Ryan Braun will not serve a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy.
News broke on Thursday evening that Braun won his appeal, via a 2-1 decision, yet that has not stopped an extremely vocal segment of baseball fans from maintaining his guilt. According to them, Braun weaseled around the spirit of the policy and was exonerated based upon a technicality because the positive test was never disputed. It was never proven that the results that discovered synthetic testosterone in his sytem were faulty. Thus, he should still be viewed as guilty in the public consciousness.
Nevermind the policies and procedures put in place by Major League Baseball to ensure the validity of their testing. Those are just inconvenient speed bumps in the race to assume guilt in some vein attempt to preserve the purity of the game of baseball that was never “pure” or “clean” to begin with.
Multiple media outlets, including ESPN, are reporting that the key detail in the case was the fact that the courier — who was to deliver the sample to FedEx and ship the sample to the testing facilities — mistakenly thought FedEx was closed on Saturday evening. The courier then brought the sample home and refrigerated it until Monday, when it was then shipped to the testing facility.
The procedures state that the sample must be shipped as soon as possible. This is to maintain the integrity of the sample and to ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.
Correct procedures were not followed. The sample sat for two days, and when it did so, the subsequent results were questioned. The results may have not been incorrect. Ryan Braun may have taken performance-enhancing drugs. However, we don’t know for certain because the procedures and protocols exist for a reason. They exist to remove that doubt.
We are all now left with a distinct feeling of uncertainty. Was the test accurate, or was it not accurate? We don’t know. You don’t know. I certainly don’t know, and when doubt exists, it is unfair to proclaim unequivocal guilt.
That is exactly what the arbitrator Shyam Das did when he exonerated Ryan Braun. He did not place a stamp of innocence on the Brewers’ superstar. His ruling said that the arbitrators were unsure as to whether the breach of protocol skewed the results. His ruling essentially said that he didn’t know.
And you don’t ruin a player’s career and reputation if you don’t know.
The fact that significant disagreements continue to be bandied about amongst the baseball community tell us one thing: The Ryan Braun story will not be disappearing anytime soon.
Discussions surrounding whether he is “clean” or “dirty” will continue, and if Braun remains one of the premier players in the league for the foreseeable future, the discussions will reach another level of intensity once possible consideration for the Hall of Fame enters the equation.
If Jeff Bagwell cannot garner enough votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame because it is the unverified opinion of some baseball writers that he took steroids, can you imagine the rhetoric regarding Ryan Braun?
And to think, this remains a story that should have never come to the forefront. Positive tests are not supposed to be announced until an appeal has been filed and overruled. If the appeal wins, the story is supposed to fade into the sunset, never to reach the eyeballs or ears of the public.
Because Ryan Braun won his appeal, this story should have never reached the media. I should not know about this. You should not know about this. Public opinion should have never been swayed. Ryan Braun should not have to had to carry this baggage that will now forever be on his shoulders.
For that, Major League Baseball should be ashamed. Whichever person leaked the story to ESPN sullied the reputation of one of the league’s brightest stars and subjugated him to a myriad of unnecessary questions and presumptions of his character. It’s just an unfortunate story, no matter which way you look at it.
Ryan Braun is one of the best players to ever don a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. He won the first MVP for the franchise since Robin Yount did it 1989. He helped end a 26-year postseason drought in Milwaukee. He led the organization to its first division pennant since 1982. And instead of celebrating those career achievements, he will instead have to deal with nothing but clouds of doubt and suspicion.
That’s not fair, but then again, nothing about the way this story was treated by baseball as a whole was fair.