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Ryan Braun’s test results shouldn’t be negated by technicality

Courtesy of MCT

Back to square one.

MLB might not feel that way, but some of its fans certainly do.

Reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun was suspended for 50 games this upcoming season after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in October. The suspension was overturned last week, because a part-time nurse didn’t know FedEx’s schedule and let Braun’s urine sit on a desk for a couple days.

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 on Oct. 1, but didn’t get sent to the testing facility until Oct. 3.

Good to know the MLB puts such competent people in charge of a matter they’ve put so much time, money and effort into.

Braun held a press conference Friday and seemed strangely calm and somewhat uncomfortable.

After being accused of breaking baseball’s most sacred rule, he didn’t come out sounding like a guy who was at all offended about such a heinous mistake.

“If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say I did it,” Braun said.

Of course you would have, Ryan. Of course you would have.

It’s been nearly 14 years since the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run race, one of the most remarkable individual battles in the history of sports. Three years later, the nation watched Barry Bonds send 73 balls over the fence to set a single season home run record that still stands today.

The achievements of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds soon became notorious because of alleged steroid use, launching MLB’s battle on steroids for much of the 21st century’s first decade.

To this point, baseball has done an admirable job of eliminating banned substances from the game. Three months ago, it seemed as though the tarnished reputation of America’s pastime had finally polished itself back to a reputable sport with honest players.

Then Ryan Braun’s pee sat on a desk for a couple days too long. Back to the drawing board, Bud Selig.

Braun can claim his innocence until the world ends. The fact remains that his urine tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. He cheated the fans, the league and himself. He made shameful decisions that affected baseball’s history.

If Braun plays the game honestly, maybe the St. Louis Cardinals don’t win the World Series. Maybe Braun’s Brewers don’t win the NL Central crown. And maybe the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp gets the MVP trophy that Braun didn’t really earn.

Unfortunately we’ll never see the honor of being named 2011’s most influential player in the National League given to someone who earned the title honestly.

What we do know is this: Braun’s MVP trophy will sit on the same disgraceful mantle in fans’ minds as Sosa’s ’98 MVP award, McGwire’s three Silver Slugger awards and Bond’s all-time single season home run record.

So admire that trophy, Ryan — you’re the only one who thinks you’re sincerely deserving of it.

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