Well, it’s never happened before, so why not have the first time be a reigning MVP and poster boy for clean play?
Today a three-person arbitration panel voted 2-1 in favor of Ryan Braun, who was appealing a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. No MLB player before has successfully appealed a banned-substance suspension.
The victory, which, according to Tom Haudricourt, came on the strength of a technical flaw in the testing process, apparently upset MLB quite a bit. A statement on the decision from MLB VP Rob Manfred, who was on the panel together with MLBPA Director Michael Weiner and independent arbitrator Shyam Das:
“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.
“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”
We’ll probably never know the whole story, but, in any case, Braun will now be with the Brewers for the entirety of the 2012 season.
Braun also released a statement on the decision. In part, it reads:
“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.
“We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.
“I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.
“I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.
UPDATE: Karl Ravech reports that the “technicality” on which Braun won is as follows – a courier, who was supposed to deliver a positive test (already packaged up) to a Federal Express building on a Saturday evening, decided to wait until Monday morning to make his delivery, believing that the building might be closed. So, it’s a chain of custody thing. Chain of custody rules exist for a reason, and they are legit. I leave it to you, however, to evaluate whether that means Braun did or didn’t test positive.