Ryan Braun stood alone at a microphone at Milwaukee Brewers spring training camp in Arizona and told Major League Baseball — in defiant but polite terms — what it could do with its drug testing program.
Calling the process "fatally flawed" and having characteristics "opposite of the American judicial system," Braun breathed a public sigh of relief, not only because he won't be suspended for 50 games for testing positive for elevated testosterone, but also because his reputation, he believes, has been restored.
"We won because the truth is on my side," Braun said as teammates listened from the stands at the Brewers facility in Phoenix.
The truth is, Braun won because he had the very best legal advice possible, and there's nothing wrong with that — if you can afford it. Per the Associated Press:
Braun detailed how the urine sample he provided on Oct. 1, the day the Brewers opened the playoffs, was not delivered to Federal Express until Oct. 3. Baseball's drug agreement calls for samples to be delivered to FedEx on the same day they are collected.
And so, on Thursday night, the arbitrator with a Jedi's name — Shyam Das — ruled in Braun's favor. It's the first time an appeal of this nature at the major-league level has been sustained. And it's pretty simple as to why. No mind tricks were necessary. Perhaps Braun's legal team could have fought the suspension in other ways, but they didn't need to. Braun had MLB dead to rights on the rules.
No matter what the sample collector did with Braun's urine — even if he kept it safe in a special urine-only refrigerator with deadbolt locks and a pee guard dog — it doesn't matter. The rules say he had to express the sample to the testing facility on the same day, and he didn't.
MLB is said to be furious with the ruling — worrying that it puts its entire drug testing program at risk — and is looking into a lawsuit to get Das' ruling set aside or overturned. But if the 48-hour lag time "doesn't matter," then why is it in the agreement that samples must be rushed to the testers in Montreal? Based on its track record in court when it comes to arbitrators rulings, MLB is bound to lose this fight. They might want to, instead, read this part of Braun's statement:
"We're part of a process where you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent — it's the opposite of the American judicial system. If we're held to that standard, it's only fair that everybody else is held to that exact same standard.
"With what's at stake — this is my livelihood, this is my integrity, this is my character — this is everything in my life being called into question. We need to make sure that we get it right. If you're going to be in a position where you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent, you can't mess up. And today is about making sure that this doesn't happen to anybody else who has played this game."
Amen. Two or three mens, in fact. Braun also pointed his finger at news media to whom sources inside MLB leaked information that turned public what was supposed to be confidential and private matter.
"Despite the fact there have been many inaccurate, erroneous and completely fabricated stories regarding this issue, I've maintained the confidentiality of this process," Braun said. "There's never been a 'personal medical issue,' I've never had an STD [and] many of the original stories reported by the original network have continued to live on and it's sad that people continue to leak information that's inaccurate."
This part is not up to ESPN to fix. MLB needs to tighten its security, and its own lips, or else this will happen again.
Braun might or might not be innocent. But being not guilty is all he needs to play, and there's no good reason to not enjoy him do so. Unless you're a Cubs fan. Here's Braun's statement in its entirety:
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