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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.

  • TeddyBallGame

    Absolutely bull shit…will NOT be suspended?? He won the appeal by a 2-1 vote. 3 guys decide this?? I officially know Selig is a total dirtbag after this non-sense. Obviously the 3 on the panel are strongly influenced, but the first time a baseball player wins an appeal over PED’s is the reigning MVP for Selig’s Brewers?? Completely gives me a different opinion about how blatantly corrupt Selig is.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      You can’t blame Selig on this one.

      One member of the panel comes from the union: he voted for overturning the suspension.

      One member comes from MLB: he voted to uphold the suspension.

      The third vote is Sharym Das, the baseball arbitrator who has been arbitrating baseball since forever (or so it feels): he voted to overturn the suspension.

      • ty

        Let me think==Bud and daughter and Brewers==naw–that would not make any difference would it?

    • SaxevilleBob

      Sorry, but Selig is pissed about this too. This is a poorly designed testing process that lacks some of the basic aspects that it ought to have. Had it not been Braun, it would have happened with someone else eventually.

      • Bric

        Bob, I don’t recognize your name as ever posting here before. Tell me, Bob, what team to you root for? You may be a Cub fan that reads here all the time but never posts or you might just be a Brewer appolgist gloating and making the rounds on everybody else’s sights. A quick google search of “Saxeville” brings up Saxeville, Wisconsin. Go back to your own sights, no here buys it.

        • jr5

          Dude, come on. It’s not a Selig conspiracy. (And I do love me some Selig conspiracy theory.) It’s a lucky break for Braun. (Lucky in the sense that it was a winnable defense. Whether he was guilty or not, without this sort of possible defense, he had no chance of overturning an appeal. That’s probably why they focused more on this aspect than any other. I’m curious as to whether the initial reports that Braun’s test result was more than twice as high as any previous result; that spoke more to his innocence than the defense that actual won the appeal, but like I said, it may not have been the best actual defense to win the appeal. If that makes sense. Have to love legalese.)

          • Bric

            I’m not saying it was a Selig conspiracy, I’ve just never seen this guy post before and thought his defense of Braun was suspect. If you go over to ESPN and read their blog, it’s full of the Brewers fans defending the decision to the rest of the world. Apparently some of their fans are feeling the need to visit all of the other teams’ websites (or at least the Cubs’) and defend his innocence. If you truly believed the verdict, I’d imagine you’d just be happy and move on. But apparently not these guys. Maybe they feel guilty inside…

            • Joe

              Bah. Bric, who died and made you King of the Internets? If you can’t be open to having a viable conversation with people who disagree with you when the other party hasn’t said anything trollish, then I don’t see what’s so great about you. Rise above it, at least for a post or two, dude.

              • Bric

                Good point and my bad. I got a little high horsey but if you’re just gonna stop by to make a point and then move on to the next site you’re a troll. And I hate trolls. Responding was the mistake ’cause the guy’s probably moved on, never to be back.

                • Joe

                  I dig it. Really good response, man.

                  • Bric

                    Thanks bud, for reminding me there’s only one true king of the internet, and his name is Brett. And I agree, sometimes you need somebody else to tell you “Step back, bro… take a deep breath…”

  • K Rock

    Innocent until proven guilty……….Bad for Cubs, but good for baseball he is innocent

    • hardtop

      um, dude… not innocent, he got off on a technicality.  he’s guilty,but not punishable.  he may not have to serve the suspension but its far more likely than not that he was using banned substances.  this is actually bad for the cubs and bad for the game.  braun, and baseball, would have been served if he’s  just served the suspension.  now hes the guy who cheated but didnt have to “serve his time”  as opposed to the guy who cheated and took his punishment like a man.

      • TC

        Just because he argued a technicality does not mean he isn’t innocent. It’s simply a lot easier to win arguing that path than arguing the test itself. That’s how this system works, unfortunately

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Reports on Twitter that the arbitrator found in favor of Braun because the samples were not shipped to the testing facility in a timely manner.  That’s the only report of that nature I’ve seen so far, and also the only explanation for the overturning.

