What If Braun Were Guilty? | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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What If Braun Were Guilty?

By on February 27, 2012

We need to get something out of the way right up front. If you’re a person who doesn’t even want to consider the possibility that Ryan Braun could have knowingly taken something on the banned substances list, then this piece isn’t going to be for you. That’s perfectly OK. There is plenty of evidence to support the notion that Braun didn’t escape punishment on what the media is calling a “technicality” or a “loophole.” I, for one, would love to find out more about these things, and I think it’s the height of irresponsibility for media members to simply say “Braun did it, but got lucky that the collector didn’t follow procedure, invalidating what would have otherwise been a positive test.” There simply isn’t close to enough information made public at this point to draw that sort of iron clad conclusion in the case.

That being said, I don’t think we can completely dismiss the possibility that Braun did do something against the rules. It’s not a particularly popular stance to take in Brewer fandom these days, but again, I don’t think we have enough evidence to completely rule out the notion. As a fan, I hope that day does come, and as soon as possible. Since we’re not there yet, though, it seems worth looking at the possibility that he used something and try to figure out just what that would mean.

From the beginning of this whole saga, there were things about it that simply didn’t add up about Braun’s supposed guilt. Namely, why did he test positive when he did? We know that Braun, like other players, has been tested repeatedly. In the press conference, he said at least 25 times in his career and 3 times this year he was tested, and came through cleanly. There is no reason to doubt this, as MLB never contradicted it, while arguing with many other points. Thus, it seems, we’re left with basically a continuum of possibilities that explain this outcome, again, assuming he’s guilty. On one end, we have to suppose for argument’s sake that Braun is a habitual user of whatever caused the elevated testosterone levels to be present in his body, but has been able to avoid detection one way or another for years. On the other end of the spectrum, this was an isolated incident, he took something once and just happened to get caught. There are, of course, many points along that line from “almost all the time” to “almost never” but if he used, the truth is on that line somewhere.

If the truth is closer to “isolated incident” then, it would seem, trying to figure out just why this happened when it did would be key to understanding the situation. Why would a player who has a long term contract, a large personal fan base that elected him to start the last four all star games and an otherwise clean reputation risk having all of that tarnished in the eyes of the public? Could it have been an effort to recover from the calf injury that plagued him mid season? Would taking what he tested positive for even help that effort? What else could it have been that would cause an otherwise clean player to risk his whole reputation for some sort of brief extra edge? Would this reason make the rest of the baseball world look at Braun differently than if he was using all the time? This avenue really raises more questions that answers.

Moving to the darker side of the street, we have the possibility that Braun habitually used whatever it was that caused this positive test but has avoided detection until this incident. As unlikely as that possibility seems, we at least have to entertain it for the purposes of this exercise. If it’s the case, then obviously a lot of people were fooled for a long time by Braun. He put on a show for people, while keeping this secret buried. As many questions as this would raise about Braun personally, it would raise even more about the whole testing system. Is it possible this one rouge player found the secret to evading a positive test for years while others all either followed the rules or were caught for stepping out of line? That seems almost impossible to believe. Rather, if Braun was a habitual user, it would seem to indicate that the whole testing system is “fatally flawed” and there are likely many other players guilty of similar indiscretions as well. We know the incentive to cheat is there and we know players in the past took things in an effort to improve. If it was so easy to do without getting caught, it’s hard to fathom Braun was alone in his use. Thus, the more Braun supposedly used while avoiding detection for so long, the more likely it becomes others have been doing the same.

