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Ryan Braun, National Leage Baseball's MVP, has had his suspension overturned by an arbitrator
February 24, 2012 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Not Guilty! Not exactly innocent... Ryan Braun, the left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, won the Most Valuable Player award in 2011. Through a test report that was leaked to the New York Times, it was learned that Braun had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. He has repeated that he is innocent and rumors have swirled around what supplement he was taking that could have lead to a false positive. His suspension was overturned today because of a technicality. "There was improper protocol followed in the collection of Braun's urine, the persons said, noting the collection was stored and refrigerated at the home of one of the drug administers, but not sent immediately to the drug testing lab." The reaction to this is mixed.
posted by zerobyproxy (88 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Donny Knobler said it best in the last section of the last link
posted by Renoroc at 9:54 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


A Ryan Braun post about this that doesn't link to his pal Aaron Rodgers twitter account? For shame.
posted by King Bee at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2012


Live press conference happening now
posted by King Bee at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2012


I was shocked at home many people were making sense in that reactions link. I mean, Colin Cowherd is obviously being an idiot, but that's expected. The overwhelming majority were sensible people saying "these are the rules about samples, if you don't follow the rules, this is what happens."

It's like I've enter into a bizarro world where people talk about performance enhancing drugs in baseball like reasonable people and not angry lunatics.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:04 AM on February 24, 2012


Let's see if there are questions allowed.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2012


try the Braun defense.
Boo.

I dislike PED as much as the next sports fan, but I really do agree with Danny Knobler. This is how the system should work.

I get drug-tested for work, and I would use the 'Braun defense' if I failed the test and found out my urine was sitting in someone's home refrigerator because they didn't know the hours of their local FedEx locations.
posted by muddgirl at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I want to know how many other samples were kept overnight. Sounds like this was standard operating procedure. Another reason I don't like Selig.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2012


I get drug-tested for work, and I would use the 'Braun defense' if I failed the test and found out my urine was sitting in someone's home refrigerator because they didn't know the hours of their local FedEx locations.

Even if you knew you were guilty?

I'm not baiting you, as I deal with this sort of stuff too. I know chain-of-custody protocol. But the reality of it is if a sample comes back "dirty" then 99% of the time its dirty to begin with. Sample contamination in transit is pretty rare, and typically only with volatile constituents. How volatile is testosterone?
posted by Big_B at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2012


MLB should just test him every day now...to let him and everyone else know that, sure you beat this on a technicality but you'll never beat it again and you know you should have been suspended you dirty cheating fuck.
posted by schyler523 at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree he should have got off based on the technicality, but it's hardly a victory for Ryan Braun because many people will still think he's a dirty cheater and he only got off on a technicality. All this means is that the MLB needs to tighten up the rules and establish a new protocol for these circumstances. No one seems to be disputing that his sample was sealed when it reached the lab.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2012


And here I thought that drug testing officials never took their work home with them.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:19 AM on February 24, 2012


Bleh, this whole thing stinks. He wasn't really caught with a PED, he had high testosterone which may be a result of PED. I don't know the lab test, but maybe that result is also an artifact in improperly stored samples with this test. Will we likely ever hear enough to learn the truth? I doubt it.
posted by oshburghor at 10:20 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A technicality? Each player is entitled to have his sample handled in such a way so as to preserve the evidence properly. A lot is in the balance. The drug tester drove home and left it in the fridge? All wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Judges throw out evidence if it wasn't properly obtained. Sure it sucks for the the cops to have to let a perp go on a "technicality," but if your case hinges on some kind of physical evidence, maybe you should keep better goddamn care of it. I hope MLB has learned its lesson.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2012


I know chain-of-custody protocol. But the reality of it is if a sample comes back "dirty" then 99% of the time its dirty to begin with.

extraordinary claims, like "99%" require extraordinary evidence.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


But the reality of it is if a sample comes back "dirty" then 99% of the time its dirty to begin with. Sample contamination in transit is pretty rare, and typically only with volatile constituents. How volatile is testosterone?

Admittedly, this is according to what an anonymous source said his lawyer might argue, but, "Braun’s testosterone level was more than twice as high as any previously recorded."

If that's true, I'd say it's an indicator of a false positive. That or Ryan Braun took all the steroids and still managed to completely pass a test a few weeks later.

