Braun’s successful appeal still hurts
On Friday, Feb. 23, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun entered the Major League Baseball history books. The reigning National League (NL) MVP is bound to find his name on all-time lists when his career is over; however, his most recent feat is not one he will likely boast about.
Braun, who was recently charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and was facing a 50-game suspension, won his appeal to the MLB. Braun is the first player to win an appeal of alleged PED use.
After the successful appeal of the drug test, Braun held a press conference at which he gave thanks to teammates, other players, and the Brewers’ coaching staff. He then laid out the story of his failed drug test, hitting each point of his defense in chronological order.
Braun explained how his chaperone, Dino Laurenzi Jr., failed to mail his urine sample to the MLB laboratory the day it was provided and waited two days to send it, despite the numerous FedEx centers that were open. He also argued how the drug test results were suspect, given that the test showed three times more PED content than any other test that has ever been conducted in the MLB, suggesting that the test was inaccurate. He even mentioned all of his previously passed tests and the respect he has for his work.
Frankly, I believe him. He does not look like an abuser of PEDs. His biceps are not bulging out of his jersey, his head has not grown in Barry Bonds fashion, and his forehead isn’t covered in acne — all common symptoms of steroid users.
The numbers he put up last season, while impressive and NL MVP-worthy, were not so gaudy as to question what he put in his body. Thirty-three home runs does not scream steroid user like retired St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire’s 70 home runs in 1998. With all of the media surrounding PEDs in MLB and the recent charges against Oakland Athletics designated hitter Manny Ramirez, Braun would be stupid to abuse banned drugs, especially given the success he already had as a ballplayer.
“As players, we are held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everyone else associated with that program should be held to the same standard,” Braun said at his press conference. “We are a part of a process where you are 100 percent guilty until proven innocent.”
Although he won, Braun has lost face with baseball’s fans in the grand scheme of things. His name will forever be linked to steroids, even though his appeal was granted. His name is tarnished, even though he may not have taken a single PED. “My name has been dragged through the mud,” he said.
He is absolutely right, and that mud will stick for a long time. The healing process will be lengthy. The Brewers won, but Braun’s victory comes with baggage. His image is tainted by skepticism, as we will never truly know his innocence or guilt in this matter.