  • die hard

    Uhh…I seem to detect a wink-wink by MLB in making that last statement of protest. Otherwise, Congress will start up some more hearings.

    • DocWimsey

      So, if MLB actually did vehemently disagree with the decision, then they’d say, er, what exactly?

      • die hard

        Thats the point in that MLB doesnt want to see a MVP suspended but MLB would not dare say that. So, they pound their shoe on the table Kruschev style so as not to embarrass Congress for looking the other way. What MLB should do is demand a special investigator be appointed to see if any crimes were committed by Braun or Brewers. But then Congress would take notice.

  • ogyu

    I see it’s going to be tinfoil hat night on BN…

    • TWC

      Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean Bud Selig’s not out to get you.

      • Joe

        LMAO!

  • Papi

    I really hate the way that ESPN broke the news, the way the MLB handled it and mostly the way Braun reacted to the entire situation. I mean I always hated his cocky attitude ever since he broke into the bigs but now I dislike him even more-so than before

  • TWC

    Now I’m not saying I want the guy to get injured in Spring Training.  But if he did…

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    This officially opens the door for any player that test hot to use the Braun Defense. A really dangerous precident has been set by this ruling. With one panel member from the union, and one from the league, this basically came down to the decision of one person, which I disagree with. How about a full panel of independant members? 3 to 5 people?

    • SaxevilleBob

      You mean that dangerous “innocent until proven guilty” thing? If MLB lost on a technicality, then maybe they should focus on improving the test (and their confidentiality enforcement).

      • Brian

        It wasn’t the test itself, 2x the amount of testos. in his system. It was the handling,(shipping) of it, by some nitwit, who didn’t follow through with the job they were assigned. Now, if the powers that be didn’t really inform this transporter that the sample absolutely had to be at the distribution center that night, then more of the “process” is corrupt.

    • DocWimsey

      No, it came down to the decisions of two people.  We might just as well cast aspersions on the MLB vote: why not say that it was a knee-jerk “admitting that we screwed up makes us look bad” reaction by that member?

  • die hard

    Time again for Pete Rose to complain again about hypocrisy and he may have a case when considering he never bet against himself or team. Dont players gamble like ARod in Vegas? Dont players make bets all the time with each other? What happens in team’s kangaroo courts? What line did Rose cross? He didnt cheat the game like steroid abusers. Mark, Sammy, Raffi to name a few took something away from the game. Rose didnt do that. Did Braun try to cheat the game? Only he knows. Will this be enough to bar his entry to the HOF? How about from ever receiving a MVP. Voters have long memories.

    • BT

      Rose crossed the line that explicitly states if you bet on baseball you will be banned. He bet on baseball. He was banned (by the way, how can you possibly know he never bet against his team?). It could not be more cut and dried.

      • Desert Rat

        On the one hand, Pete Rose played hard, set records, and ought to be in the Hall of Fame. The fans deserve it. On the other hand, he was a gamblaholic scumbag who associated with criminals, and in no way should ever be considered for the Hall of Fame. I think I have the perfect solution: Put him in the Hall of Fame…. the day after he dies. Fans win, Pete Rose loses.

        • http://bleachernation ferris

          thats more than ridiculous,rose should be in the hall of fame now he’s more than paid his dues…besides what he did as a player and what he did as a manager are totally diff. they kicked him out of the game as a manager..he already lost he loved the game…you act like he killed someone…..how can you guys be so judgemental? How can you judge ppl by the ppl they know or are friends with,none of us have perfect friends or are perfect ourselves…pete rose didnt just play hard(charlie hustle) is an icon who after his playing days were done made a mistake.(far from being a scumbag)…….time to forgive geesh.

