Ryan Braun beats the rap (US Presswire)
That's right, Ryan Braun has won his PED suspension appeal and will not — repeat: NOT — be required to sit out the first 50 games of the Brewers' season. The news was first reported by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. This is believed to be the first time that a major league player has triumphed on appeal in a PED suspension case.
Here are a few additional details, via Haudricourt:
Braun appealed the positive test that took place in early October, at the outset of the playoffs. His hearing before a three-man arbitration panel was held in New York on Jan. 19-20, when noted attorney David Cornwell presented his case against the test result and suspension.
A source familiar with MLB's drug policy indicated there were only a few ways to overturn a positive test, such as proving a chain-of-custody issue, a flaw in the collection process or providing proof that the player's team signed off on the substance. Otherwise, the "strict liability" aspect of the policy makes it extremely difficult to exonerate a player.
We should note that Braun has maintained his innocence throughout the lifespan of this story (and in this statement released after Thursday's announcement), though his appeal reportedly succeeded due to chain-of-custody concerns. Apparently, his original sample was not transferred immediately to FedEx, per the usual handling procedures, but instead sat in the collector's fridge for part of a weekend. And no, that is not a joke. You can say Braun dodged suspension due to a loophole or a technicality or whatever else, but chain-of-custody is actually a huge deal. All parties need to follow all rules.
In any case, this is clearly a big win for the reigning National League MVP and his ballclub, and it's just a massive score for anyone who'd already drafted Braun in a fantasy league. With the 50-gamer looming, Braun was the No. 19 outfielder on my draft board. Now, with a full 162 games ahead, he'll jump to No. 3, behind only Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp (and those three aren't separated by much). Braun vaults into the top-six in my overall ranks, too, an obvious top-of-draft selection.
Major League Baseball has released a statement saying it "vehemently disagrees" with the decision made by the arbitrator. The dude who owns Braun at $25 in my N.L.-only dynasty league released a statement of his own: "Bwahahaha."
- Ryan Braun