Oct 4, 2011; Phoenix..."/>
Oct 4, 2011; Phoenix..."/>

Cubs Players Defend Ryan Braun’s Drug Tester

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Oct 4, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers outfielder

As most of us know, Ryan Braun failed a recent drug test. This means that he should have been suspended by Major League Baseball for the fifty games that first time offenders get.

He, like everyone else who has ever failed a drug test, denied it like Dikembe Mutombo in the paint (finger wag and everything).  He appealed, as everyone knew he would, and hired a bunch of high-end lawyers to defend him.

He and his lawyers took it to an arbitrator, who would ultimately decide the case. The basis of their attack was that the sample taker did a poor job. The sample taker got the urine sample from Braun on October 1st and took it home with him for the weekend instead of mailing it right away.

The arbitrator had enough doubt to clear Braun of his dirty sample and lift the suspension he was facing. Exactly why he felt this way, we won’t know until the arbitrator releases his written opinion within the next thirty days. The bottom line is, Braun will play Opening Day.

Cubs’ players seem to think that Braun got off because of a silly technicality. Reed Johnson, who is regarded as a hard-working, classy guy around the league, came out and defended the sample taker. Johnson said of the sample taker, “He handles his business pretty professionally” and went on to say, “I think that everyone in this clubhouse would agree with me.”  If that were not enough, Jeff Baker then came out and said, “The process works and I’m comfortable with the way it goes.” He also said that he knows everything that he is putting into his body, so he has no reason to sweat any tests for drugs. Even Soriano came out to say, “If you don’t take nothing, he can take [the specimen] home for a week and nothing will come out.”

These are not rookies coming to the sample taker’s defense, these are guys that have played on multiple teams and have been around the league for a long time. Everything that we are hearing out of Cubs’ camp makes it sound like they have already written off Braun as guilty, no matter what an arbitrator says.

And why not?

Ryan Braun put something in his body that made his sample come back with raised levels of testosterone. This is something that happened.  It is very easy to get off by blaming a hard working guy just doing his job.

The sample taker has even spoken up for himself. He said that there were no FedEx offices open because of the time that the sample was taken; therefore he had to keep it over the weekend. Braun points to this as an opportunity for the sample to be contaminated, intentionally or unintentionally. The problem with his theory is that the seals were still intact when the sample arrived at the testing headquarters in Montreal. Cubs’ players, Major League Baseball and even the sample taker himself have come out at one point or another to disagree with the arbitrator’s decision. This tells me that there is more than enough reason for Braun to be suspended.

As a baseball fan, I look forward to the day when performance-enhancing drugs are out of the news and out of the game. The process has worked for thousands of samples and seemed to work this time. This appears to be a case where Braun and his lawyers found a way around a system and now got their way.

In the end, I am not sure if the suspension being overturned will help Braun in the court of public opinion. As America has shown repeatedly, we do not like cheaters and we do not forgive them very often. This positive test will hang over him for the rest of his career. None of the stats he put up before or puts after this test will matter. Many players have been able to find ways to beat drug tests (see Manny Ramirez) but this seems to be a time where the drug tests caught up with Ryan Braun.