Statement From Braun’s “Collector” Only Raises More Questions | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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The sample collector in the Curious Case of Ryan Braun’s Urine released a lengthy statement Tuesday, telling his side of the story. After getting into his background and credentials, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. detailed the events of October 1-3, including the FedEx fiasco that highlighted Braun’s press conference last week.

From Laurenzi’s statement:

“I completed my collections at Miller Park at approximately 5:00 p.m. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections, there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday.

“Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, CDT has instructed collectors since I began in 2005 that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office. The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident.”

In his press conference last Friday, Braun noted that there were a couple FedEx locations that were still open — including a 24-hour location — and implied that Laurenzi should have still left the sample at FedEx, even if it was too late to ship until Monday.

Braun is right in noting there were several locations still open for dropoffs by the time Laurenzi left the park, even if last pickup had already occurred. Laurenzi is right in noting that it was too late to ship the sample that day. Contrary to what some may be saying, nobody is refuting anybody here — they’re more or less saying two separate things in awfully similar ways.

At the very least, Laurenzi’s statement helps answer some questions as to what happened (at least according to him) between the time Braun peed in a cup and the time it was dropped off at FedEx. However, we’re also left with a boatload of questions we didn’t have before.

Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement says that unless there are “unusual circumstances,” the samples need to be left at FedEx for shipment on the same day they’re collected. What are the “unusual circumstances” that allow a collector to take a sample home instead of FedEx? Laurenzi says he’s done this multiple times before, so it doesn’t seem like “I didn’t think FedEx was open” is an “unusual circumstance.” Shyam Das apparently agreed.

The JDA does say a collector is allowed to bring samples home, as long as the chain of custody is not broken and the samples are stored in a “cool and secure location.” Again, vagueness leaves a pretty vast gray area here. What’s considered “cool?” What’s considered “secure?” These are key definitions left up to interpretation.

Laurenzi says he stored the samples in a Rubbermaid container in his office, which he calls “sufficiently cool.” Who made the ruling that the room was “sufficiently cool,” since the JDA doesn’t mention a specific temperature threshold? At what temperature was the office kept? Reason says it has to be somewhere below room temperature, otherwise he might as well have left the sample on his kitchen counter. Was there anything with the samples in the container to help keep them cool?  It appears the temperature at which the sample is stored does matter, though, since the JDA does explicitly state that collectors are not allowed to leave the samples in a car. Why else would that very specific provision be included in an otherwise absurdly vague document? At what temperature does a sample start to degrade?

Braun claimed that his sample wasn’t shipped until the early afternoon on Monday, which is a point Laurenzi didn’t refute in his carefully-crafted statement. Why didn’t Laurenzi take the sample in first thing in the morning? Where was it while he was presumably at his day job?

There are more questions that could be asked of the testing system itself, not just Laurenzi. He said he held onto the samples since it was past 5 p.m., when FedEx makes their last pickup of the day on Saturdays. If you look up the latest pickup times on weekdays, it’s somewhere between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. at many locations in the Milwaukee area. Most nights, that would make it impossible for a collector to take a sample post-game and take it in for immediate shipping. What has Laurenzi done in those cases — taken the samples home like he did with the Braun sample, or left it in FedEx’s hands anyway to be shipped the next morning?

If it’s possible to test pre-game to ensure the test is completed and shipped out the same day, why couldn’t that have been done on October 1? Essentially, why schedule a test for a date/time that would make it impossible to have the sample shipped in a timely manner? Why leave the possibility open to having a sample in the collector’s hands for close to two extra days?

All of these questions aren’t meant as an attempt to discredit Laurenzi’s statement, take Braun’s side, or anything else of the sort. They just show that there’s still a lot we don’t know about this case (and honestly, probably never will know). There are enough questions to be asked of Laurenzi — not just Braun — that we still cannot definitively say one way or another if Ryan Braun is “innocent” or “got away with something.”

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. @THEKID_ says: February 29, 2012

    The only way this whole thing is put to rest is if Braun puts up MVP-type numbers again in 2012 while passing any drug tests he’s submitted to.

    • Tim Schaefer says: February 29, 2012

      That’s certainly the only way some people will be satisfied, yes. Others will probably never be satisfied, no matter what he does on the field.

  2. Nicholas Zettel says: February 29, 2012

    I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve read comments elsewhere that suggest that FedEx has different shipping times for clinical samples. That may or may not be true, btu I thought I’d post the statement here to see if anyone knows its truth.

