Ryan Braun

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On February 23, Ryan Braun got his 50-game suspension overturned because baseball failed to follow its own drug testing agreement procedures. Braun’s press conference the following day was essentially unscripted, well-articulated, and quite believable. His defense team focused strictly on the fact that his urine specimen (for whatever reason) was not sent to the Anti-Doping Lab in Montreal until 44 hours after it was taken.

The policy requires same-day FedEx shipping. The 28-year old reigning NL MVP wins his case on a technicality, and becomes the first MLB player ever to win his appeal on a positive drug test. Baseball management is fuming over this interpretation and resulting decision by independent arbitrator Shyam Das (is that pronounced “sham”?)…….and further legal action may be forthcoming from BOTH sides.

All this decision leaves with me are many more questions than answers………such as,

• Why was Braun’s drug tester apparently not aware of the “same day” mailing requirement for sample specimens?
• If “same-day” mailing is not followed, can anything be done to preserve the integrity of a sample specimen? If so, was this “preservation” fulfilled by Braun’s drug tester/urine courier?
• Why did the lab seemingly never question the integrity of the sample specimen they received for Braun?
• Why did the lab still conduct the test if Braun’s sample specimen was not mailed the same day it was taken? Was the lab not aware of this procedural requirement or just believed it to be immaterial toward testing results?
• If the lab deemed the sample specimen valid, and if all lab testing procedures were followed correctly, why are Braun’s positive results invalid?
• Why were Ryan Braun’s testosterone levels the highest ever recorded?
• Why were Braun’s positive results leaked out back in December if all testing is to be conducted in strict confidentiality according to the drug testing agreement between baseball management and the players union? Specifically, who leaked out this information and why (to date) have they not been held accountable?
• Why is baseball management so upset with this decision (since the testing procedures were mutually agreed upon), and not focusing on better quality control and/or re-training of all those involved in the process?
• How many other tests may have been conducted without adherence to same-day specimen mailing, and what were the findings of those particular tests?
• How accurate and reliable is the current MLB drug testing process?

The Brewer’s front office, Braun’s teammates, his agent, accountant, and all Brewer fans are celebrating. That rush of air you just felt was the city of Milwaukee collectively exhaling. Ryan Braun’s lawyers may have found a loophole in this particular test, and there may be revealing details about this whole case that we’ll NEVER know because of the so-called confidentiality inherent in the drug testing agreement. (Maybe some of Das’ written findings can leak out too…….that could help). But, dammit, I still don’t know for sure if Braun was or is still using performance enhancing drugs!

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