No one seems to be disputing that his sample was sealed when it reached the lab.

The sample was in the refrigerator of the guy who seals the tests. It would be trivially easy for someone in that position to doctor a test while it's sitting in his fridge and then seal it later. That's why this stuff matters. If it had left the possession of the one person who has the ability to falsify a seal, then he wouldn't have been able to make this argument.
posted by Copronymus at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Every player gets tested twice a season and then there is random testing on top of that. It appears that the "random" drug testing isn't - Jose Bautista said he's been tested 16 times in the past two years. Considering how angry the Commissioner's office seems about this, I can see Braun getting "random" tests every other week this season.
posted by thecjm at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2012


It is all wrong, but it seems like baseball never cared to check if this protocol was followed. Further, if it was handled wrongly, then what? A re-test? Braun is talking about chain of custody, but, without on-site testing, it is always out of either the submitter of the sample or the lab.

I continue to blame Selig for the whole farce of drug testing in baseball.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2012


I have long believed that most athletes at elite levels of most sports are dirty, and that the culture among these people has a large body of knowlege devoted to staying ahead of drug testing technology. It is mostly when idiots like Manny Ramirez screw up that you hear about it.

I also believe that the overseers of various sports know this, and are doing their part in the dance.

Home runs, fast times, long jumps, etc translate into more money for everyone, and I feel that all the drug testing is, to some extent, a necessary charade in order for a dipshit level of deniability to stay in place.
posted by Danf at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It would be trivially easy for someone in that position to doctor a test while it's sitting in his fridge and then seal it later.

How do you know that?
posted by MegoSteve at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2012


So, uh, do NOT go digging around that guy's fridge for a beer...
posted by apranica at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Barry Bonds' favourite pharmacist, Victor Conte, thinks that Braun's testosterone levels match up with fast-acting testosterone treatments.
posted by thecjm at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the person who had control of the sample wanted to doctor it, he has the time from the players location to FED EX to do so. The whole chain of custody element needs to be re-thought and some level of on-site testing done if you want to eliminate the "it was out of the chain of custody" argument.
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:29 AM on February 24, 2012


BTW, this is a slam-dunk when you get it in an arbitration. The decision is totally not surprising.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first time a positive steroid test was overturned was for the star player on the team that MLB commissioner Bud Selig used to own. Weird coincidence.

(I agree that the sample was mishandled, and the decision to find him not-guilty was correct. But I also don't think that makes him innocent.)
posted by inigo2 at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2012


I am under the impression that there are hundreds of these tests being performed on players throughout the year, on random days and hours.

Is this the first time a sample could not be delivered to the lab because a FedEx office was closed? I find it hard to imagine a great number of tests haven't gone through some sort of waiting period until delivery.
posted by CancerMan at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2012


Related?
posted by obscurator at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2012


I'm actually surprised at the number of comments here and elsewhere on the internet that are along the lines of "Sure, he got off on a technicality BUT HE'S STILL A CHEATER", while there doesn't appear to be anywhere near equal outrage at the fact that the results of a supposedly confidential drug test were leaked before the accused had a chance to appeal (and obviously before it was determined that improper procedures had been followed in administering the test).

I have no idea whether or not Ryan Braun ingested a banned substance, but I hate the "Guilty until proven innocent" rhetoric that seems to surround these sort of accusations.
posted by The Gooch at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is probably a good place to note that there is essentially no science-based evidence that steroid use makes you a better baseball player.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no idea whether or not Ryan Braun ingested a banned substance, but I hate the "Guilty until proven innocent" rhetoric that seems to surround these sort of accusations.

I agree the test shouldn't have been leaked based on the rules that MLB and the players union agreed to (though I'm not sure I love that rule). That said, "guilty until proven innocent" is something that has happened because of the massive steroid use in MLB, and the huge amount of fighting against real testing that the players and MLB did. That, plus the fact that Braun's test came back tainted? It's gonna happen.
posted by inigo2 at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first time a positive steroid test was overturned was for the star player on the team that MLB commissioner Bud Selig used to own. Weird coincidence.

This isn't necessarily the first time. This is the first time we know about. If a player tested positive and successfully appealed, under normal situations (ie. no one leaked info of the positive test) we would never know about it.

In fact, Jimmy Rollins said early on in the Braun process that he knew of at least one other player who won on appeal.

