The veteran collector of doping programs across sports who for two days held the sample of star outfielder Ryan Braun's urine "acted in a professional and appropriate manner," Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred said in a statement Friday night.
Dino Laurenzi, who four sources said was the collector, has collected specimens for MLB since 2005 as well as the NFL and NHL through his job with Comprehensive Drug Testing. Though he never mentioned Laurenzi's name, Braun impugned him during a news conference Friday from the Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility during which he spoke for the first time since an arbitration panel overturned his positive test for synthetic testosterone.
“The extremely experienced collector in Mr. Braun’s case acted in a professional and appropriate manner," Manfred said in the statement. "He handled Mr. Braun’s sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency. The Arbitrator found that those instructions were not consistent with certain language in our program, even though the instructions were identical to those used by many other drug programs – including the other professional sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency."
Laurenzi placed a box of specimens, including Braun's, inside a cooler in his basement when the FedEx location he stopped at no longer was shipping packages after Game 1 of the National League Division Series, according to sources. The package sat in his basement between Saturday and Monday, before it was shipped to the laboratory in Montreal that runs tests for MLB.
"I honestly don't know what happened to it for that 44-hour period," Braun said.
When the lab ran the tests on Braun's urine specimen, it did not find microbial degradation – bacteria growth – that would have tainted the sample, according to two sources. The seals on the samples remained intact, sources said.
Braun's attorneys and the MLBPA won the first arbitration appeal in the program's history by arguing that a break in the sample's chain of custody – the protocol on how to handle specimens when FedEx no longer shipping wasn't spelled out clearly – rendered the test invalid.
Laurenzi, who lives in Wisconsin and works as an athletic trainer, did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
MLB protested the decision when it was rendered Thursday, with Manfred saying the league "vehemently" disagreed with the decision made by arbitrator Shyam Das. Braun called baseball's drug-testing program "fatally flawed" Friday.
Das is required to submit a full report to MLB and the union within 30 days. It will not be made public.
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