Ryan Braun doping suspension dropped
In an unprecednted case for major-league baseball involving the sport's oft-criticized eight-year-old drug testing program, National League MVP Ryan Braun has seen his 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs revoked. The news was reported by Brewers' beat reporter Tom Haudricourt in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and confirmed in a mutual announcement by the commissioner's office and the union.
Braun had tested positive for what was termed "insanely high levels of testosterone" some time at the start of baseball's playoffs last October. The news of the positive result and the impending 50-game suspension had been leaked prior to the new year and speculation was rampant that Milwaukee would be without it's best player for the first third of the season.
Braun had immediately reacted with denials when the results came out, claiming he would be found innocent of the allegations. Defended by the players' union, they hired a high profile defence lawyer, David Cornwell who appealed the decision before a three-man arbitration panel on January 19-20. Even though announcements are never made under normal circumstances, it is beliecved that players had been winless in 12 hearings relating to positive drug tests. Braun will report to Brewers camp on Friday.
The decision was reportedly split 2-1, with the chairman of the abritration panel, Shyam Das casting the deciding vote in favour of Braun. The other members of the panel were Michael Weiner, director of the players' association and Rob Manfred from MLB. There's a good guess as to how that voting went.
Haudricourt's blog in the Milwaukee paper suggests that the appeal was one on a technicality, rather than disputing any readings, but that will not be a part of the announcement. There had been controversy on whether Braun should be asked to return his MVP trophy if found guilty, with runnerup Matt Kemp being handed the award, but Kemp already said that he would not want it that way.
The result is great news for Commissioner Bud Selig and the game's harshly critiqued drug-testing program. It has proved that baseball is willing to announce positive tests by even its biggest stars, no matter the cost in negative publicity and it has already passed a message on to many of the game's impressonable young players that if it can happen to Ryan Braun, I had better stay away from any attempts at cheating the game.
If anyone suggests that it is the game policing itself, that would be questioning the integrity of the arbitration process, negotiated through collective bargaining and the integrity of the arbitrator Mr. Das. Normally such a decision would not be announced under terms of the testing agreement in the CBA, but this was a special circumstance and both sides agree to it.