Analyzing the (Curious?) Case of Ryan Braun’s Appeal

24 02 2012

When I first heard the news that Ryan Braun won the appeal to overturn his initial 50 game suspension, I had two immediate reactions. The first was surprise; nobody ever won an appeal before. The second was also surprise, but more of a shake-my-head surprise; the MLB had messed up big time.

Well, I was half right.

Yes, Braun was the first player to ever win an appeal. I was right about that. I guess I was sort of right on the second part, but it wasn’t like I thought. The MLB (or whoever was in charge of the testing. For all intents and purposes, I will say the MLB.) apparently failed to follow procedure in collecting the urine sample. Although the urine contained synthetic testosterone (from what I know/read), the reason that Braun had the suspension overturned was the fact that the collector didn’t ship it out to the testing labs in the right time frame. Wow.

What can we deduce from this?

1. The MLB hierarchy has every reason to be livid.

This should send the higher ups in MLB into a frenzy. While you have to be mad that the suspension was overturned, it’s a huge slap in the face that it got overturned because of a stupid technicality. According to an ESPN article, the MLB is “considering its options.” I really can’t think of any options that they might have that can directly punish Braun. From what I know, they can’t appeal the appeal, and they can’t slap a punishment on Braun without some other lapse of judgement from the man. At best, I can only really see him getting fined, and I’m not even sure that’s possible. Essentially, MLB lost this one.

2. Braun won this time…or did he?

Braun may have won the appeal, but how much did he really gain? Yeah, he gets to play in the first fifty games of the season where he might not’ve been able to play before. However, we’ve learned that Braun probably did use synthetic testosterone( from what’s been written and the fact that he hasn’t disputed this). He managed to exploit a protocol

Did Ryan Braun really help himself in the long run?

error, thus allowing him to escape the suspension according to a source. Was it all worth it?

In my opinion, a fifty game suspension and allegations about PED use really hurts. However, I think your reputation is hurt a lot more by beating the suspension just because someone made a technical error. Your image is hurt a lot more, especially since people will now remember that you beat the system for the first time. Essentially, you’re not guilty, but you’re still technically guilty. Braun in a statement said “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.” Did this really restore Braun’s reputation? Did he really get through this because he’s innocent? Again, Braun simply might’ve damaged his reputation by getting this appeal on his side. Dodging the suspension might’ve just lowered him even lower than he was before, especially since nothing was tampered with.

3. MLB’s drug testing policy may have had a problem, but the bigger problem was the leaked information.

Yes, we have found that the drug testing policy allowed a player to dodge a suspension apparently because of a simple delivery error. While the procedure simply had that error and not one that concerned tampering or the specific science of determining synthetic testosterone, it is imperative to say that MLB had a large error as well. Two sources leaked out to ESPN that Braun initially tested positive. That is apparently against policy. In fact, more and more information managed to leak from those familiar with the case.

That is simply unacceptable. With the kind of media era we are in and the fact that any PED use will get the fan’s hearts beating, this is an egregious error. You can’t have people thinking that Braun is a dead man walking without confirmation. You also can’t have people believe that he was innocent without that confirmation either. Simply put, the fact that Braun tested positive for PED’s and then won the appeal should’ve only be released today. It should only have been released by the MLBPA after Thursday’s appeal. It simply shouldn’t happen in the future, especially in today’s massive media era. The MLB should know that by now, and enforce the proper measures that this doesn’t happen again. Although this is easily overlooked, it’s still a big problem nonetheless for the reasons stated above.

4. MLB’s image is still tarnished.

Taking the viewpoint of the entire game and not the organization, MLB still took a big hit from Braun’s positive test, even without a suspension. Braun was obviously the NL MVP, but he’s also going to be the target of many headlines this year. Braun without the bat of Prince Fielder was going to be a major headline this year in my opinion. I can assure you that, at least in the first third of the season, 70% of the articles that focus on Braun will have a footnote about the appeal and the general positive test. Is that really the best thing for MLB? There’s also the fact that one of the league’s big stars took a PED. Imagine seeing a headline that stated that Aaron Rodgers or Kevin Durant took a PED. Again, seeing a star dim because of a PED is never good for the general view of a league.

