Suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun told players around baseball before spring training 2012 that the man who collected his urine that tested positive for synthetic testosterone was anti-Semitic and a Chicago Cubs fan in an effort to gather support throughout the game, sources familiar with the matter told Yahoo! Sports.
ESPN.com first reported that Braun had reached out to fellow players. While Yahoo! Sports previously reported Braun had contacted Joey Votto and Troy Tulowitzki, on Monday they denied having any conversations with Braun about test collector Dino Laurenzi Jr.
A number of players with whom Braun spoke, including Brewers teammates, believed the allegations. A source close to Laurenzi said the anti-Semitism allegation is untrue; his fan allegiance is unclear. It added to the backlash against Braun – whose father is Jewish but was not raised in the religion – inside the Milwaukee clubhouse as well as outside following his recent 65-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, with whom Braun spoke before spring training, told reporters people in the game felt “betrayed” and that he was “disappointed.”
During spring 2012, Braun avoided a 50-game suspension by winning his appeal on a chain-of-custody error due to faulty protocol in Major League Baseball's drug-testing program. In a news conference upon his arrival at spring training – one he invited non-Brewers players to, though they declined to attend – Braun impugned the league's testing policy and called the collector "very suspicious."
Earlier in the day, a member of Braun's camp had leaked Laurenzi's name in an email to Yahoo! Sports. Laurenzi had kept the sample of Braun's urine stored in his house because there was no FedEx store within a reasonable distance that would ship the sample according to MLB's rules. Braun's lawyers argued successfully that this broke the chain of custody, even though the lab that tested the sample said it had not degraded and was valid.
Upon Braun's suspension less than a month ago for doing business with Biogenesis, which provided PEDs to more than a dozen major league players, a number of major leaguers publicly censured Braun and made calls for stiffer penalties for drug use.
Reports over the weekend indicated Braun has started apologizing to those he lied to and plans on coming clean publicly about his drug use. It is unclear whether he has spoken with Laurenzi.
Braun was sued this week by a former friend named Ralph Sasson, who alleges Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, paid him $5,000 to dig up information on Laurenzi. Sasson also said Braun used PEDs throughout his career at the University of Miami.