Also, I can name at least one minor league player who won on appeal.
posted by drezdn at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, the PED situation is a black eye on MLB and, although certainly this was just, it understandably makes lots of people uneasy.

On the other hand, Ryan Braun led me to a fantasy baseball victory last year, and a 50-game suspension would have made the early part of this season rough.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:28 AM on February 24, 2012


"Braun’s testosterone level was more than twice as high as any previously recorded." If that's true, I'd say it's an indicator of a false positive. That or Ryan Braun took all the steroids and still managed to completely pass a test a few weeks later.

Yeah, I don't get this either. How does SCIENCE explain such an anomalous result? But also, why didn't Braun say THAT PEE WEREN'T MINE! during his press conference?

I find it all strange. Is it also true that the person who collected the sample drove by FedEx facilities on the way to his house and simply chose not to drop off the package that day? More weird and wacky stuff.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:35 AM on February 24, 2012


This isn't necessarily the first time. This is the first time we know about. If a player tested positive and successfully appealed, under normal situations (ie. no one leaked info of the positive test) we would never know about it.

Valid point, I didn't think of that.

Though, I wouldn't compare the minor leaguer's case to Braun's; the minor league guy's second sample came back negative. Braun's lawyers didn't even challenge the actual samples, just the handling.
posted by inigo2 at 11:36 AM on February 24, 2012


Here's a story about the Jimmy Rollins tweet.
posted by drezdn at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2012


Braun's lawyers didn't even challenge the actual samples.

Braun offered to take a DNA test to prove that the samples weren't his, but MLB refused.
posted by drezdn at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire situation with the ridiculously elevated levels and the mis-managed sample was so bizarre and un-professional and sketchy, I can't believe it wasn't thrown out immediately. Unfortunately it was leaked and the media went nuts over it so they had to play it all out. Disgraceful.
posted by silverstatue at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if you knew you were guilty?

Absolutely. Protocol protects all the accused, not just the innocent ones.

Personally, I think their protocol is pretty silly if it relies on storing urine samples in private residential refrigerators for any length of time (as it allegedly does - many test administrators have come forward to say that they do this regularly!) I know there is some difficulty because testing occurs every day of the week - can they not partner with local laboratories rather than send their samples to a central facility?
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, if the samples are double-secured like my workplace does, who cares how long it takes to get the samples to a Fedex box? Why include that statement in the protocol at all?
posted by muddgirl at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2012


I'm just waiting for the best mascot in baseball Petey P. Cup to weigh in on this.
posted by drezdn at 12:01 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other news, Ben Johnson has identified the guy who spiked his drink in Seoul: André Jackson. Also, Alberto Contador and Jan Ulrich have been hung out to dry, but Lance Armstrong is still a hero.

Oh, and no, no PEDs in pro Tennis, none at all. They wouldn't help even if people took them.
posted by Chuckles at 12:11 PM on February 24, 2012


drezdn: "I'm just waiting for the best mascot in baseball Petey P. Cup to weigh in on this."

Peter P. Cup and Pokey Syringe look like demons from a former heroin addict's horrific fever dream.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is probably a good place to note that there is essentially no science-based evidence that steroid use makes you a better baseball player.

How can drugs that build muscle mass and allow for faster recovery after injury and exercise not be a benefit in a contact sport? Either the drugs don't do these things (which they obviously do which is why doctors prescribe them to non atheletes on a regular basis) or the side effects out weigh the benefits. I'd be willing to entertain the latter hypothesise but that seems unlikely considering steriods benefits during legal use.
posted by Mitheral at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2012


This is probably a good place to note that there is essentially no science-based evidence that steroid use makes you a better baseball player.

That site is the pinnacle of how not to present a science based argument.

The author uses (intentionally?) obfuscated statistics and analysis, frames his entire argument negating the effects of steroids in terms of a "juiced baseball", addresses home run distribution in terms of season totals by all players and not in terms of seasons by players known to have used steroids against previous personal seasons or seasons by other exceptional players.