Again, to sum it all up, Braun wiggled out of trouble but still tripped into another problem. From what’s been released, the situation might’ve gotten better right now for all parties involved, including the MLB, but different things will be written about this in the future. The ESPN story written about Braun is titled “Braun Wins.” Did he really?

Written by Teix4MVP

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24 responses

24 02 2012
gordon pearson

what i dont understand is how use supposedly know all the “facts” so definitively. I think there is still a lot out there that needs to be explained, and if anything is to be learned from the outcome of this appeal, it is that we should reserve our judgment.

24 02 2012
gordon pearson

….. uh …. “you” instead of “use” in the first line. …..

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

I think I made it clear that I believe all the information should’ve come out all at once, and only at that one instant. I’m basing my knowledge of what happened based on the knowledge that is out right now. I’m guilty of being one of those people that makes a conclusion without ALL of the facts out yet. However, what is out at the moment is this: Braun got out of the suspension not because he disputed the science or thought tampering was involved, but simply because he argued that there was a minor protocol error. I don’t know how else you would interpret that.

24 02 2012
Big Jim

How in the heck do you figure he won by a technicality? Seriously, if you took a drug test for your job and found out you failed, but in that process you learned that one of the Piss Cup Technicians took your cup of piss home and let it sit on the desk for 2 and a half days or in the supposed refrigerator for that period of time. You don’t call that fishy? Who in the heck knows what happened to that cup of piss, do you?!?! Remember your innocent until proven guilty folks. And a piss cup sitting in some dudes refrigerator or on a desk in his home for 2 and half days, not knowing what in the hell happened to it isn’t proof of anything other than MLB still doesn’t really give a crap about anything!

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

Again, in everything I’ve read about Braun’s appeal so far is the fact that Braun won because technically the chain of custody of the sample was broken. He did not argue that there was any tampering done. He merely argued that technically it could’ve been tampered with.

I recognize there is a fine line between “innocent” and “not guilty.” Where would you place Braun? It’s totally different for Braun to have argued that the sample was tampered with or that the science to determine his positive test wasn’t accurate. However, he won simply because of a technicality.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/ryan-braun-wins-appeal-will-not-be-suspended.html

Read that.

24 02 2012
Big Jim

Here’s where I stand….. There’s really no proof that he took anything. Here it is plain and simple. Neither you nor I or anybody else reading this really knows the truth. One can only assume, and everybody has their right to stupidity. And the fact is everybody else talking about it or writing about it hasn’t a damn clue either. And the only thing here that fires me up is people using technicality. Because in all fairness and honesty it isn’t. Nobody has even proved he took anything and here’s why. When you prove that the chain of custody was broken, and by that I mean some Piss Cup Technician took this cup of piss home. I mean the dude had it for all of 2 days at least. And for all we know the guy could’ve been a body building machine on roids that pissed in that cup or jerked his wank off in it. You don’t know and I don’t know. When you prove that the chain of custody is broken you have NO clue what happened to that piss sample. To me that says it certainly had a good chance of being tampered with. It’s as simple as that……

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

There’s certainly proof that what was Braun’s urine contained testosterone that was produced outside the body. The problem I have is that it is clearly questionable that Braun’s camp has NEVER questioned the positive test and has NEVER suggested that the urine was tampered with. They did rightfully question the chain of custody. You (crudely) suggested that tampering could’ve been done there. While I agree this was a possibility, the odds that this was tampered with are quite small. Either the holder of the urine tampered with it, or a group of ninja monkeys representing the Cardinals ran in and injected synthetic testosterone. Again, what’s the most likely situation?

