Brains and Braun! ! !

Posted: February 24, 2012 by Kodi in MLB

Ryan Braun wants to sincerely tell MLB fans that he “never put a drop of that in my body”

He is the first player to have their positive drug test overturned and 50 game suspension lifted

There was a lot of stories surrounding Braun during these hard times including allegations of a infamous STD

There has been a dark cloud following Major League Baseball for many years and dates back to the 1980’s when ball players began doing anything they could to become bigger, faster and stronger. Steroids have been a part of many players regiment throughout the years in an attempt to achieve their highest physical ability in the shortest amount of time. The dishonor of steroids surrounds some of the best players in the last 25 years and slowly more and more names have been linked to the drug. The MLB has had a drug policy for many years but in the Winter Meetings of 2004 the MLB announced a new drug policy which included both random and off-season drug testing. In the spring of 2006 the MLB Players association and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball agreed to the Join Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Over the years many players who never played under this new drug testing policy have been closely linked or admitted their use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Since 2004 there has been 66 players who have been suspended for positive tests and there has never been an appeal that has overturned any of these suspensions. That was until Ryan Braun’s 50 game suspension was overturned on Thursday. Braun is a 28 year old left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers who selected him 5th overall in the 2005 draft. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 hitting .324/.370/.634 with 34 HR’s, 97 RBI, 15 SB’s and scoring 91 runs. He has become one of the best players in the MLB and added to his resume last season when he was voted the NL MVP. He had 33 HR’s. 111 RBI, 33 SB’s, 58 BB’s and just 93 K’s hitting .332/.397/.597 and just beat Los Angeles Dodgers OF Matt Kemp in the voting.

The Milwaukee Brewers were in the middle of the playoffs when Braun was selected to give a urine sample. The initial test was given on October 1st but Braun wasn’t made aware of his positive test result until October 19th. Ryan Braun said in his press conference on Friday that he immediately contacted the players association to express that he had not done anything that could have led to those test results. When a player submits a urinalysis it is proctored by the Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc. (CDT) who collect the sample and are responsible for transportation of that sample. Those samples are send to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a testing facility known simply as the “Montreal Lab”. There the sample goes through a process to calculate the subjects ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone.

Normally the average human ratio fluctuates at or near a 1 to 1 level but scientists understand that professional athletes and others are capable of having higher levels naturally in their body. In 1991 there was a study of this ratio and they found that in the general population it is extremely rare, less than 1%, for people to have a ratio higher than 6 to 1 which is the standard used by the International Olympic Committee to determine a “positive” test. The MLB however has stricter standards and any player with a ratio greater than 4 to 1 will be flagged as a “positive” test for performance enhancing drugs. When Braun’s “positive” test results were leaked to the public it was later speculated that his results were closer to 20 to 1 which was the single highest ratio in thousands of test by the MLB.

When the news broke to the public through the media speculations immediately began to arise and Braun’s credibility was on the line. Many believed that Braun should return his MVP trophy and that the MLB should allow a re-vote which would have clearly swayed towards Kemp and away from Braun. Ryan Braun however stood tall and knew that he had done nothing wrong, no matter what the public opinion was of him at the time. He was in the middle of a legal battle when he went to a Manhattan ballroom with a full crowd to accept his Award.

“You know, sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure,” Braun told those in attendance at the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. “We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or as opportunities, and I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity and this will be no different. I have always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.”

This was Braun’s first public appearance since the allegations had come to fruition and the Hebrew Hammer showed no embarrassment in his achievement. The public has become extremely skeptical of players who promise that they are clean and that they have never used PED’s but up until this point none of those players were able to get their suspension lifted. There were many fans who believed that Braun was just another name on the laundry list of steroid using ball players but why would Ryan throw away a 100+ million dollar contract to juice? Nobody could figure out why and when you looked at his number they were all very similar. It wasn’t like his 2011 season was far and away the best of his career, rather he had consistently played well averaging 32 HR’s, 106 RBI, 19 SB’s, 48 BB’s, 112 K’s while hitting .312/.371/.563 in his 5 seasons in the MLB.

In a 2009 interview Braun was discussing steroid use after it came out that SS/3B Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids. “I don’t know if I would say I was surprised,” Braun said about A-Rod’s acknowledgement “I feel like it was so rampant, so prevalent in baseball during that time period that not much surprises me anymore. If anything, I was surprised he got caught, that it came out this long after he supposedly did it.” He went on to say that he was never tempted to use PED’s and that “It’s never something that I sought, I would never do it because if I took steroids, I would hit 60 or 70 home runs.” You can take this in a couple of different directions, if you are a Braun supporter you argue that this is proof he has grown up playing ball the “right” way. Or if you are a Braun hater you see that he was surprised that A-Rod got caught and that the only reason he wouldn’t take steroids is because his HR total would make it too obvious that he was taking illegal substances.