Here is a refutation of both the statistical analysis used in sources cited by that website, and a brief statistical analysis of home run totals vs at bats.
The Law of Genius and Home Runs Refuted

Here is an argument that the greater muscle mass provided by steroids contributes to home run totals by turning balls that would have previously been warning track fly-outs into first row home runs. Of Bonds record setting 73 home runs in 2001, 18 wouldn't have made it without an extra nine feet of distance.
616* [no asterisk required]

And a little anecdotal evidence for good measure:

Florida 7, San Francisco 3 August 17, 2002
The bat shattered, the ball sailed and Barry Bonds smiled.
Bonds' latest home run wasn't as memorable as the one before, but it was the hot topic after the Florida Marlins beat the San Francisco Giants 7-3 on Saturday night.
Bonds' broken-bat shot was his first home run since becoming the fourth player to reach the 600-homer milestone Aug. 9.
He slowly jogged to first with the handle as he watched No. 601 barely clear the fence in the first inning. He dropped the handle at first, stared at the barrel that landed near the bag and then smiled widely as he began his home run trot.
It was his 34th homer of the season, but may have been his most improbable ever.
"I don't think anyone has (homered) with a bat that exploded,'' Bonds said.
posted by clearly at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2012


"I don't think anyone has (homered) with a bat that exploded,'' Bonds said.

It has definitely happened since then.
posted by drezdn at 12:37 PM on February 24, 2012


Mitheral, the site goes into detail on the point you bring up. Adding upper body strength doesn't help you hit taters.

I can't read clearly's links now but I look forward to getting the chance.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 12:55 PM on February 24, 2012


In other sports, Diane Modahl got an olympic ruling overturned.
posted by drezdn at 1:08 PM on February 24, 2012


I think the real problem here is not that the sample sat overnight, but that it did so in an unsecure fridge or that protocol wasn't followed/didn't exist for what to do when you miss the FedEx dropoff. If this sample had gone back to a lab fridge, preferably with a signout and a lock, this wouldn't be an issue. But whoever was in charge of the sample was lazy or tired or in a rush and just stuck it at 4 degrees.
posted by maryr at 1:08 PM on February 24, 2012


That might be true. But it should help you with most other things baseball players do. IE: throw balls further and faster, run faster, leap higher and defend better. And that doesn't include the benefit of being able to train harder by being able to recover faster.
posted by Mitheral at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2012


Just to clarify why I think the post-Bonds uproar over steroids is pretty much a load of shit:

So, say steroids to materially and measurably improve player performance (I don't really believe this, but I'm happy to admit I don't know enough to say either way). Given that, why are they such a big deal?

Lots of things players do artificially improve performance. I'd argue that Tommy John surgery does more to compromise the record books than steroids do. Even if steroids work as advertised, all they do is add ~20 pounds of muscle that makes you hit the ball harder. An adult male athlete can add that muscle without chemical help with a bit more work. Tommy John surgery reconstructs a player's elbow, and lots of players even end up throwing harder after the surgery than before. Why is getting some chemical help in bulking up some kind of violation of principles, but building a new elbow isn't? Neither of them makes you an elite athlete on its own, but both give you a leg up on your competition who don't partake. I'd argue that the difference between a blown elbow and a reconstructed elbow is a hell of a lot bigger than the difference between hitting with and without steroids. Why don't we put an asterix beside every pitching record held by a player who had reconstructive surgery?

Steroids have entered the popular imagination as some kind of magic pill that makes you a better athlete. It might help (or it might not!) but they don't allow you to put on muscle and learn to hit homers overnight. Training hard makes you a great athlete. Steroids may help, but so do any number of things.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2012


According to reporter Will Carroll (@injuryexpert on twitter), Braun's defense team were able to recreate the off the charts results of Braun's testing, showing mishandling could have been the cause. He has an article about the whole thing for sale on Amazon.
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe Braun took PEDs this season, maybe he didn't. If I had to bet (and if there were a way to actually do this, I would), I would bet that he didn't. Here is why.

1. His power numbers (e.g., home runs) this season were not the highest he's ever had in a season. His HR total was third highest in his career. When he hit his career high of 37 HR in 2008, he had 611 AB. This means he was hitting a homer about 6.1% of the time. This year, he hit 33 HR in 563 AB or about 5.9% of the time. That is simply consistency.
2. He just turned 28, right about the prime age for an athlete to be at his overall best. Yet, his power numbers stayed pretty constant for his career. If he's a better overall baseball player than he was in 2008, isn't that kind of thing to be expected? Aren't good prospects supposed to get better as they mature in the league?
3. When the story first broke, his friend and fellow athlete Aaron Rodgers came out and said he believed Braun when he said the story was BS. Why would a high-profile athlete like Rodgers put his name on the line for what someone else was up to?
4. He's tested clean something like 25 times previous, a test came back positive, and he immediately requested to be tested again. As mentioned above, Braun even said he would do a DNA test to make sure that the urine was his, but MLB declined to do the test. Wouldn't they want to be sure?

