Newest PED Scandal, and Why I hate Ryan Braun

by Terry Cook

Ryan Braun, Photo: Rubenstein, Flickr.com

The newest battle lines are being drawn in the war (not WAR) on PED use in Major League Baseball.   This case is going to drag on for a long time.  It’s also going to attempt to set precedence for future PED violations.  I’m sure most of you have read the allegations against the 20+ MLB players associated with the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami…but what many don’t realize is that MLB is going after many of these players based on association with the clinic…NOT positive test results (though a few: Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera have tested positive and served a suspension).

MLB is basically using a known drug distributor as their key (star) witness in this case, in Tony Bosch.  Bosch has flipped every story he previously told to avoid a lawsuit from MLB, as well as prosecution from the Federal Government.  In doing so, MLB is leaving a lot of room for speculation and hearsay.  Many of Bosch’s clients are listed in code, paid in cash, and never actually met Bosch.  Attorneys for the players and MLB Players Union are already licking their chops at these apparent holes in the case.  And you just know loophole wrangler, Ryan Braun is already thinking of new ways to say, “I told you so”.  Again.

All this being said, this current attack on PED use is going to present an ethical legal dilemma, certainly in the eyes of the players’ attorneys.  In the “real world”, it would be tough to convict a suspect of breaking the law based on some circumstantial evidence and hearsay.  But let’s be honest here, the world of MLB is certainly not “real”.  The game practically promoted PED use throughout the 90’s, allowing its biggest superstars to get bigger.  They turned a blind eye to many of the drugs their player s were taking, recreational and otherwise,   that the U.S. Government deemed illegal.  It basically took a federal inquiry to get MLB to start to consider regulated drug testing.  It’s this reason I’ve always supported Barry Bonds as a Hall of Famer.  Quite frankly, in the world of MLB, he did nothing wrong (of course, he should have been prosecuted by the U.S. Government, but that’s their deal).  It’s also the same reason I despise Ryan Braun.  He did do something wrong, but found a loophole (delivery timeline/protocol of his specimen) to get out of a positive result…even though he had a positive result.  

MLB is going after 100 game suspensions of those already questioned in the Biogenesis case, and their reasoning is this: The first infraction (50 game suspension) is imposed because of the association with Biogenesis.  The Second infraction (100 game suspension) is imposed because they lied about their association.  One can be assured that the attorneys will attack this line of thinking as well.  And while I side with MLB on this issue, I actually think if you’re going to count this as two separate infractions, I say suspend all parties for 150 games.  Make them ride that first 50, then 100 more games.  The new policies were put into effect to deter future use of PEDs.  Well, what better way than to say, “Here’s how it’s going to be.  You lie to us and get caught…2 suspensions, no appeal”.    

This battle has the potential to divide the MLB Players Union as well.  While they are undoubtedly going to back their players on this issue and try to fight the pending suspensions, they run the risk of alienating those players that are clean, and always have been.  This isn’t 2007, where MLB was still a Wild West atmosphere of rampant drug use.  It’s 2013, where the players fully understand what the consequences are if they are to violate the drug policy.  And it appears to be working.  Polls have shown that player drug use and acceptance is way down from 5 years ago.  PED use just isn’t acceptable in locker rooms anymore, nor should it.  The strongest union in the land can’t afford to turn their back on this very interested group.  It’s partially for this reason, I’m hoping the Union gives up the players proven guilty in this scandal.  
As an ardent Orioles supporter, one would think I’m happier about ARod being involved in this new scandal than any other player.  Here’s the thing…I couldn’t care less.  At this point in his career, he’s more of a distraction to the Yankees than anything, so it probably helps them that he stays away.  He’s proven time and time that he’s nothing short of an arrogant, me first,  player.  This story just reaffirms what most think about him anyway.

The one I clearly want to go down in flames is Ryan Braun.  To me, he stole the 2011 NL MVP Award from Matt Kemp (I told Kemp so a couple of weeks ago to his face…no reaction).  He tested positive, his only defense being the transportation of his specimen.  OK, there was a loophole, and you used it, but you’re still a cheater in my book.  His quotes on Tuesday after this case blew open have been much of the same canned answers, “I addressed it in spring training. I will not make any further statements about it.”  Well great!  Case closed, we believe you, Ryan.  Except we don’t, and shouldn’t as fans this time around.  Fool us once, etc…  If Braun were to get exonerated of PED charges a 2nd time, it could do irreparable damage to the great strides MLB has taken in the last half decade to combat PEDs in its sport.  