There were a lot of Braun supporters during this entire debacle but that didn’t mean he wasn’t the center of some vicious rumors. If it wasn’t steroids than what was it? Could it have been a illegal substance? But there were so many people who believed that Braun would get a favorable review and overturn this positive drug test so that he wouldn’t be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season. In Section G.1. under the Joint Drug Agreement, is the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) which states:

A Player authorized to ingest a Prohibited Substance through a valid, medically appropriate prescription provided by a duly licensed physician shall receive a TUE. . . A urine sample which is found to contain a Prohibited Substance will not be deemed a positive test result if such sample was provided by a Player with an effective TUE for that substance.

Why is this clause so important to the Ryan Braun case? Well if you listened to the whispers around the Milwaukee area or read forums on Brewers blog sites it has a everything to do with why Braun would get off.

Many people believed that Ryan Braun was the proud owner of Herpes. So much so that people would even joke about going to Braun’s Waterfront restaurant and getting your dinner with a side of the herps. Don’t waste your time scrolling through Google images of Braun looking for the skin eating disease chewing away at his lips. After some emails to I was informed that there are two different strands of the disease, one that attacks the soft tissue on your face and another stronger strain that attacks the genital area.

Braun seems to have caught himself a lifelong itch according to some and it was his medication that could have spiked his results but due to the TUE clause he could get off. According to the aforementioned website it is believed in the medical field that high levels of testosterone seems to keep the Herpes at bay. People had put two and two together and somebody began a rumor that Braun may have tested positive for PED’s but it was medication he took under Dr.’s orders making the test results obsolete.

As pitchers and catchers arrived at Spring Training Milwaukee fans were anticipating the decision on Braun’s appeal but knew history wasn’t on their side. The decision became that much more important when longtime 1B Prince Fielder signed with the Detroit Tigers in the off-season. The Brew Crew were worried that without Prince and Braun missing the first 50 games their season would be doomed. On February 23rd Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun became the first MLB player to have his positive drug test overturned when an arbitration panel voted 2-1 in favor of the NL MVP.

Braun had won his appeal but it wasn’t under the speculation many fans thought, rather Braun and his team contested the process of the test not the results. “The entire process has really been frustrating for me.  It’s been an extremely difficult, challenging time in my life. But at the end of the day, I know the truth” Braun said in a statement Friday. The burden of proof was on Braun, he and his team had to prove that something caused the positive test or that something went wrong during the process that could have led to those results.

Braun noticed that all samples are to be taken immediately to a FedEx Kinko’s on the day they are collected unless there are unusual circumstances that prohibit them being shipped. When they are dropped off at FedEx the example switches from a name to a number, the donor (in this case Braun) and the collector are the only two people that know what that sample really is. Once it is dropped off at FedEx there is a certain confidentiality that follows but in Braun’s case the collector took the sample and didn’t drop it off at a FedEx for nearly 44 hours.

Braun was tested at 4:30 p.m. on October 1st after the completion of a 1 o’clock game and his sample was provided minutes before two other players. The collector left the field around 5 o’clock and according to Braun and his team there are at least 5 FedEx locations within 5 miles of the stadium that were open until 9 p.m. that night and 1 that was open 24 hours. There were another additional 18/19 FedEx locations between the stadium and the collector’s home where he could have dropped off the samples. “Why didn’t he bring it in, I don’t know. On the day that he did bring it in, FedEx opened at 7:30 a.m. Why didn’t he bring it in until 1:30 p.m.? I can’t answer that question. Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to it during that 44 hour period?” Braun asked the media during his press conference.

Ryan Braun handled the situation incredibly well and his press conference completely persuaded me into standing with him rather than challenge him. It is hard for me to hear so many players before him claim their innocence and serve their suspensions in the end. They talk such a big game, saying things similar to those made in Braun’s statement Friday but there is one HUGE factor that made up my mind. Braun and his team challenge the process and admitted that they learned a lot about the collector, the way things work and are extremely suspicious about what took place. So much so that Braun was unable to answer certain questions due to their continuation of the legal process. But what made me believe Braun? The fact that Braun was willing to give the MLB a DNA sample to test the urine that was flagged with “positive” results and the MLB chose not to follow through proves to me that something went awfully wrong.

Steroids and PED’s are always going to be a part of the sporting culture but Braun’s appeal and victory may now set a slippery precedent for future test results. “Ultimately, as I sit here today, the system worked because I am innocent, and I was able to prove my innocence. After today I look forward to returning my focus to the game of baseball, being able to get back with my teammates, allowing my life to return to some sense of normalcy and focusing on helping our team get back to the post-season.” Braun also wanted to make sure that people knew those rumors about him having an STD were completely false but I noticed it was the only time during his press conference that he looked away from the camera while speaking. Is he just another Herpes carrier that is in complete denial about their disease? It wouldn’t be the first time somebody denied having it?


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