Ryan Braun should consider himself a lucky man.
During the offseason, the reigning National League MVP and Brewers’ outfielder was handed a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball after a urine sample collected during the early rounds of last year’s playoff race was found to have elevated levels of testosterone.
The ruling was overturned Thursday by an arbitrator who found evidence to support Braun’s claim of innocence.
But here’s where it gets hazy. The arbitrator did not discover why there were elevated levels of testosterone in the sample, nor did he find evidence that the sample wasn’t Braun’s.
Braun got off on what can only be considered a technicality.
The league’s drug policy states that after a sample is collected from a player, it must be shipped on the day that it was collected to the testing facility. According to multiple reports, Braun’s sample was collected Oct. 1, but didn’t get sent to the testing facility until Oct. 3.
The wheels of justice turned and, completely within the rules put forth by the league, Braun was cleared because league procedure was not followed.
Braun went on to make some interesting comments regarding the league and its drug testing policies when he addressed the media prior to the start of Brewers’ spring training.
Braun was bold enough to call the process “fatally flawed.” He added that the process was “opposite of the American judicial system.”
In today’s game, players that test positive for steroids are automatically assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. Whether it’s the judgment of fans or the media, a positive test can be devastating to a player’s career.
Braun seems to have the credibility to question the process as he was the first player in the history of baseball to have his suspension for elevated levels of testosterone overturned.
Braun took his aggression out on the league and the media for not giving him a fair chance to prove himself innocent.
And now he’s concerned that his reputation is tarnished.
His aggression is misplaced. Braun should be blaming the players that came before him that tested positive for steroids.
The 1990s was a decade that many consider to be a wash. After former home run kings Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire,
Barry Bonds and many others all tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, the whole era has been called into question.
Today’s players, whether they can accept it or not, will never get a chance at the fairness that Braun calls for in steroid testing. Anyone who witnessed the “Steroid Era,” as it has been termed, will always be skeptical of any baseball player that tests positive for steroids. Until the generation of baseball fans that witnessed the “Steroid Era” is gone, baseball players will always be under a microscope.
It’s great for Braun that he was cleared of his charges, but he’s in a no-win situation now.
If he doesn’t repeat his performance of last season, everyone will assume that it’s because he is no longer doing steroids.
If he does repeat his performance from last season, everyone will assume it’s because he was cleared of charges and is back on steroids.
It’s easy to sympathize with Braun. He seems to be a genuinely clean player that loves the game of baseball and was the victim of unfortunate circumstances.
But, whether it’s fair or not, until the public’s mind is cleared of the “Steroid Era,” the actions of the league’s early generation has cast a shadow over the present generation of players. And until they earn that trust back, Braun and the rest of the players in the league should just get used to the situation. Everyone is guilty until proven innocent.