Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ryan Braun, it's almost spring training. Do you know where your suspension is?

Baseball's drug testing procedure is supposed to be confidential, and it usually is. Nobody outside the process is supposed to know about a player testing positive (which is a negative) until the ruling comes down, and even then the specifics aren't revealed.

Ryan Braun in a happy moment
last September.
The Ryan Braun case has been anything but confidential. We learned, via leak, back in early December that the 2011 National League MVP had been tested during the postseason and found to have an "insane" testosterone level.

I regarded the leak itself as odd enough to be suspicious, raising the possibility that someone involved in the testing realized the result may be flawed and decided to muddy the waters by making it difficult for the appeals panel to toss out the result.

Braun had his appeal hearing last month. Normally there's a 25-day window for the panel to rule; in this case, it's been more than a month.

Maybe it's an innocent delay. Maybe, since there are no games, and Braun isn't even required to be in camp until Friday, the panel has seen no urgency in issuing its ruling. I would think, however, that if it were a cut-and-dried result, there'd be no cause to drag it out. Issue the suspension and get on with life.

Or maybe Braun has a legitimate case, and the panel is trying to find a way to exonerate an innocent man without damaging the credibility of the testing process. If that is the case, of course, the damage will have been done not by the appeals panel but by the leaker of a faulty result.


  1. No matter what the outcome, they have a huge PR problem. The suspension is a given, but how do you deal with the MVP award?

    If they decide to overturn the suspension they have to explain how the problem occurred to protect the credibility of testing. The drug test is clearly not completely accurate.

    If you recall, when the players association was pilloried for opposing testing their argument against it was that it wasn't reliable. If Braun is exonerated it will seem to have proven their point. I think a lot of people will doubt that lesser players, not to mention minor league players, with the same results will get the same consideration.

    As for the leak, it could just as well have been leaked by someone trying to pressure the panel into overturning the result. Afterall, if your goal was to see the test affirmed, why would you suggest that the result was out of the ordinary?

  2. A very sad day for baseball. Sometimes cheaters do win.