Brewers OF Ryan Braun has been cleared by an arbitration panel of charges he knowingly ingested performance enhancing drugs during his 2011 NL MVP-winning campaign. “Braun has done a lot of amazing things during his big-league career,” gushes the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, “but considering the history of the drug program and its appeals, some might consider his biggest accomplishment.”
Someone familiar with the decision said the appeal went Braun’s way not so much on contesting the result of the test but the testing process itself, some kind of technicality. And it was arbitrator Shyam Das who decided to rule in favor on that technicality, making it a 2-1 decision by the three-man panel.
It is my understanding that MLB officials are not pleased with how this played out and will be making a statement in support of the drug testing process. And they indeed have put out a statement saying they “vehemently disagree” with the arbitrator’s decision.
A source familiar with MLB’s drug policy indicated there were only a few ways to overturn a positive test, such as proving a chain-of-custody issue, a flaw in the collection process or providing proof that the player’s team signed off on the substance. Otherwise, the “strict liability” aspect of the policy makes it extremely difficult to exonerate a player.
Apparently, Braun won his appeal by contesting something in the process itself.