24 02 2012
Big Jim

NICE! A group of ninja monkey’s representing the cardinals fan base! Hahaha I was toying with the idea that you might be a Cub’s fan or a FIB. But they aren’t that smart or funny! I did read something that was either in an article on JSonline or MLBtrade rumors where Braun said the test wasn’t right back when it first came out. Listen I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan of the Crew or Braun in general. There’s so many liars and cheats in the game anymore I’d love to believe this test was Bull Shit. And maybe it is a Bull Shit test and of course maybe it isn’t. There’s plenty of rumors such as tweets and stuff from players saying this wasn’t the first time this has happened! And you have C Narv saying this certainly was NOT the first time MLB has had issues with Piss samples in Milwaukee and in other cities. And Chris is a union rep, so what he is saying is probably true. With what I’ve read I would lean towards the test probably being Bull Shit. He’s been tested 28 times and one test was said to have 21 times the normal testosterone level. Which is unreal! And later that month when he learned of the positive test he took another test. Less than 4 weeks after a positive test. And that test had normal levels. Like I said before there’s plenty of proof that states the chain of custody was messed up! And to me that means it was probably been tampered with.

25 02 2012
Teix4MVP

I do like the Brewers as a ball club too, Jim. It’s probably because since I’m a Yankees fan. You tend to enjoy the smaller market teams because the Yankees spend money too often. I love the way that the Brewers managed to grow at least a large part of team with prospects, something the Yankees can’t seem to do.

However, let me put it to you this way: Narveson is a union rep, yes, but do you really think he would say anything that would support positive tests in the view of being favorable towards the players? I’m not automatically saying that he’s saying false things, though.

I understand Braun tested positive just once out of a large number of tests, but in all honesty one occasion of doing a PED could happen to any player if they slip in their judgement. Four weeks after learning that you have a positive test is plenty of time to get the testosterone out of his system.

Again, I think I failed to make it clear that a huge underlying problem is MLB’s media management. This should never have been released until today or yesterday. We shouldn’t be getting leaked knowledge as that severely effects our perception of things one way or the other.

24 02 2012
Tim

I think you go a little far in saying that we know that Braun used synthetic testosterone, the fact that his advisers decided it wasn’t even worth challenging the result is probative evidence of use, but it’s not proof.

That said, this is the first sensible thing I’ve read on the appeal. Every other source, including MLB.com (which is an utter embarrassment) is using the word “exonerated”, which is the furthest thing from the truth.

MLB needs to do a much better job keeping things confidential. If they were a law firm, they’d have no clients by now. While this isn’t as bad as leaking the identity of David Ortiz as one of the player who tested positive to trigger testing (when the testing was supposed to be anonymous), this renders the appeal process moot. The harm to the players is done — a player up for a free agent deal is going to face suspicion from other teams about his alleged history of doping, fans everywhere will boo Ryan Braun like there’s no tomorrow, writers will hold it against him when he comes up for the Hall of Fame. The suspension hurts the team.

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

Well the sources that initially spoke out about the suspension said that Braun tested positive for synthetic testosterone. More and more articles are citing a source that said he did indeed use it, and since Braun hasn’t directly disputed that claim, I used the word “know.”

24 02 2012
Ryan

Braun won the appeal and the MLB has to just deal with it. They put the third party into effect and he ruled in favor of the player this time. I’d be more pissed with the MLB if they go and try to still punish Braun as it would almost seem like a witch hunt to me. Now is not the time for the MLB to try to compare ball sizes with Braun (no steriod jokes needed)… Learn from this and fix the system.

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

While I agree that they shouldn’t try to pursue further action, I think that they have every right to be frenzied about this. They are trying to crack down on steroid use. The fact that they were going to suspend a star in the league, who was the NL MVP, showed that they are very serious. Now that the suspension has been escaped, what does that say?

