Ryan Braun sued by longtime friend
A longtime friend of Ryan Braun's filed a lawsuit against the suspended slugger last month, charging that Braun defamed him after the friend provided help in his successful appeal of Braun's positive steroid test in 2011.
Ralph Sasson, 29, makes a number of personal accusations against Braun, saying in the lawsuit that Braun doped through his years at the University of Miami, committed academic fraud and accepted money while a student.
Reached this week, Sasson declined to comment and said the lawsuit speaks for itself.
Braun's attorney, Howard Weitzman, rejected the claims.
"This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on Ryan's recent press attention for taking responsibility for his actions. The factual allegations and the legal claims have absolutely no merit. We believe the lawsuit will be dismissed," he said in a statement.
Sasson, who describes himself as a law student, says he was contacted by Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, in November 2011 after Braun was notified that he had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Part of his assignment, the lawsuit says, was to conduct background research on the man who collected Braun's urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr.
The lawsuit says Sasson was forced to threaten Braun and Balelo with a lawsuit in order to recover $5,000 that he says was promised, and that he was paid last year when he agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But Sasson charges that Braun violated that agreement when he made what Sasson calls defamatory statements about him to undisclosed parties. Sasson asks for unspecified damages in the complaint.
The lawsuit also says that Braun asked Sasson to "prank call" ESPN "Outside the Lines" reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada, who was working with reporter T.J. Quinn on a story in December 2011 that Braun had failed a PED test. According to the lawsuit, Braun wanted Sasson to say, "The original information Quinn and Fainaru-Wada had obtained regarding Braun was part of an elaborate conspiracy to assassinate the character of multiple baseball players and agents including, but not limited to, Ryan Braun."
Sasson says in the lawsuit that he refused.
Meanwhile, USA Today reported Friday that Braun is close to admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs during parts of the 2011 season. The newspaper, citing friends of Braun who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the suspended slugger plans to apologize to commissioner Bud Selig, urine collector Dino Laurenzi Jr., his teammates and his peers.