Sunday, December 11, 2011

Braun Tests Positive ...

Just when things appeared to be settling down, we learn that Milwaukee's Ryan Braun has tested positive for a PED (testosterone). We're a long way from getting to the bottom of this, but Braun's spokesman has already put out a statement - not so much denying the results of the test, but denying the credibility of the test. We do know that Braun gave a positive result in October, and a positive result to a more comprehensive test not long after.

Braun's camp isn't just going with the "I didn't know what it was" camp, but is going with the stronger "I couldn't have known what it was" camp. This is going to be a slog for Braun, as the testosterone found was determined - through the comprehensive test - to be synthetic, meaning the body could not have created it.

In the immediate future, Braun is facing an automatic 50-game suspension. He does have a collectively bargained right to appeal. That ppeal will be heard by an arbitration panel, which will review the Commissioner Selig's "just cause" determination (to suspend), and could possibly overturn the suspension if Braun can prove that his "test result was not due to his fault or negligence." This is, for the lawyer-types, different than the NFL's strict liability policy - and theoretically more favorable for Braun.

Now, Braun can't merely deny that he intentionally used a banned substance, he must provide "objective evidence in support of his denial ... question[ing] the accuracy or reliabilty of the 'positive' test result." Whether he's able to do this or not, who knows, it's still early. A lot has to happen before any of this really matters.

For those wondering about whether or not Braun may have a legit reason to take something that would have led to an increase in testosterone (I doubt it): Either way, players know, or should know, that they MUST consult league drug administrators before taking medication or over-the-counter supplements to ensure they are not unintentionally ingesting a banned substance (see e.g., J.C. Romero).

We'll dig into this more in the coming days!

Oh, and for those wondering about his NL MVP award. Remember, the award is technically the property of the Baseball Writers Association, not MLB. So, BBWAA can decide what it wants to do - if anything - but MLB won't have a role, beyond the suspension.

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