I don't know whether he did or not, which is why I say I would bet that he didn't. I don't expect those reasons above to be a convincing argument or anything.

And that doesn't include the benefit of being able to train harder

Well, according to the press conference earlier today:
Our times are recorded every time we run down the line, first to third, first to home. I literally didn’t get one-tenth of a second faster. My workouts have been virtually the exact same for six years. I didn’t get one percent stronger. I didn’t work out any more often. I didn’t have any additional power or any additional arm strength. All of those things are documented contemporaneously, and if anything had changed, I wouldn’t be able to go back and pretend like it didn’t change.
Like I said, I'd bet against PED usage.
posted by King Bee at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh man, so now "Sources told Munson that the collector left Braun's sample on a desk in a Tupperware container and left it there for two days."

Not even in a fridge or any sort of tamper-proof container, just in some Tupperware on his desk. I guess if the AC was on, that counts as a "cool place"?

If nothing else, MLB comes out of this looking like a bunch of chumps with a pretty cavalier attitude toward drug testing. Certainly it's cavalier in comparison with the standard they hold players to on these same issues.

Also, considering this whole thing is the fourth or fifth steroid scandal that's been leaked to the press when it should have stayed confidential, they really need to make sure stuff like this doesn't get leaked to the press again. It makes the whole sport look terrible and does serious damage to the reputations of players. Once the accusation is out there, no matter what happens, there is absolutely no way to prove it false to the satisfaction of some people (see Jeff Bagwell for evidence of that).
posted by Copronymus at 1:48 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given that, why are they such a big deal?

1. Steroids are illegal, and have negative health effects, especially when taken during adolescence.
2. Condoning steroid use by professional athletes condones it for amateur and aspiring athletes.
3. Steroids are cheating. They allow for unnatural muscle gain, quicker recovery periods, increased lean mass and fat loss. They provide an unfair performance advantage.
4. Baseball is more than what happens during any given season. It has a long storied history, and statistical data going back for more than a century. It has been the same game, with the same dimensions, and the same rules. The steroid era is a blight on the continuity of the sport, the record books, and the concepts of fairness and sportsmanship.

Why don't we put an asterix beside every pitching record held by a player who had reconstructive surgery?

Because no pitcher who has undergone reconstructive surgery has come close to holding a pitching record. Saves are not a worthwhile statistic, and Eric Gagne would have an asterisk for steroids before he had an asterisk for Tommy John surgery.
posted by clearly at 1:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has been the same game, with the same dimensions, and the same rules.

Except the pitching mound has changed in distance from the plate, and overall height. Fences are changed from time to time. Finally, the designated hitter rule didn't exist until 1973.
posted by drezdn at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2012


Because no pitcher who has undergone reconstructive surgery has come close to holding a pitching record.

Chris Carpenter was second in Cy Young voting in 2009 and had Tommy John surgery in 2007.
posted by drezdn at 2:16 PM on February 24, 2012


BTW, this is a slam-dunk when you get it in an arbitration. The decision is totally not surprising.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:34 PM on February 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


Yes, this is indisputably a great victory for the minutiae of legal process. Too bad it's such a sad defeat for the integrity of the sport.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:22 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except the pitching mound has changed in distance from the plate, and overall height. Fences are changed from time to time. Finally, the designated hitter rule didn't exist until 1973.

60' 6" and 90' since 1893. Outfield fences always vary. Willie Mays would have been watching a home run fly over his head if he wasn't playing in the Polo Grounds for "The Catch." The DH is still hated by many as an abomination.

Chris Carpenter was second in Cy Young voting in 2009 and had Tommy John surgery in 2007.

Looking at the list of Players who have undergone Tommy John surgery, there aren't any who stand out as having significantly better results after the surgery. Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young in 2005 before the surgery, John Smoltz was dominant before having the surgery, and continued his solid career afterwards.

