December 10, 2011
Say it ain't so, Ryan!
Baseball was hit with some bombshell news Saturday night, as ESPN is reporting that National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and faces a 50-game suspension.
According to steroid investigative hounds Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn, the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder had to submit a urine sample to be tested during the playoffs. Braun was informed of the positive result in late October.
As could be expected, Braun is maintaining his innocence and disputing the test results through arbitration. Because of this, MLB has not officially announced the positive test.
"There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program," said a spokesman for Braun in a statement.
"While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated."
Braun told USA Today's Bob Nightengale that the test result was "B.S."
The "Outside the Lines" report goes on to clarify that elevated levels of testosterone in Braun's sample are what triggered the positive test. Further tests showed that the testosterone was synthetic. In other words, Braun's body did not produce it naturally.
MLB went on to consult the World Anti-Doping Agency lab for a second opinion to confirm the results. The WADA conducted a secondary test to see whether the increase in testosterone could have been produced by Braun himself or if it came from a secondary source.
The test confirmed MLB's original results. The extra testosterone came from outside Braun's body.
Braun has told others that he didn't knowingly take any banned substances, according to ESPN. But no suspended major league player has ever appealed a positive test successfully. Claiming no knowledge of a performance enhancing substance in a dietary supplement would not be a sufficient defense.
This past season, Braun hit .332/.397/597 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI to lead the Brewers to an NL Central division title. He received 20 out of 32 first-place votes in NL MVP balloting to win the award over Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Back in April, the Brewers signed Braun to a five-year, $105 million contract extension that retains him through the 2020 season.
Previous MVPs have either tested positive for performance enhancers or were strongly suspected of steroid use. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi each have that stain on their record. But neither of them were flagged while they won the award. Obviously, Braun is hoping to clean such marks off his record.