          • bt

            I’m not being judgmental. I’m following the exact rules that are printed in every clubhouse in every ballpark in every city. If you gamble on baseball you will be banned. Period. The rules don’t state if you gamble on baseball, but but don’t bet against your team it’s cool, and the rules don’t state that if you bet on baseball but tried really hard and got lots of hits when you played it’s cool, it says if you bet on baseball you are banned. Pete Rose knew this. He still may have been able to get out of it, but he not only lied about it, but was pretty much an ass about it for years, ruining his chances.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I’m glad he got off. I’ve always like him, in spite of how he handled the Jose Reyes thing. I hate steroid users, but if there is one flaw in the process that was negotiated in the CBA, the test can’t count. Period.

  • Diesel

    This is 10 pounds of monkey crap in a 5 pound bag.

  • Internet Random

    What a fucking joke.

  • ty

    Lab tests are always suspect. From the beginning at the time drawn,the phlebotomist,the transportation and storage of specimen, and finally the interpretation of samples. Not difficult to defend!

  • HR Trucker

    Shaddy shaddy. I’m having OJ Simpson flash backs “If the don’t fit you must acquit.”

  • Toosh

    As some of you might remember, I was one of those who suggested we consider Braun innocent until proven guilty. Our legal system is founded on that. Now, it would be nice to see some apologies directed toward Braun from those who were ready to throw him under the bus. I won’t hold my breath.

    • TWC

      He failed a drug test.  He was not convicted on a technicality.  I think it’s akin to the car thief who doesn’t get convicted because the cop failed to follow a procedure when identifying a stolen car.  He still stole the car, he just doesn’t got to jail for it.

      From the article linked above:

      “Someone familiar with the decision said the appeal went Braun’s way not so much on contesting the result of the test but the testing process itself. And it was arbitrator Shyam Das who decided to rule in favor on that technicality, making it a 2-1 decision by the three-man panel. …

      A source familiar with MLB’s drug policy indicated there were only a few ways to overturn a positive test, such as proving a chain-of-custody issue, a flaw in the collection process or providing proof that the player’s team signed off on the substance.”

      • TC

        He got off on the technicality because its just a lot easier to argue that kind of case. It doesn’t prove him guilty because he got off on “just” a technicality, it just never got to that point in the process to argue the test itself.

        And if the quote you cited is correct, it sounds like it wasn’t even possible for him to argue the test itself, regardless of whether or not that was a valid argument.

        • TWC

          “It doesn’t prove him guilty because he got off on “just” a technicality…”

          You’re absolutely correct.  It also doesn’t prove him innocent.

          • Bric

            The problem with this whole picture is that lawyers (sorry Brett), unions, and journalists (sorry again, Brett) got involved. In most companies if you fail a drug test once you get some type of recourse usually involving counseling, a short suspension, and move on. The issue isn’t whether he’s guilty or not (he probably is), the problem is who he is.

            Just like Casey Anthony will always be known as that psycho who killed her own daughter, Braun is going to be known as the cheater. People won’t forget, and the Brewers are a dead ship in the water. He would’ve been better off just saying he did it (whether he really did or not). Most people will forgive, but they won’t forget, especially if think you got away with something.

            This dude’s cred’s gone, and the Brewers just became public enemy number one in the court of public opinion. They’re done. This thing will hang like a black cloud around the team for the next couple of years. And that’s fine by me because i can’t stand that team or their fans anyway. The most thankful guy around is Lebrun James because sports fans just found a new guy to hate.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              No need to apologize to me. I’m currently neither a lawyer, nor a journalist.

              • Bric

                No sir- you are THEEE journalist!

            • Internet Random

              The system has to be set up to protect the falsely accused, because it does happen. And it’s a far worse tragedy to punish the innocent than to let the guilty off scot-free.

              The person who screwed up the chain of custody should be tarred and feathered… after a fair hearing of course.