Bottom line, if MLB has enough evidence to support the claims that Bosch is making, suspend them.  I think we, as fans of this game we love, deserve to witness it in its purest form, and that’s clean.  Also, I hate Ryan Braun.


  1. "I hate Ryan Braun"? What an inane thing to say, as if it was something clever or cute. This news just broke, facts are still being gathered and verified, processed and analyzed, and this Terry Cook is already spewing emotional drivel. Calm down Terry! Let's see if these allegations are accurate. Let's see if Braun is guilty. You know, it IS possible to be accused twice and be innocent both times, or is that just to fantastic a result to think about? Let's put the damn cart BEFORE the horse this time. To say you "despise" someone, to resort to silly name calling (Braun: a "loophole wrangler") makes this article lose whatever value it may have had. Of course I hate to see this scandal, which will only hurt baseball's legitimacy, but I do understand the larger forces out there that drive individuals in professional sports to the unhealthy attitude of winning at all costs. If the evidence does show Braun and the others are guilty, then an example should be set, if only to deter others from the temptation. If the evidence does not support this conclusion, I for one would be delighted.

  2. There's a whole lot more to the Braun saga than you choose to trot out here. The case WAS decided on the narrow grounds of chain of custody rules, completely endorsed by the MLB and the union. Braun's attorneys did what good attorneys do: Get the case essentially thrown out the simplest and most irrefutable grounds. That's not to say there weren't other avenues that could have been used to challenge the appearance of there being a positive test outcome, at least a couple that I will not belabor here unless requested, but those other defenses all would be subject to an arbitrator's judgement and would have made the grounds for the decision less cut and dried.

    Let's say you have a child custody case, and your attorney is convinced you'd very likely (barring any surprises in the hearing) win custody on the merits. BUT, there is a line of argument that the case was brought in the wrong state; thus, you argue and win on the venue. That did actually happen in a case involving a member of our family. Would our attorney have done right by us if he let the case go forward in Texas instead of Wisconsin, where it belonged? (P.S., it still took months to get the venue issue resolved and the plaintiff couldn't afford to start all over again, so the merits that were in our favor never even were directly argued although much of it came out during discovery via affidavits and testimony as to the facts.)

    Once the sample's chain of custody flaw was brought to light, MLB could have (and should have in my opinion) quietly closed the case and set about to test Braun relentlessly going forward. Not only did they keep pursuing the case in spite of the procedural (contractual) flaw, but made matters worse by failing to protect Braun's privacy rights by virtue of a leak when the case was still in process. I wish Braun would have sued MLB for leaking information that has tarnished his image/reputation, but that's not Ryan's style.

    I am open to any outcome here, including the possibility that Braun is a pathological liar and a cheat. I'm not there yet, however. A question mark is floating over the whole episode.


  3. Ryan Braun didn't answer questions

    Updated: July 9, 2013, 5:25 PM ET
    By T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish | ESPN.com

    Ryan Braun, who has repeatedly denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, refused to answer questions during a recent meeting with Major League Baseball about his connection to Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, sources told "Outside the Lines."

    The meeting took place June 29, a source said, and is one of several that MLB has conducted with players connected to the clinic. A source said Alex Rodriguez has not been interviewed, but a meeting is expected to take place within the week.

    Commissioner Bud Selig's office is expected to suspend Braun and Rodriguez, along with as many as 20 players sometime after next week's All-Star break, several sources told "Outside the Lines." As OTL reported, MLB started building cases against the players last month after Bosch agreed to cooperate with investigators.

    The question is how long the suspensions will be.

    Sources said the commissioner's office was considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, even though neither player was previously suspended for violating MLB's drug policy.

    The argument, one source said, would be that they -- and possibly other players -- committed multiple offenses by receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and by lying about it.

    Bosch's attorneys have met repeatedly with MLB officials over the past month, turning over numerous documents to substantiate his connection to the players named in company documents, sources have said.

    While sources would not detail what Bosch has turned over, he was expected to provide phone, text, email and other records.

    Representatives of Braun could not be reached Tuesday by ESPN.