|Questions Abound in Braun Case||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on February 25, 2012
I'm not sure what to make of the overturning of Ryan Braun's suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Nor, really does anyone.
The suspension seems to have been overturned on a rather flimsy technicality, despite the fact that the tester seems to have followed all the correct procedures using the standards applied by every major anti-doping testing organization in the world when it comes to shipping a sample.
While no doubt Braun is relieved, such a ruling challenges the validity of each and every drug test, past and future. If an arbiter can rule that a test result is invalid, based not upon science, but upon the fact that he doesn't like the way the sample was handled -- when it appears to have been handled to the letter of the procedure laid out by MLB and agreed to by the players in the CBA -- the whole system is in jeopardy. It challenges the integrity of the testers, the labs and the shipping policy -- despite the fact that neither MLB nor the MLBPA agreed to a chain of custody for samples that was as strict as that used by law enforcement in this country.
So Braun walks free, without arguing that the sample was tainted, but by merely challenging the chain of custody -- despite no evidence that any tampering had occurred. With the ruling MLB and its drug policy have been set back yet again. That explains why Major League Baseball officials were irate over the decision and were at least paying lip service to challenging the arbitrator's ruling.
Yet at least MLB has been quick to attempt to address the issue of the handling of samples for the future by making sure that all samples are sent same day by FedEx from now on. No doubt that will lead to challenges of FedEx's handling of packages by the attorneys of the next big name athlete whose sample tested positive for PEDs.
And while Braun calls this the first step in restoring his good name, it leaves us wondering just why did his test come back positive? And why didn't his legal team challenge the validity of the test? Could it be that they couldn't argue against the science, despite having more than enough financial backing to hire their own expert witnesses?
It leaves us with more questions than answers. Was justice done or purchased in this case? Did Braun and his high-priced legal team get a consideration that lesser known players and regular people never get? Did he get off on a loophole? Or due to a real issue?
Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for Braun and his skills and by all accounts he's a great guy, but I have a hard time believing that someone went and tampered with the sample that tested positive before it got to the Olympic testing program up in Montreal. And I know I'm not alone in that.
So how do we view Ryan Braun from now on? Only the fans can be the final judge, but at the moment there are a lot of people whose minds are undecided and may be for a long time to come.