              I think that the chances that Braun is innocent are right down there with the chances that my forks and spoons will turn into singing unicorns tomorrow. Sure, both are possible… but from what I’ve gathered about reality, neither is likely.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                You’ve been missed, IR. Great stuff.

              • Katie

                Hi IR! I agree with Brett, you’ve been missed!

              • Internet Random

                Thanks, guys. I’m still reading every article, I’ve just cut back on the commentary. BN accounts for about 95% of the Cubs news that I get.

                • Katie

                  As well it should!

                • Internet Random

                  Word.

  • KidCubbie

    Im as big a Cubs fan as anyone on here. With that said while this does hurt our season a little bit I, for one, am glad that Braun was found innocent. Not saying that he was or was not guilty but I dont think that Braun is some roided up dude putting up big numbers. Like he said he has passed many many test before. And if the Cubs happen to win the division this year they can say they did it without the help of a Braun 50 game suspension.

  • ty

    o.k. Toosh–So Jose Baez wins another!

  • RickCom

    I guess Selig has some pull

    • DocWimsey

      MLB probably did have some pull: even if there was a video of someone faking Braun’s result, then the MLB representative (probably) would have voted “guilty.”

  • die hard

    Zero tolerance is an interesting concept. MLB has proof he took a steroid substance of some sort. He does not deny it but only denies knowing it or substance was not within perview of rules? If thats his position then what is zero tolerance?

  • Leon’s Gatorade soaked mitt

    Yeah, Bud Selig is all broken up about it. Why have rules about PED’s. It’s a joke.

  • Cubsten

    Just thinking. Based on the math flying around last night on here. If judge 1 and 2 voted in favor of Braun and judge 3 against then that’s an average of 1.5 for and 3 against. So he loses the appeal right?

    Sorry I couldn’t resist.

  • Evolution

    I may be in the minority here, but…I’m not sure every ruling that seems out of the ordinary has to be classified as “a joke”.

    Ryan Braun may play for the opposition, but I’ve never heard anything horrible about him. His greatest offense has been wrecking a couple of our fastballs.

    What if this was a genuine mistake? What if he took a med, and genuinely didn’t know it had a PED in it? I absolutely and completely believe in the need for an athlete’s motivations and actions to be pure. I don’t believe that Pete Rose should be in the HOF. And…I think it’s incumbent upon every athlete to know what they’ve put in their body.

    Still…what if he was pure? What if he made a mistake in understanding, and not in judgement? What if he was genuinely innocent of intent?

    What then?

    In a court…we look for reasonable doubt. This may not be a traditional court, but they are outside mediators.

    I can live with their ruling.

    • ogyu

      You’re being far too rational and level-headed for this site. Your tinfoil hat obviously needs adjustment.

      • Evolution

        If I move it any further, I can’t pick up the SETI transmissions…or Nickelodeon.

  • die hard

    Wonder what Aaron Rodgers knows and when did he know it? These guys are best friends. Was Rodgers subpoenaed to testify? If so did he plead 5th? I can see this spilling over into other areas that neither MLB nor NFL execs wanted to happen if there is a connection. So, just sweep the whole matter under the rug is the approach to expect and that was taken. Why is anyone surprised. Now, if instead of Braun it was some Class A never will be ball player how long would it have taken to bury his butt? They would have hung him before finding him guilty ala Judge Roy Bean.

  • brittney

    So with this does it mean he WAS positive for a banned substance? And he got off scott freethe guy thought the federal building was closed on a Saturday (I would think the same as well) and he delivered it on a Monday. All because of the day of delivery? I understand chain of custody being criminology student. But Braun should still face some type of punishment anyways. Now I REALLY dislike Selig, the brewers, and the 3 person panel (it should be a larger panel that decides anyways). This bugs me even more than the Theo comp results! If they’re going to test for PED’s then get the crap right. Anybody that’s tested positive should be stripped of awards and records including mcguire, bonds, sosa, palmerio ect…

  • ogyu

    I hear Oliver Stone’s already planning a movie about this…

  • AJ

    Look at the positive side off all this. Braun will have to play clean this year. Even someone stupid enough to reside in Wisconsin wouldn’t continue to juice after being caught. Let’s look for 265 average 18 Hrs and 82 rbi’s.