24 02 2012
Jimbo

Your blog has a few incorrect facts. First of all, we have no idea if Braun is the first to successfully appeal a test. We only know that he is the first to publicly do so. It has been stated in many other sources that the protocol for a failed test is to go through the entire appeals process and only announce if the appeal is failed. Therefore, it can be assumed that Braun is not the only one, which is probably a huge part of the defense he was able to use, as Braun’s team should have been able to go on discovery and get access to this information. The fact that all of this has been leaked is what has MLB up in arms, not that he won the appeal. What would be very helpful to know is exactly how many appeals have won without knowing the names to further sully innocent players’ names so that a true assessment can be made about the legitimacy of MLB’s testing policy and procedure.

Secondly, from a legal standpoint there is no distinction between chain of custody violation and tampering. They are treated as the same. If chain of custody protocol is not followed, then tampering must be assumed. From the get go, the entire process seemed fishy. Braun supposedly takes a PED that elevates his testosterone to the highest levels ever recorded in any previous tests. He immediately follows that up with a second test that proves negative. Then we find out that he wins because protocols aren’t followed? The simple fact is that we should not know about any of this and Braun should have been allowed to go through the process as intended with a cleared name. Instead, he will always have this cloud of doubt hanging over his head all because MLB really screwed up on this one. I say we need to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. And I am a Card’s fan.

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

Um….no.

First off, it is completely untrue that there have been others before Braun who have successfully appealed a suspension in baseball. The matter is that the MLBPA announces the result of the appeal after the decision no matter what. I have no idea where you’re getting the “only announced when the appeal fails” thing from. Therefore, that entire first point is negated. Here’s one source proving that he’s the first to succeed: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/ryan-braun-wins-appeal-will-not-be-suspended.html
Here’s a second: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7608360/milwaukee-brewers-ryan-braun-wins-appeal-50-game-suspension

Let’s go to your second point. Braun never took a second urine test, as the announcement that he was suspended came after the playoffs. Braun’s camp also found out that when the urine sample was tested again, synthetic testosterone was found according to two sources in that ESPN article. I do agree that MLB screwed up, but we shouldn’t declare that Braun is innocent of the whole mess either.

24 02 2012
Jimbo

MLB’s policy is that an announcement of a failed test is made after the appeals process has been completed. If the player wins the appeal, no announcement is made for the exact reasons we are seeing here: so that no one’s reputation can be tarnished. So that fact that many sources are claiming that it is the first time a test has been overturned may or may not be accurate because we cannot know. More may be revealed after the arbitrator’s decision is made public.

On the second point, NY Times, ESPN, the Post, and pretty much every single news source says “Braun learned of the result in late October and insisted that the test was flawed. He took a second test, from an independent laboratory, that was said to have revealed normal testosterone levels.” (NY TIMES)

24 02 2012
Shane

furthermore, you can’t conclude anything from the fact that his legal team supposedly didn’t choose to argue he didn’t actual use steroids. the goal of the appeal process is to attain a finding of not guilty and thus win the appeal process. as a lawyer, it is often the case that you focus on a certain strategy to attempt to win the case. ignoring other avenues of argument does not mean they are conceded are you can conclude something from them. it could easily be, that having analyzed the evidence presented to them, Braun’s legal team believed the best way to challenge the finding was to challenge the chain of custody – which as an aside was clearly broken in this case – and it was also clearly the correct call as they succeeded.

24 02 2012
Teix4MVP

Well first off, he got accused of using synthetic testosterone. PED does not equal steroids.

I’d also like to state that while Braun’s side did win the appeals process, in no way did they win the entire issue. They escaped the suspension by proving a technicality error. I agree that it’s the right call to overturn the suspension because of this, but did we learn anything about Braun’s innocence? In no way, shape, or form has Braun’s camp ever debated that there was a problem with the actual testing process or that the sample was tampered with. Essentially, I was trying to say in this post that there were no answers given by Braun’s camp about the allegations about the actual use, but that they won by rightfully challenging a technicality.