It will be interesting to see how Stephen Strasburg does after having the surgery early in his career. I'm betting he winds up closer to Kerry Wood than Roy Halladay.

Josh Johnson hasn't been able to stay healthy enough to be an exception to the rule.
posted by clearly at 2:56 PM on February 24, 2012


Yes, this is indisputably a great victory for the minutiae of legal process. Too bad it's such a sad defeat for the integrity of the sport.

Yeah, god forbid an employee exercise their mutually-agreed-up right to arbitration in labor disputes! It would be much better if employers could impose punishments on their employees without any oversight!
posted by muddgirl at 3:05 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Too bad it's such a sad defeat for the integrity of the sport.

Some dude leaving the NL MVP's piss in a Tupperware container on a desk in his den for two days before shipping it off to the lab = integrity of the sport. If so, no thanks. MLB has egg all of its face, not Braun.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:16 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, all over its face.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:17 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Braun offered to take a DNA test to prove that the samples weren't his, but MLB refused.

From one of the articles:
an MLB source told ESPN's Mike Golic that Braun's side backed off of the offer to take a DNA test.
posted by inigo2 at 3:54 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It would be much better if employers could impose punishments on their employees without any oversight!

No, it wouldn't. But that doesn't mean someone who loves the sport can't feel a pang of regret that the underlying issue -- whether Ryan Bruan used PEDs -- will never be addressed.

MLB has egg all of its face, not Braun.

Oh, I think there's plenty of egg to go around.

Some dude leaving the NL MVP's piss in a Tupperware container on a desk in his den for two days before shipping it off to the lab = integrity of the sport.

No (according to this baseball fan) the integrity of the sport depends on its players competing on a level playing field. The answer to the question of whether Ryan Bruan used PEDs is either "yes" or "no." If "yes," it hurts the integrity of the game. Unfortunately, the answer has become immaterial.
posted by pardonyou? at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2012


whether Ryan Bruan used PEDs -- will never be addressed

The problem with drug testing programs by themselves is they can't prove, in the absence of any other evidence, whether or not someone knowingly took PEDs. I don't think this cases changes anything. Presumably if there was any other evidence that Braun took PEDs, it would have come out in trial and during arbitration (but right now we just don't know that information, because this was all supposed to be confidential).

Speaking of confidentiality, it's really frustrating that all the information out right now is second-hand from "MLB sources" (if it is negative towards Braun) or from "unnamed sources" if it's positive. At this point it seems like there's a better way to handle this, PR-wise.
posted by muddgirl at 4:52 PM on February 24, 2012


Amphetamines "have been around the game forever," the Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt writes in his new book, "Clearing the Bases," which HarperCollins will publish next month. "In my day," he says, they "were widely available in major-league clubhouses."

Nothing new...
posted by sensi63 at 7:21 PM on February 24, 2012


King Bee writes "Like I said, I'd bet against PED usage."

To be clear I'm not saying Ryan is/was using steroids. Just refuting that steroids aren't performance enhancing.
posted by Mitheral at 8:55 PM on February 24, 2012


If nothing else, MLB comes out of this looking like a bunch of chumps with a pretty cavalier attitude toward drug testing. Certainly it's cavalier in comparison with the standard they hold players to on these same issues.

Not unique to MLB. It's the same with every sport where the fans and owners insist in having both "clean" athletes and have them break records and get better year after year after year. Obviously at some point this becomes impossible without the help of more scientific and chemical help, but this cannot be admitted to as long as huge financial investments are dependent on keeping this myth of sportmanship alive. At the same time, there obviously cannot be any structural attempts to reform the sport, as that would mean the precious records won't be broken so quickly anymore and the sport becomes less appealing to watch.

So what you get is witchhunt, where you get a patsy, preferably one not too high on the totem pole but high enough to be newsworthy, bonus points if nobody really likes them anyway or are in some way an outsider with few connections to the sport's power structure. You test them until you get a dodgy result, make sure to leak it to the press, then get them condemned in the court of public opinion and come down hard on them as an example to others.

Meanwhile everybody else keeps popping pills or whatever, nothing really changes, except for the poor sod punished for what everybody else was doing too.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:39 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe Braun took PEDs this season, maybe he didn't. If I had to bet (and if there were a way to actually do this, I would), I would bet that he didn't. Here is why.

