Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun won his appeal and will not have to serve a 50-game suspension that was handed down after the reigning National League MVP tested positive for a banned substance back in December.
What isn’t exactly clear is why the ruling was overturned. It might have been that either the chain of custody was compromised or the test results itself was unreliable. MLB has noted its disagreement with the decision.
Whatever the case, Braun will report to Brewers spring training camp tomorrow in Arizona.
UPDATE: Braun held a press conference today at the Brewers’ spring training facility in Phoenix where he elaborated on what went wrong with his test. He stated:
We’re a part of a process where you’re 100% guilty until proven innocent. It’s opposite of the American judicial system. This not an innocent until proven guilty situation. So, if we’re held to that standard, it’s only fair that everyone else is held to that exact same standard.
Braun then cited MLB/MLBPA Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program which requires all samples to be taken to FedEx on the day they are collected “absent unusual circumstances.” Forty-four hours elapsed between the time Braun’s sample was taken and when it arrived at the FedEx facility.
Braun also noted that when a sample is taken the only two people who know which player gave the sample are the player and the person who collected the sample. Once FedEx receives the sample, it is assigned a number and the lab that does the testing in Montreal does not know the identity of the player to prevent bias. In Braun’s case, the collector’s son was also aware that it was he who gave the sample. Under the circumstances, the arbritrator had no choice but to overrule Braun’s suspension.
It also illustrates why I am so skeptical about the case against Roger Clemens. It relies heavily on evidence from Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee who kept Clemens’ samples in his home for more than six years. If a sample can be contaminated in the space of less than 48 hours then imagine what could happen over the course of six years?