    • ogyu

      Yea, because Ryan really starts with a B. Good thing you’re not stupid enough to reside in Wisconsin. (Nice retroactive edit. Gee, maybe somebody did something like that to Braun’s test results?)

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      wow this is what i dont wanna see cub fans saying or acting like,,we had a bonafide cheat on our team for a long time this kid did nothing wrong,why get punished if youve never done wrong before and this was a trace of something……your on here acting like he was a juice head……if his numbers go down itll be because ramerez not fielder will be his protection…look more like a 300-28-95 season .and still very good def……

      • Joe

        Ouch. The truth hurts — we never talk about our own slammin’ sinner in the context of this stuff, do we? *hangs head*

        • Slobberknocker

          Sammy Sosa is a saint

  • Spencer

    Chain of custody rules are just as important as the exclusionary rule is to the 4th Amendment. Unfortunate that he won’t be suspended, but rules are rules. Hopefully this type of mistake doesn’t happen again and people that fail drug tests in the future will be appropriately punished.

    • ogyu

      The reason why evidence is excluded when the chain of custody is broken is because, in that situation, the evidence no longer has probative value. And if the evidence has no probative value, then there is no factual basis for saying that the guy failed a drug test. Maybe he cheated and got off because some bonehead screwed up the chain of custody, or maybe he got falsely accused because the sample with the bizzaro testosterone levels was contaminated or was not really his sample. In the absence of probative evidence, there is no way to know. … But don’t let that stop everyone from squawking about how they know with certainty all the many conspiracies at work here.

    • Joe

      Spencer – Best Post Ever on this topic.

  • CubsWin

    With the almost non-existent details we’re provided on this, I think it’s only fair that we give Braun the benefit of the doubt. It’s not like we were provided any details at all in which to judge him harshly.

    I understand he plays for a team in the Cub’s division, but I for one hope that he was being honest, and based on the outcome of the arbitration will have to assume that he was. We can throw all the unfounded accusations around that we want, but the fact of the matter is all we can do is speculate. That being the case, why not hope for the best in that person?

    • Spencer

      What? He didn’t argue that the test was bogus, or that there was tampering, or dispute the science. He only argued that improper procedures were used in delivering the sample. There’s no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt; he failed a drug test and got off on a technicality. The technicalities are important and are there for a reason, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a cheater and failed a drug test.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    why are so many eager to get him..he has no history of any kind of use or abuse,he’s a classy kid mlb needs more like him….the tests are flawed,there are traces of banned substances in daily use items……again i remember when fracois botha was stripped of the true heavyweight title(do you all know how rare that title is)? because he got a cortizone shot in his broken hand during training(which had a trace of banned substance in it)……this man was robbed an he never won that title again…….the point is the system is better but not perfect……bonds never got in trouble and we all know he did it,yet he was able to continue to chase the most prestegious record in baseball……..so why dog this kid…lets be honest 95% of us wish he was manning left field for our cubbies……im glad he got off,it woulda been ashame to see this kinda thing strip this kid of what he worked hard to get…m2c.

    • DocWimsey

      duh… he’s a BREWER!  :-)

    • Brian

      You might be a little high on your 95% wish statement.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    its simple if it walks like a duck an quacks like a duck its a duck…….right? braun doesnt fit the bill(pardon the pun) sosa…bonds..mcguire..canseco………quack quack quack quack….im jus sayin

    • Bric

      C’mon Ferris, Brewers Do quack. I’ve pound a few six packs of Ole Mil’ in my day and I know I do (usually around 3:00 o’clock in the morning).

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