Ryan Braun's lawyer critical of collector
NEW YORK -- Ryan Braun's lawyer criticized the lengthy statement from the person who collected the slugger's drug sample, saying Thursday the NL MVP "was properly vindicated."
"Ryan Braun presented a winning defense in the forum that counted," attorney David Cornwell said in a statement. "The landmark decision in Ryan's favor was based on the evidence and the plain meaning of the words in baseball's joint drug program. The collector's attempt to re-litigate his conduct is inappropriate, and his efforts will only be persuasive to those who do not understand the evidence or the rules.
"Ryan Braun was properly vindicated. Both Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association should be applauded because their joint program worked."
Braun escaped a 50-game suspension last week when his positive test was overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das. The legal team for the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder argued in a grievance hearing that the drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., did not follow the procedures specified in baseball's drug agreement, which states the urine sample should be taken to a Federal Express office on the day it is collected "absent unusual circumstances."
Amid reports that some players are upset that Braun's suspension was overturned because of an alleged procedural error, Players Association officials continued their tour of spring training camps in Arizona on Thursday. Michael Weiner, executive director of the union, told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that MLB's drug testing policy has been discussed extensively during the clubhouse meetings.
"Players legitimately have a lot of of questions when something like this happens'' Weiner said. "I would actually be disappointed if they didn't have questions, because it shows they're paying attention. As always, they understand this is their career, and they want to make sure they understand what's going on.
"There are questions about what this means to the program, questions about confidentiality, a lot of questions. In the end, the players make the decisions about what kind of program they want, and whether they want to adjust it in any direction. That's always been the case.''
Laurenzi issued a statement Tuesday defending his actions, saying he never tampered with the urine sample. Laurenzi collected the sample on Oct. 1, a Saturday, and said he placed it in a Rubbermaid container in his basement office because "there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday." Laurenzi took it to Federal Express on Monday.
"At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples. It is my understanding that the samples were received at the laboratory with all tamper-resistant seals intact," Laurenzi said in his statement.
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations, said last week the league "vehemently disagrees with the decision" and called the collector "extremely experienced," adding he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."
Manfred declined comment on Cornwell's statement as did Boyd Johnson III of WilmerHale, the lawyer retained by Laurenzi.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Jerry Crasnick was used in this report.