Milwaukee Brewers left fielder and 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, and the testing showed the testosterone was synthetic. Braun is contesting the results through Major League Baseball's arbitration procedure. A spokesman for the agency representing Braun issued a statement that they were confident Braun would be cleared and that there was no "intentional violation of the program" and added that they could not discuss the matter further because of the confidentiality of the investigation.
Braun was just about the last player I would suspect of using a performance enhancing substance, so I was shocked to hear this. He has never tested positive in the past, and has, or had, a clean reputation.
Braun faces an uphill battle to win his case. The burden of proof is on the player to prove he did not knowingly ingest anything that might contain a banned substance, and also that he was not negligent in any way. In other words, a player is supposed to know what substances are present in any dietary supplements or vitamins they take. If they were spiked with an illegal substance or otherwise tampered with and he took the supplements in good faith that they were OK, he could be successful in his appeal. That is extremely difficult to do,.
As I see it, Braun is in a no win situation whether he clears himself or not. If his appeal is successful, he will be viewed by many as having gotten off on a technicality and not really innocent. Already, reaction has been swift and largely negative in comment sections of news reports. The public has seen this before from top performing players, and is understandably skeptical.
Of course, it will be much worse if fails to win his case. Braun will have to serve a 50 game suspension, which would mean he would not play for the Brewers until May 31st if his suspension started at the beginning of the 2012 season. His reputation as a star who plays the game well based on hard work and talent will be tainted, and will remain so no matter how many drug tests he passes in the future. His performance on the field will be viewed with suspicion.
As a Brewers fan, I'm both shocked and disappointed that this situation has come up. My heart hopes he will be cleared, but my gut feeling is that he has a near impossible task getting this overturned. Nonetheless, Braun should not be convicted in the Court of Public Opinion before the arbitration process is complete and the facts are all in. If his appeal is denied, Braun will have to live with the consequences of his actions, including the fact that he really let down a lot of baseball fans.
A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak has been a fan of the Brewers since they moved to Milwaukee in 1970.
More from this contributor: