Ryan Braun gave a press conference at noon today, easily his most detailed and far-reaching statement on his successful appeal. I want to emphasize that Braun spent a good part of the conference thanking everyone who backed him up, but I was focusing more on any new information revealed by the conference.
Braun only mentioned litigation once, but he did indeed mention it. Given the context, I would assume he is at least considering action against the sample courier, the courier’s direct employer, and perhaps Major League Baseball itself. I doubt he can muster up a defamation charge, but it’s pretty clear that someone in the process was at least arguably negligent.
I’m not sure if this is entirely new information, but I found the fact that Braun learned of the test on October 19 surprising, and a bit sad.
This means that Braun played playoff games under the weight of a positive test he seems to think is complete bunk. (Edit: I thought he mentioned hearing of the results after a playoff game, got a bit mixed up. Apologies.) Luckily, the results didn’t leak sooner, but the fact that they leaked at all is a pretty clear breach of confidentiality.
Here’s my partial transcription. Forgive my paraphrasing, or any omissions or inaccuracies; I don’t do this kind of thing regularly:
[Braun started off the conference by thanking his teammates, the Brewers organization, the fans who stuck with him and believed him, and athletes outside of baseball who had his back. I didn’t get a very good transcription of this part.]
You know, as I’ve previously stated, this is without a doubt the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life, and it made it even more challenging that I had to face it publicly.
I tried to respect the process, even though the confidentiality was breached early on.
If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I would be the first to step up and say, “I did it.” I truly believe with my life and my heart that this substance never entered my body at any point in my life.
The reason I can’t go into more detail is in the best interest of the game not the best interest of myself. There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the whole story, but I recognized what was best for baseball.
I have always stood up for what is right. Today is about everyone who’s ever been wrongly accused. Today is about all other players, all future players, and anyone who’s ever played the game of baseball.
There’s never been a personal medical issue, I’ve never had an STD. Many of the erroneous stories reported by the media continue to live on.
We won because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and in the end the truth prevailed. I am a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed. Everyone who participates in this process should be held to the same standard.
With what’s at stake, this is my livelihood, this is my integrity, this is my character, we need to make sure we get it one hundred percent right.
The system as applied to me in this case was fatally flawed.
I was made aware of the positive test result on October 19, at which point I had a conversation with the players’ association. I told them I would be an open book, I opened up my life to them. I told them I would be willing to take any and every test to prove that I did not do this. At the point that I told the players’ association about the test, they told me that the result was three times higher than any player in the history of the organization. This made me question the validity of the result. At that point, I was able to prove to them that contemporaneously I literally did not gain a single pound, did not get one tenth of a second faster, did not get one percent stronger, didn’t work out more often, no additional core strength. If anything had changed, I wouldn’t be able to go back and pretend like it did change.
I told them, I’ve been tested twenty five times over the course of my career. I’ve never had any issue, there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise. They explained to me the way the process works, and that the burden of proof falls on me to show what went wrong during the process.
It states in the agreement that all samples should be taken directly to Fed Ex except in unusual circumstances. I delivered my sample along with two players at 4:30 PM. There were two FedExes open at the time, and a nearby FedEx that was open twenty four hours. When we provide our samples, there’s a number no longer a name associated with the sample; that way there can’t be any bias. For players, confidentiality is important.
Why he didn’t bring it in, I don’t know. Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to the sample during that twenty four hour period?
Imagine you are diagnosed with a disease, and you feel perfectly fine. You provide a sample, the doctor takes it home and leaves it in his car. I guarantee you would demand a retest.
Everything is supposed to be documented in this process. The model of the refrigerator, the time the sample is moved.
We spoke to biochemists and scientists and asked them how difficult it would be to tamper with a sample. They said if someone was motivated, it would be extremely easy.
How do you explain such a high reading?
The only honest answer I can give you is that I’m one hundred percent certain the substance never answered my body. As to what happened during that forty eight hour period, your guess is as good as mine.
What’s your response to MLB’s statement?
I respect their opinion. I think it’s disappointing and a little sad that this has become a PR battle. But again, I certainly respect their decision and their opinion.
Who was the collector and was he employed by the team?
Because of ongoing litigation, I’m not allowed to go into that. [Please verify! Anyone else sure he said ‘litigation’?
Because this was supposed to be confidential, what have you done to investigate, what are you doing?
Do we have some idea how this occurred, yes, but we don’t know with any certainty.
I’ve lived this nightmare every day for the last four months. Ultimately, the sample was missing for a long period of time, and we don’t know what happened during that time.
Can you tell us more detail about your successful appeal?
I’m not going to pretend like this is going to go away. I found out yesterday, sometime in the middle of the day yesterday.
How difficult do you think it will be to get your squeaky clean image and good name back? Can you?
I certainly hope so. I recognize it’s going to be a challenge. Again, as players we’re held to a standard of 100% compliance, so everyone should be held to that standard.
You referred to this as a nightmare, can you shed some light on what it’s like to be a public professional athlete and go through this?
I’ve always taken pride in my image and being a role model, and all of that’s been called into question by this situation. It’s difficult to prove you’re innocent in a system where you’re guilty until proven innocent.
Do you feel like you were robbed of your opportunity to enjoy your MVP, how did this motivate you?
I was very motivated by this. There are a lot of haters, a lot of people who doubted me and continue to doubt me.
How is the system flawed and in what way should it be corrected?
In the way that it was applied to me, the system was fatally flawed. I can’t speak on how it’s applied to anyone else. Whether there are changes to be made or not, that remains to be seen, but I think it’s a distinct possibility.
You’re going to be there for 50 games now, will that help the Brewers’ chances?
I certainly hope it will help our chances!
There are a lot of things we heard about the collection process, the collector… but I know what it’s like to be wrongly accused of something, so I don’t want to wrongly accuse someone else of something.
What are your thoughts on MLB’s statement?
The players agreed to this system, Major League Baseball agreed to this system, the union agreed to this system, so I respect their opinion but disagree.
The simple truth is that I’m innocent, I maintained my innocence from day one, and ultimately I was proven to be innocent.