Maybe he's just been taking steroids his whole career, but been smarter about his cycling regimen. I think other sports have established that it's very possible to regularly take PEDs and get away with it for some time.
posted by inigo2 at 6:11 AM on February 25, 2012


Maybe he's Lizard People.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's the case. He's never had a sample of his test positive for lizardness. On the other hand, he has had a sample test positive for PEDs.
posted by inigo2 at 7:12 AM on February 26, 2012


On the other hand, he has had a sample test positive for PEDs.
The test showed a prohibited substance in Braun’s body, but not a drug or a steroid, the person said.
Again, all the information the public has about Braun is through anonymous sources. But those sources say Braun did NOT test positive for a drug (whatever that means).
posted by muddgirl at 7:24 AM on February 26, 2012


You're right, my statement should've read that he had a sample that "tested positive for a substance prohibited under the league’s drug policy". Possibly means he tested positive for a masking agent or something? Who knows. But, the "lizard people" snark is kinda off the mark.
posted by inigo2 at 8:03 AM on February 26, 2012


inigo2: "You're right, my statement should've read that he had a sample that "tested positive for a substance prohibited under the league’s drug policy". Possibly means he tested positive for a masking agent or something? Who knows. But, the "lizard people" snark is kinda off the mark."

Well, actually what the sample (reportedly) tested positive for was the highest levels of testosterone ever recorded by a drug test, not the presence of any specific substance. Maybe Braun's just got gigantic balls.
posted by Copronymus at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2012


Based solely on what has been leaked to the press, I can't be sure that Braun even exists, much less whether he actually tested positive for anything (or just had elevated testosterone) or whether he's a lizardman.
posted by muddgirl at 1:36 PM on February 26, 2012


Well, actually what the sample (reportedly) tested positive for was the highest levels of testosterone ever recorded by a drug test, not the presence of any specific substance. Maybe Braun's just got gigantic balls.

From this SI article:

"A separate source familiar with Braun's sample said that his elevated testosterone ratio was not unusual when compared to athletes from other sports who have failed drug tests and served suspensions."


Based solely on what has been leaked to the press, I can't be sure that Braun even exists, much less whether he actually tested positive for anything (or just had elevated testosterone) or whether he's a lizardman.

Braun exists, and is not a lizardman.
posted by inigo2 at 7:06 AM on February 27, 2012


Please read before commenting: Based solely on what has been leaked to the press

My point is that we are making judgements about the facts of this case based on a little more than nothing. From what I can see, the only disinterested party who has all the facts of this case is the arbiter.
posted by muddgirl at 7:13 AM on February 27, 2012


Please read before commenting: Based solely on what has been leaked to the press

I read. It has been confirmed in all the leaks and all the articles that Braun is a male human being that plays baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers. I understand what you're trying to say, and I agree there are a lot of contradictory/questionable leaks, but there are a few basic facts that both sides have agreed on.
posted by inigo2 at 8:03 AM on February 27, 2012


And I maintain that one fact which is not 'agreed-on' in any leaks is the nature of Braun's failed urine test. (Do you really think that I am confused as to whether or not Braun exists?)
posted by muddgirl at 8:05 AM on February 27, 2012


Obviously not. But I also think that throwing out that "lizard people" stuff is useless hyperbole.

And I also think that both sides have agreed that Braun's sample showed elevated levels of testosterone; how it got that way is the question that we can't answer.
posted by inigo2 at 5:39 AM on February 28, 2012


As for "useless hyperbole", look no further than
Maybe he's just been taking steroids his whole career, but been smarter about his cycling regimen.
Do you really think he's been doing this his whole career? If so, when did it start? When he was a hot prospect in his junior and senior years of high school, at the ages of 17 and 18? When he was ranked the sixth-best shortstop prospect in the country?

Or maybe it started was when he was in college at Miami, at age 20, when he had batted .364 with 76 RBI and 17 HR?

It probably started when he was in the minor leagues, right? Surely this young prospect didn't get better by constantly practicing and playing baseball, or getting older and maturing into a full-grown adult, did he?

The simplest explanation is that the test was botched, and that he hasn't been using PEDs.

At what point in his career, exactly, do you hypothesize this started?
posted by King Bee at 7:09 AM on February 28, 2012


It's not exactly out of the realm of possibility that steriod use, if that is actually what is happening here, started in high school.
posted by Mitheral at 7:21 AM on February 28, 2012


It has been the same game, with the same dimensions, and the same rules.