As I said up front, this all presupposes guilt of actually doing something against the rules, and I don’t think that we’re anywhere close to actually knowing that is the case. If it is true, though, it seems clear that the more isolated Braun’s use was, the more likely it is that the testing system itself is working and rampant cheating is dead. In this hypothesis, Braun would have taken something for some specific reasons,  gotten unlucky and ultimately, caught. That would make him not a habitual cheater, but rather guilty of some sort of lapse in judgement. The more one thinks he potentially used, moving down the the other end the spectrum, then the more flawed the testing system essentially must be, and thus the easier it would be to do. The easier it is to do, the more likely it is that other players were and continue to do the same. That sort of situation would cast a shadow over the whole game, not just Braun. Just don’t try telling this to any fan of another team this summer as they lustily boo, hold up signs and otherwise look down their nose at Braun and the fans that cheer for him. They’re not going to want to entertain the possibility one of their best players might have used than Brewers fans have.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Truth be told says: February 27, 2012

    One aspect of this that isn’t being raised, but is hugely significant to the case, IMO, is what happened to the samples of the two Brewers players who were tested alongside Ryan Braun?

    Were they handled the same way, and what results of their tests? One unconfirmed report said that they too showed elevated T:E ratios, but not so elevated that they triggered a failed test.

    If true, that doesn’t prove anything one way or the other of course, but would narrow the probabilities down to 2 :

    1) The results of the tests were altered by the way the samples were handled on the way to the lab – thereby invalidating the test result, or :

    2) The entire Brewers squad (I’m not buying that just 3 of them did this because the odds against those 3 “just happening” to be the same 3 randomly selected for testing are over 500 to 1 against) were given something by the Brewers medical staff to “legally” boost their testosterone levels, but for whatever reason it had a much greater impact on Braun’s test result than the others.

    Curiouser and curiouser………

    • Ryan Topp says: February 27, 2012

      Well, there are some other possibilities in there…but the overall point is that guilty or innocent, there are plenty of things that still don’t make sense about the whole situation. That’s why it’s even more important to reserve judgement and talk about possibilities instead of certainties.

  2. Matt Tracy says: February 27, 2012

    What I find puzzling are the actual results and what that says about someone trying to cheat. We assume that whatever was ingested was done so purposefully, meaning Braun was attempting to gain an edge and thought long and hard about how to cheat. But then we would have to assume that getting caught was a mistake. If all this is true, Braun apparently was smart enough to know how to cheat, and then did so in such a sloppy fashion, that he was easily caught. (i.e. 20:1 showing, as opposed to monitoring your levels to get as close to 4:1 without going over).

    The metaphor here is of a bank robber who pulled off a brilliantly clean heist, but then started spending $500 bills all over town.

  3. Bill says: February 27, 2012

    At one point, the thought had crossed my mind that maybe he did do something to try and gain an edge. The only reason I thought of why he might take a chance with something like this had to do with the timing of when the test was taken. Maybe…just maybe…he took something to improve his focus for the playoffs. With the pressure the team was under last year to win it all in Prince’s last season, maybe he had a lapse of judgement and thought he wouldn’t get caught. Now, I dont know how long this stuff can be detected in your system, but it is possible that he took something for the playoffs thinking he wouldnt get caught.

    At this point however, I do not believe he did it intentionally. I understand that we know very, VERY, few facts about what actually happend, but with what we do know and how Braun is conducting his business, I do believe he is innocent. Unfortunatly though, the “but what if” question will always be there.

  4. Matt Tracy says: February 27, 2012

    Another thought in the “Braun Is Guilty” theme. He could easily have screwed up and accidentally taken something he didn’t know would cause him to pop hot. He may have realized it after testing positive. But why not try and appeal first? After he’s won, no one could expect him to then admit his mistake. What’s to prevent MLB from going right back to suspending him? As far as I know, there is no double jeopardy protection here.

    If he admitted it after winning the appeal and the suspension was reinstated, he’d be the worst teammate ever.

  5. Nicholas Zettel says: February 28, 2012

    “The more one thinks he potentially used, moving down the the other end the spectrum, then the more flawed the testing system essentially must be, and thus the easier it would be to do. The easier it is to do, the more likely it is that other players were and continue to do the same. That sort of situation would cast a shadow over the whole game, not just Braun.”

    I love this argument. I think you’re dead on for talking about this, few others discussing Braun’s guilt mention this (and they certainly don’t mention how he managed to pass more than 20 tests, including 3 last year).

    I do generally agree that if one player learns he can mask his drugs and pass the tests, then a lot of players will be doing the same thing.

