“Today is for everybody who has ever been wrongly accused,” he said Friday at a news conference at the Brewers’ training facility in Maryvale, Ariz.
“The simple truth is that I’m innocent,” the outfielder said, with his teammates sitting in the stands in uniform behind him. “The truth is always relevant and the truth prevailed.”
Braun tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, and ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” revealed the positive test in December. His case marks the first time a baseball player has successfully challenged a drug-related penalty in a grievance.
But Braun said at the time and reiterated Friday that he had not taken a banned substance resulting in the positive test result.
“If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say I did it,” Braun said. “I would bet my life this substance never entered my body.”
“I’ve lived this nightmare every day for the last four months,” added Braun, the 2011 National League MVP. “At the end of the day, the truth prevailed. I’m the victim of a process that completely broke down.”
Braun, thanking his team, teammates and fans who backed him, said baseball players are “part of a process where you’re 100 percent guilty until proven innocent.”
“We need to make sure that we get it right,” he added. “Today is about making sure this never happens to anybody else who plays this game.”
Although MLB officials would not comment on the record, sources told ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson they are still convinced that the sample tested came from Braun, and that the positive test result was correct. They emphasized that the FedEx package that arrived in the Montreal laboratory was sealed three times with tamper-proof seals — one on the box, one on a plastic bag inside the box, and again on the vial that contained the urine.
The truth is always relevant and the truth prevailed.
— Ryan Braun
The lab chief, an MLB source told Munson, testified that the urine was not tainted, that it was appropriate for testing, and that it tested positive for testosterone. The baseball officials, sources said, were incensed that Braun, his attorneys and the union successfully attacked the integrity of a collection procedure that is a “joint” procedure.
The word “joint” in this context means that the union and the league agreed to the procedure, made a mutual decision to hire the collection agency and were both obligated to abide by the results. Any failure to follow the joint procedure, the league officials assert, is a “technicality” and had no effect on the integrity of the sample or the results of the test.
Friday, Braun detailed how the urine sample he provided on Oct. 1, the day the Brewers opened the playoffs, was not delivered to Federal Express until Oct. 3. Baseball’s drug agreement calls for samples to be delivered to FedEx on the same day they are collected.
Braun said because of the delay, the testing was “fatally flawed.”
“I don’t honestly know what happened to it in that 44-hour period,” he said.
In his appeal, Braun didn’t argue evidence of tampering and didn’t dispute the science, but argued protocol had not been followed. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn that Braun questioned the chain of custody and collection procedure.
MLB officials argued that there was no question about the chain of custody or the integrity of the sample, and that Braun’s representatives did not argue that the test itself was faulty.
But multiple sources said the sample was not shipped for testing as soon as possible, as required by the drug testing policy, and instead was kept in a cool place in the sample collector’s home. Sources told Munson that the collector left Braun’s sample on a desk in a Tupperware container and left it there for two days.
Sources also told Munson that there was doubt over whose urine was actually being tested. Braun offered to take a DNA test to confirm whose urine was in the sample, but Major League Baseball declined. However, an MLB source told ESPN’s Mike Golic that Braun’s side backed off of the offer to take a DNA test.
Braun arrived at Milwaukee’s facility Friday morning, walking through the complex’s front doors to avoid reporters and camera crews waiting in back at the clubhouse entrance. Braun kissed his girlfriend before joining his teammates.
Braun first met with manager Ron Roenicke, who suggested that the star outfielder also meet privately with Milwaukee’s players.
“He’s been talking to me all winter, so we know what’s going on,” Roenicke said. “But they needed to hear it. With the outcome of it, I don’t think he needed to explain anything, but I think he wanted to and the players probably appreciated it, so I thought it was great.”
Thursday, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management disagreed with the decision by Das.
“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,” Manfred said. “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.”
Information from ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, ESPN enterprise unit investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Braun: ‘Truth was on my side’ in test appeal
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