MARYVALE, AZ (WSAU) Ryan Braun will report to the Milwaukee Brewers’ Spring Training camp today, and will hold a news conference to talk more about the reversal of his positive drug test. Shyam Das cast the deciding vote, when an arbitration panel voted 2-to-1 to accept the appeal of a drug test from the National League M-V-P last October. It was the first such reversal in Major League history.
Braun’s test reportedly showed excessive levels of testosterone from taking a banned substance that was never disclosed. Braun said he never did it, and he called the arbitrators’ decision quote, “the first step in restoring my good name and reputation.” The 28-year-old Braun avoided a 50-game suspension which would taken effect on Opening Day, and could have hurt the Brewers’ chances of repeating as the National League Central Division champions. According to the Journal Sentinel, it all came down to the way Braun’s urine sample was handled after it was taken. The paper said the person who collected the sample did not ship it right away to baseball’s testing lab in Montreal, assuming the Fed-Ex office was closed for the day. So the sample stayed in the person’s refrigerator for two days – and that raised questions over whether it was adequately safeguarded. Braun’s side reportedly argued that the sample could have been tainted – and by then, there was not even enough proof that it was actually his.
Das apparently decided there was room for error in the sample’s chain-of-custody. But Major League Baseball vehemently disagreed, and a statement basically said Braun got off on a technicality. Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio took issue with that, saying last night that Braun is quote, “a model citizen and a person of character and integrity.” Attanasio expressed his support for the Major Leagues’ drug testing program. And he thanked fans for not rushing to judgment after E-S-P-N leaked the word about the positive test in December. Under the terms of the program, none of this was to be made public. But the dates of Braun’s appeal hearing also leaked out – so the Players Association said all parties agreed it was appropriate that the final ruling be made public late yesterday afternoon. While Braun was focusing on his innocence, others around the country debated whether he should give back his 2011 M-V-P award had he been found guilty. Some thought it should have gone to National League home run leader Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. But Kemp said this week he wouldn’t want the award by default. And the baseball writers who chose Braun said they wouldn’t take it back, regardless of the verdict. Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin said Braun’s case will dominate the talk at Spring Training for a few days. But as the team gets ready for its first official workout tomorrow, he said it shouldn’t talk long to put the focus back on getting ready for the season. Braun’s absence would have been another blow to a Milwaukee offense that already took a hit when Prince Fielder left for Detroit. Melvin said it was exciting to know that quote, “one of the best players in the game is back in the lineup.” Braun batted .332 last season with 33 homers, 111 R-B-I’s, and 33 stolen bases.