    BTW, what do you think will surface once blood testing starts?

  6. Phil says: February 28, 2012

    I think there are other questions that can be answered though. In his statement, Braun said his weight did not change, his speed was the same, and his strength was the same. Further said the Brewers have these records to prove it. Assuming he was not an habitual user for reasons stated in the article, how likely is it that someone who took once or twice would not have any changes to their body? I have been shocked no media outlet has a) requested these records from Braun (I doubt the Brewers can release them without Braun’s permission) to verify his statement and b) no one checked if what he said is true about PEDs, I.e. taking any PEDs would cause measurable physiological changes. Now, since Braun won, he certainly has no incentive to release his records. But, in my opinion, that was the strongest part of his claim to innocence and one that has the potential to be proven true or false.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: February 28, 2012

      This is a strong argument.

      For what it’s worth, there are sources and studies that suggest that PEDs wouldn’t necessarily improve baseball performance, so I’m not sure what the running 1st to 3rd times indicate. Furthermore, isn’t it possible for athletes to take PEDs without the goal of adding weight? What if you simply want PEDs to recover from the grind of 162 and stay out on the field?

      These are general questions for all ballplayers, obviously, and not just Braun or any Brewers.

  7. Poonix says: February 28, 2012

    Accident doesn’t matter, if he accidentally took some tainted supplements it’s his fault per the MLBPA agreement. So lets stop trying to soften the stance on the idea that it’s a mistake, he’s some how some innocent who didn’t understand the risk of taking non-FDA regulated supplements. Beyond a doctors prescription with a waiver, how it got into his system is irrelevant. If it’s found in his system, the only one to blame is himself.

    I think he did it. Based upon all the evidence that we have, currently (That is to say it might not change due to now facts being exposed), there has yet to be a real explanation on why synthetic T (Not organic aka not naturally in the body) was found in his system. The only two possible explanations to me are tampering (Lab/Piss sampler) or he did it. Since the sample didn’t appear to be tampered with, and I don’t wear a tinfoil hat, the only likely outcome to me is that he did it. Occums razor tells us so.

    I can buy the argument that he shouldn’t have had the follow up test if the sample was treated better, aka the T/E primary test would have been normal and given the gold star. But it still doesn’t explain to me why he was found to have synthetic T in his system with out some kind of mistrust of science. If it’s good enough to take down cyclists, olympic athletes etc, why are we all of a sudden pretending that its not good enough against our guy.

    If the test is fundamentally flawed, then any suspension due to this test finding should be thrown out, and the MLB Drug Testing program needs to be disassembled as it’s completely ineffective and irrelevant.

    • Matt Tracy says: February 28, 2012

      The only caveate I would make here, regarding your first statement (accident doesn’t matter) is that the same should be true for MLB and they should be acting different. As Braun mentioned: if players are held to 100% accountability, then MLB and their testing should too. Players don’t say “boo” when the system slaps them for an inhaler they forgot to mention; MLB shouldn’t get to say anything when their testing protocol is fouled up by a mistake as well (the mistake being the guy holding the sample for 44 hours).

      • Poonix says: February 28, 2012

        Sure, and the arbitration results were the right one. They messed up the protocol and invalidated the test. But that doesn’t really answer the question if he did it or not. It just answers the question if MLB can apply sanctions.

        Makes me wonder if someone leaked this on purpose since they knew that COC was broken and Braun was going to get away with it. The results were invalidated and they want to exposed the truth.

  8. Truth be told says: February 28, 2012

    “But it still doesn’t explain to me why he was found to have synthetic T in his system with out some kind of mistrust of science.”

    If you’re looking for some kind of mistrust of science, you can find it here :

    http://www.tomsarazac.com/tom/opinions/testosterone_d13C.html

    And here :

    http://www.tomsarazac.com/tom/opinions/testosterone_again.html

    I’m still trying to get my head around it all, but it would appear that the CIR test, thought to be the gold standard for distinguishing between natural and synthetic testosterone, is somewhat less definitive than the authorities would have you believe.

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