December 19, 2011
Ever since Major League Baseball announced he had tested positive for a banned substance Dec. 10, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has proclaimed his innocence. The celebrity journalism specialists over at TMZ reported Monday that Braun tested positive for "medication he's taking for a private medical issue — NOT performance enhancing drugs."
The nature of Braun's medical ailment is unclear.
It probably won't matter in MLB's eyes if Braun received only a "medical" benefit from using a banned substance, even if by "accident." Unless the samples Braun submitted were tainted during the chain of custody, he's going down.
Victor Conte agrees, saying that nothing short of a miracle will prevent Braun from serving a 50-game suspension in 2012 — like Manny Ramirez had to do in 2009. Appearing on KNBR radio this past week, Conte said the tactics of Braun's attorneys probably will fail:
"The first thing I hear that they're saying is it's an extremely high level, the highest that's ever been recorded. Are they talking about in baseball or are they talking about in general? … I'm not sure about that, but this is a double-whammy for him. Unless there's some chain-of-custody issue, other technical problem during the collection and transport process, he's basically dead in the water. … I believe he's going to serve the 50-game suspension."
If anybody indirectly involved knows what's going on with Braun getting flagged, it's Conte, the BALCO founder and player in the Barry Bonds saga who still works at the forefront of the sports nutrition and conditioning business. Conte also reminds us that the era of players using PEDs isn't over. It's simply more sophisticated:
"[W]hat they're doing is using fast-acting testosterone — creams, gels, orals, patches — and they clear so quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours. … They could conceivably, after a game, use testosterone to help with tissue repair and healing and recovery and by the time they'd show up at the park the next day, their PE ratio would be normal. I always knew there was this giant loophole that you could drive a Mack truck through."
It might be unpopular to say, but if these drugs really aid "tissue repair" and what not, it should be considered good for the game, not bad. One day, the stigma of PEDs will lessen and we'll be encouraging our professional athletes — not punishing them — for trying to heal faster.
Big BLS h/t: Sports Radio Interviews
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