    If last pick-up for FedEx is on 5, is anyone else wondering why on earth MLB is testing players on Saturday afternoons? That just seems DUMB! Given how samples that reportedly degrade if they’re not tested ASAP and not stored in clinical environments, it seems absurd to me that an organization would place something as severe as a 50-game suspension (without pay) on the fate of a late Saturday test that might miss last pick-up.

    BTW, the thing that still irks me about these statements is the “tampering” refutation. MLB needs to stop this, and so does the collector — I don’t think ANYONE involved is saying the sample was tampered; they’re saying it was compromised because of how it was stored.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: February 29, 2012

      (BTW, sorry Jaymes, I guess I felt it necessary to exactly repeat your question. Needless to say, I think you’re 100% correct).

    • SecondHandStore says: February 29, 2012

      I agree that the argument about tampering needs to be dropped. Especially if this all ends up being like the Diane Modahl case, however unfortunately that’s sort of Ryan Braun’s fault. He alluded to the possibility of tampering in his press release, especially the part where he mentions asking experts how hard it would be to tamper and they said ‘extremely easy’. So yeah, I don’t think tampering was involved, no one who is sufficiently informed on the matter does either, but the average public hears the collector saying he didn’t tamper with it and now they think Ryan Braun doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It was probably the only mistake Braun made during this whole ordeal, but if I was innocent and I truly didn’t know how my sample tested positive and then I saw that 44 hour period of uncertainty I would question the possibility of tampering as well.

      • Nicholas Zettel says: February 29, 2012

        I think you’re right that Braun shouldn’t have said anything about tampering.

  3. joe5348 says: February 29, 2012

    As I understand it, testosterone stays in a person’s system for 90 days. Braun immediately retested himself on about October 19 when he was told about the positive test. He also says that he was tested three prior times in 2011. Assuming one of those tests was after July 20, when does MLB suggest that he took the synthetic testosterone?

    • John says: March 5, 2012

      Your understanding about testosterone is wrong.

  4. Matt Tracy says: February 29, 2012

    I agree with the assertion that “if the game is timed to prevent sample shipping, a sample should not be take.” One could argue though, that it would give players a “safe zone” to know exactly when samples can or cannot be taken. But to this I would say that MLB simply has to shell out a few more dollars for courier services that have no pick-up restrictions.

    Bottom line: if the sample is going to happen, MLB should ensure that it happens at a time and place that allows for it to be tested ASAP, which was not the case here.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: February 29, 2012

      Exactly right!

  5. SecondHandStore says: February 29, 2012

    One thing I would like to add: Everyone keeps saying that storing the sample at the collector’s house is accepted/standard protocol in certain situations, there-by implying that doing so is okay. NO! Common sense should tell you that should be amended for like, a thousand reasons not the least of which is: Gross! There should be a specifically explained plan-b that does not include storage in a private home. Come on people! Also, since this is a scientific process, ‘a sufficiently cool place’ should be clearly specified. Is that not also common sense? I’d be willing to bet they have protocols at labs for storing samples at precise degrees. Sorry MLB Drug Prevention plan, you have to do better.

  6. Philboyd says: February 29, 2012

    If the rules as set out in the collective bargaining agreement weren’t followed then Braun shouldn’t be subjected to suspension. It seems akin to when the police collect evidence in violation of the 4th amendment.
    But isn’t that all a separate issue from whether or not Braun used a banned substance? And isn’t that a question that depends upon a) whether or not the sample was tampered with – which I haven’t heard anyone claim (other than Braun’s apparently ill-advised implication at the press conference impugning the collector’s integrity) or b) science – i.e. can improper storage or delay cause the result?

  7. Rob says: February 29, 2012

    I’m just wondering why the major sports media outlets are treating the collector’s statements as “news”. What did they think he was going to say? Especially since he has MLB’s backing and the majority of writers and fans seem to be vilifying Braun to varying degrees.

  8. Julie says: February 29, 2012

    I’m a nurse and I worked in a clinic for years and years. Urine was stored in a refrigerator, that had the temp checked everyday, if it couldn’t be tested right away. If it was left out overnight, even just one night, it was considered unreliable due to the bacterial overgrowth that would occur. My basement is cool, maybe 65 degrees? Maybe 60? Not nearly as cool as actual refrigeration. I can’t imagine the collectors basement was a cool 45 degrees, especially since this was early October and the weather was warm.

    • Philboyd says: March 1, 2012

      Good point. But synthetic testosterone doesn’t grow like bacteria. It doesn’t grow at all because it’s synthetic.


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