful tampering took place or that the test was simply incorrect. Two unnamed sources vouched for Braun, stating that the urine sample that he provided on October 1was not delivered by the collector to FedEx until two days later.
MLB’s drug testing policy requires that all samples make their way to FedEx the very same day. The sources identified the collector as Dino Laurenzi, Jr. and testified that he left Miller Park with the sample at 5 P.M. on Saturday, October 1. It was said to be in a triple-seal container.
Laurenzi, Jr. then allegedly decided to take the sample home and not deliver it to Fed Ex until 1:30 P.M. on October 3, feeling that it would not be sent out to the lab in Montreal until Monday anyway. He supposedly placed it in a cool, dry area during that time period, and the lab chief told ESPN’s Lester Munson that the sample had not been tainted in any way and that the positive test result was indeed valid.
However, Braun still focused on the delay of the process, referring to it as “fatally flawed,” and questioned what could have happened to the sample during the 44-hour window between pickup and delivery.
“Our program is not fatally flawed,” said MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred in a statement. “Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors regarding when samples should be delivered to FedEx based on the arbitrator’s decision.
Neither Mr. Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering.” Because MLB did not follow protocol the way that they should have, there was not enough sufficient evidence to rule Braun guilty.
“I’ve lived this nightmare every day for the last four months,” Braun said. “At the end of the day, the truth prevailed. I’m the victim of a process that completely broke down.”
Sources are now saying that MLB may look to appeal the ruling in federal court.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevethephotographer/