Ryan Braun, serving a 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s anti-drug policy, used performance-enhancing drugs near the end of the 2011 season in order to deal with injuries, the Milwaukee Brewers star said Thursday in a statement issued by the team.
Braun had lied for more than a year and petitioned for support from fellow players following a positive test for synthetic testosterone after the 2011 season. He successfully appealed on a chain-of-custody technicality. On Thursday, several weeks after being suspended, he apologized to “Those who put their necks out for me [who] have been embarrassed by my behavior.”
As a result of Major League Baseball’s year-long investigation into Biogenesis, a Miami-area wellness clinic, Braun – along with more than a dozen others – was discovered to have conducted transactions with the company and its founder, Tony Bosch. Braun admitted to using cream and a lozenge designed to raise his testosterone and provide him a competitive advantage. The time frame of the documents appeared to coincide with Braun’s positive test.
Still, in an infamous press conference in February 2012, Braun challenged the program, impugned the test collector, and promised to continue to fight for his name and reputation.
Eighteen months later, Braun apologized for his actions, for the tone and message of the press conference, and for making friends and family part of his mistakes.
“I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator’s decision in February 2012,” Braun said in the statement. “At that time, I still didn’t want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self-righteous, and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did.
"I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.”
He did not address whether he’d taken performance-enhancing drugs before or after the period that led to his positive test in 2011.
Braun, 29, is a five-time All-Star, was Rookie of the Year in 2007, and in 2011, the year he tested positive, was National League MVP. He is under contract with the Brewers for seven more years and $127 million. During an investigation that also swept up Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Braun initially had lied about his ties to Biogenesis. Through his agent, Braun contended he’d consulted with Bosch during his 2011 appeal.
He played about four months of the 2013 season under that guise. He met with MLB investigators at the end of June, and at that point, he wrote, “I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth.” A month later, he accepted a suspension through the end of 2013.
“I was never presented with baseball’s evidence against me, but I didn’t need to be, because I knew what I had done,” Braun said. “I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of – and the punishment for – my actions.”
By accepting the suspension without appeal, Braun said, “I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first steps in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected – my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.”
In the statement, Braun apologized specifically to commissioner Bud Selig, executive vice president Rob Manfred, MLBPA chief Michael Weiner and test collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. As for his teammates, Braun said, “One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.”
In the weeks since his suspension, Braun had been criticized by players, managers and fans. While not alone in his guilt, his denials attacked many of the people in and around the drug program.
“I understand it’s a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level,” Braun said. “I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from my teammates, fans and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again. … Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.”
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