The rules have changed dramatically over the past 150 odd years. Overhand pitching was illegal until the 1890s, the pitcher originally delivered the ball from flat ground, foul balls were not strikes and were defined differently (allowing the rather less-than-sporting strategy of fair-foul hitting), balls caught on a single bounce used to be an out, and even the strike and ball counts used to be vary from season to season. There were seasons in which players were allowed to request specific strike zones and, if you go back far enough, you used to be able to get a runner out by pegging him with the ball.

It was called "soaking the runner," and it was glorious.
posted by snottydick at 8:42 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Correction: the 1880s was when overhand pitching began to be allowed. I'm a doofus.
posted by snottydick at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2012


It's not exactly out of the realm of possibility that steriod use, if that is actually what is happening here, started in high school.

I didn't say that it was. I said it was unlikely. The study you linked to agrees that it is unlikely:

Results indicate that 6.6% of 12th grade male students use or have used AS and that over two thirds of the user group initiated use when they were 16 years of age or younger.

6.6%? That doesn't sound likely to you, does it?
posted by King Bee at 9:18 AM on February 28, 2012


King Bee, are you trying to argue that PED use isn't common in MLB? Or just that it is unlikely in the case of this one guy?

In either case, permit me to laugh uproariously at you... :)
posted by Chuckles at 4:05 AM on March 1, 2012


Chuckles, I direct you to my comment upthread where I outline my reasons for betting against PED usage in the case of Ryan Braun.

The current argument is now that Braun has been taking PEDs essentially since he was 16, and I was refuting that with the comment directly above yours. Braun would have been in the 6.6% of high school students who take steroids, and that essentially means it isn't likely that he was one of the people doing this in high school.

Laugh uproariously if you will, but the only evidence there is that he took PEDs is a single urine sample which may or may not even be his. Usually people who take PEDs exhibit some kind of change in their play which would not be attributable to anything other than drugs. There is no evidence of that in the case of Braun. When athletes are accused of PED usage, they don't normally have a high profile athlete from a different sport come out and speak in their defense. When athletes are accused of PED usage, they don't normally request that a DNA test be done so that it can be made certain that the sample is yours.

I laugh uproariously at those who think this is an open and shut case, and that Braun obviously has been using PEDs since the age of 16. Grand assertions require grand evidence, and there is not a preponderance of evidence in favor of the grand assertion that Braun has been using PEDs for the past 12 years.
posted by King Bee at 10:01 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't misunderstand me. From a legalistic point of view, I'm sure this is very complicated. Whatever. Also, I don't care about baseball any more, I lost interest in the 90s, so I don't know much about this guy.

What bothers me is that a lot of "big sports fans" seem to have their head in the sand when it comes to PEDs. It is kind of pathetic really. Odds are that most MLB players are on the sauce, just like most every other elite level athlete in every sport.

More specifically about what you've said.. That his game hasn't changed radically just means he isn't going all Barry Bonds on the weights. That he hasn't tested positive other times just means the testing regime is laughably easy to evade. That other players in other sports are standing up for him is just classic Omerta. That he offered a DNA test just means that he has good council, after all when it looked like he might get taken up on the offer he withdrew it.

Spend some time in the Clinic, not interested in cycling then just read this thread..
posted by Chuckles at 2:22 PM on March 1, 2012


That his game hasn't changed radically just means he isn't going all Barry Bonds on the weights.

Or it means he isn't using PEDs.

That he hasn't tested positive other times just means the testing regime is laughably easy to evade.

Or it means he isn't using PEDs.

That other players in other sports are standing up for him is just classic Omerta.

Or it means he isn't using PEDs. (Also, this never happens, it isn't classic "omerta".)

That he offered a DNA test just means that he has good council, after all when it looked like he might get taken up on the offer he withdrew it.

Or it means he isn't using PEDs, and your "a source told Mike Golic that..." isn't hard evidence either.

And this:

Odds are that most MLB players are on the sauce, just like most every other elite level athlete in every sport.

The elite level athletes in every sport? LeBron James? Tom Brady? These guys are using steroids? You really think that?
posted by King Bee at 3:27 PM on March 1, 2012


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