Is the National League Most Valuable Player also baseball’s biggest dunce? Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who hit .332 last season with 33 home runs and 111 RBI, has tested positive for a banned substance, and is facing a 50-game suspension. ESPN reported that Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, and that a later test, conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Montreal, indicated that the elevated testosterone was synthetic, not naturally produced by Braun’s body.
Braun is pushing back hard. He is trumpeting his innocence, a familiar refrain for players caught cheating. “There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the [drug testing] program,” a Braun spokesman said in an email. “While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated.” USA Today said that Braun called the result “B.S.”
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Since drug testing in baseball began in 2004, no player has successfully appealed a positive test.
If Braun was indeed cheating, it would be nothing less than shocking, sad, and mind-bogglingly hypocrticial. After Alex Rodriguez admitted his earlier steroid use in 2009, Braun shared his reaction with MLB.com. “I don’t know if I would say I was surprised,” Braun said. “I feel like it was so rampant, so prevalent, in baseball during that time period that not much surprises me anymore. If anything, I was surprised he got caught, that it came out this long after he supposedly did it.” Braun said he never sought performance-enhancing drugs, and added that if he took steroids, “I would hit 60 or 70 home runs.”
Well, maybe this is evidence of Braun’s evidence – he only hit 33 home runs this year. Here’s hoping Braun is exonerated. But based on history, we’re a bit skeptical that he will be.