Ryan Braun: What You Don’t Know About His Case Is Important

As you already know, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers will not be suspended by Major League Baseball after his positive drug test was overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das.

As such, those who relentlessly moralized about Braun from the moment his positive test results were leaked surely took a step back and apologized for their hasty jump-to-conclusions approach, right?

Um … not quite.

They continue to do exactly the same thing even after the suspension was ruled null and void, primarily because every major media outlet reported that it was overturned due to a technicality and not science (1/2/3/4/5).

Almost immediately after the suspension was overturned, the stories started to pile in, sharply shifting in tone from being about Braun’s exoneration to Braun simply getting off on a stroke of luck. As such, the public continues to spew this rhetoric that Braun is definitely guilty of using drugs, it’s just that he wasn’t caught because of MLB’s incompetence.

The problem is that it’s not exactly true.

As many have already shown, the chain of custody is part of science, much like the process aspect of the scientific method is as important as the results, yet people don’t seem to care about that because … uh … science is hard and stuff (1/2/3/4/5).

Additionally, it actually is a matter of science for other reasons as well, as two relatively important findings have been omitted (willfully or not) from almost every news story and opinion piece on Braun. Will Carroll and Lester Munson both offer interesting findings on the decision via their own sources.

Sources have told Carroll that the defense showed that the circumstances which led to the positive drug test was able to be repeated using the errors of the handler, which he explained on WEEI.

In shorter bursts, he explained it on Twitter as well (1/2/3/4/5)

Quit calling Braun decision a technicality, media. It was decided on science.

Repeatable result showed exactly how Braun’s single test showed positive. Arbitrator agreed. Simple, isn’t it?

Know what makes a good soundbite? “44 hours” and “FedEx”. Know what doesn’t? Technical details about urine flora.

Joe Sheehan: So the delay in processing the urine was repeated, and shown to be the cause of the high levels of T?

Will Carroll: More or less. It deserves an answer longer than 140.

JGERRITWULTERKENS: confused; so the sheer act of leaving out a sample in the wrong environment by itself raises the testosterone ratio by >3x?

Will Carroll: To vastly oversimplify, yes.

JGERRITWULTERKENS: Fair enough except if that’s a widely known, medically accepted fact you’d think MLB/testers would have been cognizant, no?

Will Carroll: Tester made a mistake. Its not usually an issue.

Do yourself a favor and read the article that he posted up on Amazon. Not only is it great work, but it benefits The Jimmy Fund.

Carroll’s information is not only relevant, but it’s monumentally important to the argument people are having over whether Braun case was overturned because of the chain of custody or because of doubts involving the actual sample. Carroll’s sources explain quite explicitly that their failure to keep up with the chain of custody caused a failure in the integrity of the sample. Then, not only was the sample’s validity questionable, but they were able to replicate the results and show how it happened. Thus, not only was it a failure in the process, but in the results as well.

In essence, this would break the case of anybody left moralizing, which is a reason I find it curious that nobody wants to run it. For Carroll’s part, he says Fox Sports isn’t silencing him, he was just beaten to the punch, but I preferred his insight over the article by David Epstein and Joe Lemire that actually was run.

Why does nobody want to talk about this? It’s beyond me.

Furthermore, Munson reports that Braun offered his DNA to check whether the urine was actually his, but was refused, suggesting that there were further questions about the legitimacy of the sample.

A failure to follow the delivery procedure seems like a technicality. Does it mean that Braun was clean and had not used any prohibited substance?

The failure to follow the delivery procedure casts significant doubt on the integrity of the collection procedure. That alone might have been enough for Braun to prevail in the arbitration. But Braun’s side went one step further. He and his lawyers, sources say, offered a DNA sample that could have been compared to the urine sample to determine whether the urine came from Braun. It was a bold move by Braun attorneys David Cornwell and Christopher Lyons. But instead of agreeing to a DNA test that would have determined conclusively whether it was Braun’s urine that tested positive, MLB declined the offer. The refusal to agree to the DNA test likely pushed the arbitrator toward a ruling for Braun. It was also a major first step for Braun in the effort to clear his name. He and his attorneys can now argue that he was clean and that MLB deliberately denied him the opportunity to prove that scientifically.


If we accept those two pieces of information as true (which I have no reason to doubt), it’s a bit of a no-brainer for the arbitrator, in my opinion. Not only could Braun have potentially won solely on the grounds that the entire methodology was compromised by the handler of the sample, but additionally, the test results were duplicated by the defense, giving ample reason to suspect that the positive test was useless. Adding the fact that the MLB didn’t allow Braun to prove his innocence by checking the DNA to confirm it was his urine, and everything Das decided becomes quite clear.

Even if you don’t fully believe Carroll or Munson, because for whatever reason you think you have sources that they don’t, it’s more than enough doubt for me to not write articles that basically say Braun’s definitely still guilty.

And no, I’m not talking about angry Twitter commenters or angry bloggers, but mainstream sportswriters (1/2/3/4/5).

Why? Who knows? Perhaps blindly believing Braun got off the hook on a technicality is more interesting than the details of how and why things actually happened.

Either way, it’s inexplicable to me that the process worked and Braun still ends up as the bad guy to 89% of the people out there (at least according to one poll). The public chooses to spew religiously charged hate, conspiracy theories, and goes around blindly calling him a liar when they don’t even bother to check out all the facts and what we actually know.

People know for sure that he used steroids, people know for sure that he got off on a technicality, and people know for sure that he lied to them at his press conference. Apparently just like they knew for sure he was going to be suspended for 50 games.

I guess it’s just frustrating to me to see the blatant denial of logic and reason that’s thrown right in their faces, all so that they can feel okay with the assumptions they ran with after the positive test results were announced. The fervent and insistent nature of it just shocks me.

Actually, I take that back. I guess it’s par for the course now.

About Chad Moriyama