Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Caution advised in Ryan Braun case
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- People should wait for all of the facts before making conclusions about NL MVP Ryan Braun, baseball's union head said Tuesday.
The Milwaukee Brewers star has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if the initial finding is upheld, two sources familiar with the case told "Outside the Lines."
Major League Baseball has not announced the positive test because Braun is disputing the result through arbitration.
In a statement, players' association leader Michael Weiner said that the drug agreement is designed to protect a player from "a rush to judgment."
"Fairness dictates that Ryan Braun be treated no differently," he said.
In a statement issued Saturday, a spokesman for Braun confirmed the positive test. "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program," the spokesman said.
USA Today reported Saturday night that Braun said of the test result: "It's B.S."
Every individual naturally produces testosterone and a substance called epitestosterone, typically at a ratio of 1-to-1. In Major League Baseball, if the ratio comes in at 4-to-1 or higher during testing, a player is deemed to have tested positive. The sources did not indicate to "Outside The Lines" how high above the threshold Braun's sample tested.
To affirm the results and strengthen its case, MLB asked the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, which conducts its testing, to perform a secondary test to determine whether the testosterone spike resulted from natural variations within Braun's body or from an artificial source. The test indicated the testosterone was exogenous, meaning it came from outside his body.
Since being informed of the results, Braun has been disputing his case. A source close to Braun told "Outside The Lines" that when he was told about the positive test, he immediately requested to be tested again. That second test, using a different sample that was tested by Braun's camp, the source said, was not positive.
Those close to Braun believe that the difference between the two tests will show that the first test was invalid. Although Braun's representatives acknowledge that a non-positive test would not negate a positive one, they believe the second test shows certain anomalies that will suggest problems with the first. They declined to be specific.
In April, Braun signed a five-year contract extension worth $105 million. He then went out and had his best season ever, carrying the Brewers to their first division title in nearly three decades. He led the league in slugging percentage at .597, with a .332 batting average, 33 home runs, 111 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 33 stolen bases.
MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Policy calls for strict liability among players, meaning if a player tests positive, the league is "not required to otherwise establish intent, fault, negligence or knowing use of a Prohibited Substance on the Player's part to establish such a violation."
Even if a player can establish he did not knowingly take a banned substance, he must show he was not in any way negligent in order to appeal successfully. For example, taking a dietary supplement that contains an unlabeled performance-enhancing drug would not be sufficient grounds for appeal, but if he were to show that he ingested something that was either tampered with or no player reasonably could have assumed to have been contaminated, the appeal might succeed.
The source close to Braun told "Outside The Lines" he believes that standard can be met.
Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn of ESPN's enterprise unit and The Associated Press contributed to this report.