24 02 2012
E

I see your point of view and agree with what you are trying to say. I have read some of the comments and can see where they are coming from.

I read the comment about the drug test for a job. The main problem with all this is that I have yet to see anything where Braun offered to re-take the drug test. If I take a drug test for my job and they say I failed. I will demand to re-take the test immediately, because I know that I am clean and it was an error. I do not know about you, but I have yet to see anything saying he offered to re-take the test or that he re-took the test. I did however see this, “Haudricourt says the appeal went Braun’s way not because of the test result, but because of a technicality with the testing process. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman and The New York Post’s Joel Sherman report that part of Braun’s argument was that the sample was not shipped in a timely fashion and that the chain of custody was broken for two days, meaning the sample was left unprotected (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/ryan-braun-wins-appeal-will-not-be-suspended.html).

Why not re-take the test, if he so “innocent”?

I do see a problem in the way the MLB drug testing is done. We all know that this is a business and a multibillion dollar one. Why not have the drug test done at a hospital or facility where the players can be tested and the test can be processed on site?

Because of this, he may not be elected into the hall of fame and good luck appealing that one.

24 02 2012
Jimbo

From the New York Times and others “Braun learned of the result in late October and insisted that the test was flawed. He took a second test, from an independent laboratory, that was said to have revealed normal testosterone levels.”

24 02 2012
E

Thanks Jimbo, because I did not know that.

25 02 2012
Teix4MVP

You guys need to understand that I am not anti-Braun in any way, shape, or form. I am a huge fan of Braun’s. Despite this, my view is simply influenced by the case as it has been presented to me.

Also, if you’ll take a moment to look at this outside of Braun, I think that MLB’s media policy is a huge problem as I stated in my third point. Again, it’s unacceptable to have this type of thing happen. That’s the biggest problem.

7 03 2012
calhounite

The written MLB protocal was not broken. The courier is supposed to make a reasonable effort to have the samples fed exed asap and otherwise store in a secure location until such time as can be shipped, with the stipulation that a car is unacceptable.

He made the effort. Was told couldn’t be fedexed until Monday. Whether this was true or not, counts as a reasonable effort. Also a reasonable expectation would be a national company like fed ex would have a uniform policy..

So storage. The protocal’s language, with the excusion of the car, is referring to “security” within what a average middle carrier would be capable of providing, No car, then abode. A good carrier would take note of why a car is stipulated as unaccceptable in the protocal (could be subject to extreme heat and coat), and thus choose maybe a cool basement office rather than a refrigerator. The guy did just that.

First thing Monday morning the guy shipped it out, which would be the first opportunity by the info he was given..

Expert testimony have stated these circumstances have no appreciable effect on the confidence that the sample was Braun’s (tamper-proof seals intact) or its viability for testing (all samples are tested for degradation in any case, and Braun’s passed).

Real world. Actual reality. This was Braun’s piss. It had the stuff he put there in it. Realistically Braun is not only a doper, but an inveterate, expert, slobbering maniac level doper. Skilled in undetectable doping until some event screwed up his cycling, masking, or expectation of being tested. First time even sniffed the playoffs perhaps. Why an average size guy all these years can take a swing that seems like it would dislocate every bone in one’s body, augment his power perormance as the season progresses, etc…This is called observe, learn, and with the test, confirm..

Lawyer reality. Braun has never touched the stuff BECAUSE he wallowed in it.
Lawyer reality is that the more something is suspected of having occurred, the more certain that it did not occur. That is the decision of what is true is made by an impartial panel, and which means they must be composed of turnips. Otherwise confirmation bias invalidates the verdict, or as they term it, a “rush to judgement”.

The arbitrator did his part. Turned into one that just fell off the trudk.

7 03 2012
calhounite

Ps

oh yeah, the DNA offer to test the piss. That’s a good one. Everyone knows that piss is mostly sterile, and a test would come back inconclusive or invalid. Heck, the lawyers know it because Braun’s most certainly did.

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