Monday, December 12, 2011

Ryan Braun's positive test

Last month, Ryan Braun was hailed as the NL MVP.
Now, he's labeled a steroid user.
Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, was reported Saturday to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The Milwaukee outfielder is said to have tested positive in a sample taken during the playoffs in October. He disputed the findings and the case is wending its way through the appeals process, which is likely to reach a conclusion next month — well before spring training, much less the season. There's no rush here. Or shouldn't be.

So why was the test result prematurely leaked, and by whom?

Likely not by Braun's camp; he gains nothing from the release of this information. His reputation has now been damaged; even if the appeals process rules in his favor, he's now been publicly connected with steroid use.

I'm guessing it came from somebody involved in the testing process who either (a) feared that baseball would cover up the finding or (b) realized that there is a legitimate chance that the finding is invalid and the case overturned and wanted to muddy the waters.

If (a), there was no need to leak the info now; waiting for the conclusion of the process wouldn't affect a single game. If indeed MLB would hide the positive result because it's an important player, expose them after they've done it. Doing it now is silly.

If (b), it speaks ill of the professionalism of the people involved in the testing process. And I think it's (b).

I'm in no position to judge the quality of the lab work or the validity of the conclusions. I do think that when there's a specific, quasi-legal process in place to handle a positive test, that process should be followed. It's already been violated here.

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