Ryan Braun: MLB drug-testing process 'fatally flawed'

Feb 24, 2012

PHOENIX - Ryan Braun, the National League's MVP, said that Major League Baseball's drug-testing process is fatally flawed, and is threatening legal action, after a positive drug test nearly resulted in a 50-game suspension.

Braun, in a 25-minute press conference after talking privately with his Milwaukee Brewers' teammates, insisted that he has been clean throughout his professional career, and vehemently denied that he has ever taken banned substances.

"The program, as it applied to me,'' Braun said, "was fatally flawed. I've certainly been frustrated by the process. I've felt it's been unfair.

"Are there changes that should be made? I believe, yes. ...

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"Today's about making sure this never happens again to anybody else who plays this game.''

Braun said that he submitted a urine sample at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 1, after the Brewers' 4-1 playoff victory in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The drug-testing collector, who administered the test, is required under the guidelines to immediately ship the test from a Federal Express to MLB's laboratory in Montreal. Yet, the official apparently thought that the Fed Ex offices were closed until Monday. Braun said that his legal team discovered that five Fed Ex offices were open until 9 p.m., including one that was open 24 hours. The test was not sent out until 1:30 p.m. Monday, Braun said, providing ample time for the sample to be tampered.

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"As players, we're held to a standard of 100% perfection regarding the program,'' Braun said, "and everybody associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We're a part of a process where we're 100% guilty until proven innocent. If we're held to that standard, it's only fair that everybody else is held to that exact same standard."

The Brewers say they questioned the procedure during the season, and found flaws when the tests were administered.

"We want drug-testing,'' Brewers player-representative Chris Narveson said, "but we just want it done right. Sometimes, there are errors. It takes just one administrator to mess it up.

"Errors happen, but no one knows what happens if a guy takes a urine sample and has it sitting around his house for 48 hours. There's too much access to it. … If somebody has this in their possession for 48 hours, somebody may have a different agenda. I wouldn't' want somebody holding onto my sample for 48 hours.''

Braun said that he didn't want to falsely accuse the administrator, but hinted at legal action against those involved in the procedure as well as ESPN, which originally broke the story that Braun tested positive for a tainted substance.

"I did not do this,'' Braun said. "If I had done this intentionally, or unintentionally,'' Braun said, "I'd be the first one to stand up and say I did it. …I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point.''

Braun, who told USA TODAY in December that the positive drug test was "B.S.,'' remained quiet throughout the appeal process. Yet, it was the most painful time of his life, he said, never having the opportunity to savor his MVP award.

"I've always had tremendous respect for the game of baseball,'' Braun said, "and part of the reason I stayed quiet was to put the best interest of the game ahead of the best interest of myself. It hasn't been easy. There were a lot of times when I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, and attack everybody like I've been attacked, as my name was dragged through the mud. As everything I've ever worked for in my entire life has been called into question.

"There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, but at the end of the day, I recognized what's actually best for the game of baseball and I put that ahead what is actually best for myself.''

Braun, who won his appeal Thursday, drove seven hours from Los Angeles with his girlfriend, and arrived at the Brewers' spring-training facility at 9:30 a.m. He addressed his teammates for about 20 minutes, thanking them for his support, and telling them that he was innocent.

"It showed the character of the man,'' said Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan. "He wasn't emotional, but it was heartfelt. He was more pumped up than anything that we had his support.

"Really, by him being here now, it feels like Christmas around here.''

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who only saw Braun once this winter during the BBWAA banquet in New York when Braun received his MVP trophy, said it was important that Braun addressed his teammates. Roenicke and the coaching staff left the room, he said, to permit Braun to be only with his teammates.

"They needed to hear it,'' Roenicke said. "I think it was important to them, and also to Ryan. Anytime one of your leaders is questioned a little bit, thing change.

"His character was in question of the winter, and I don't think it'll be questioned again.''

Braun, who said that he learned Oct. 19 that he failed his drug test, immediately requested to be re-tested. It was clean, according to his representatives, but the decision stood. He immediately appealed, and questioned the drug process, particularly the collector who delayed shipping the urine sample.

"I've always stood up for what is right,'' Braun said. "Today is about everybody who's been wrongly accused, and everybody who has had to stand up for what is actually right.

"Today isn't about me. It isn't about one player. It's about all players. It's about all current players, all future players, and everybody who's played the game of baseball.

"This is my livelihood. This is my integrity. This is my character. This is everything that I've worked for in my entire life being called into question.

"We need to make sure we get it right.''

Braun also lashed out at different segments of the media for declaring him guilty before he had a chance to prove his innocence. He also ridiculed reports that his testosterone was elevated to alarming levels since he was being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.

"There's never been a personal medial issue,'' Braun said. "I've never had an STD. Many of the stories that were erroneously reported by the initial network (ESPN) continues to live on. It's sad and disappointing that this has become a PR battle and that people continue to leak information that's inaccurate.

"We won because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed.''


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