The bastion of trustworthy and reliable journalism that is TMZ (found via Big League Stew) is reporting that Ryan Braun’s much mentioned positive test was for a medication he was taking, not a performance enhancing drug.

Assuming this report is true, there are two ways of looking at it: 1) You can look at this news with a heavy dose of skepticism to Braun’s claims, along with the claims of 111 other Major League Baseball players who receive therapeutic use exemptions for substances that would otherwise be banned; or 2) You can look at it with a heavy dose of scorn for a league that’s so interested in redeeming itself for past failures in allowing dangerous substances to be used, it doesn’t even attempt to decipher the difference between legitimate drug use for the sake of one’s health and less legitimate drug use for the sake of improving performance.

Either way, it seems unlikely that Braun will be easily forgiven for a positive test.

According to BALCO founder Victor Conte:

Unless there’s some chain-of-custody issue, other technical problem during the collection and transport process, he’s basically dead in the water. … I believe he’s going to serve the 50-game suspension.

For me, the major fault of Major League Baseball is found in their search to ban buzz words rather than cheating. For instance, the latest collective bargaining agreement introduced the league’s testing of Human Growth Hormone, which is useful in recovery, but not in enhancing a baseball player’s performance.

However, we’ve all heard of HGH and its negative connotations and so we believe that MLB is making strides to stop PEDs from being used in baseball. I believe a much more accurate portrayal of illegal substances in baseball is given by Conte:

What they’re doing is using fast-acting testosterone — creams, gels, orals, patches — and they clear so quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours. … They could conceivably, after a game, use testosterone to help with tissue repair and healing and recovery and by the time they’d show up at the park the next day, their PE ratio would be normal. I always knew there was this giant loophole that you could drive a Mack truck through.

Back in 2004, I said that I felt 50 percent were using steroids and 80 percent were using stimulants. The numbers are obviously less now, but I think it’s a significant portion. … I’m including the offseason, where they really don’t do testing. … When you’re considering offseason and during the season, it may have dropped, but still 30 or 40 percent.

For those who stand up so adamantly against PEDs, the figure given by Conte has to be incredibly alarming. But what should be the cause of grief is that MLB seems more interested in optics than doing anything about the issue.


Comments (6)

  1. The thing about it is that a test can’t distinguish whether or not he’s telling the truth about the medication. It can only tell you if he has an illegal substance in his body. If he does, and it hasn’t been cleared through some sort of exemption, you have to suspend him.

    Having been subjected to drug tests in sports, I can tell you that on Day 1 of every training camp, and the last day of every season, team doctors would get everyone together and have ‘the speech’: You are responsible for what you put in your body. Period. If there was ever any doubt, the docs were available almost 24/7 to ask questions. If it was a medication that was needed that needed to be cleared, they’d get the exemption. I can’t imagine it would be any different for a pro vs an amateur like me.

    If he got this medication from a team doctor, and they didn’t check or clear it, the doctor should be fired. Otherwise, Braun has to man up for his mistake and sit his 50 games.

  2. I really hate the use of the term ‘steroids’. Steroids are a large class of compounds ubiquitous throughout nature. As such I think we have to be careful how we define PED and the compounds, or specific uses of such compounds that we label PEDs.

  3. Of course they are interested in optics, that’s all they have a hope of controlling.

  4. Most of the banned substances are not performance enhancing at all. They are what is referred to as “masking agents”, used to flush the steroids out of the system. This is why there can be a lot of confusion, a lot of positive tests are not for steroids themselves, it’s for diuretics and such substances that people use to get rid of steroids in their system before testing.

    Needless to say, a lot of these substances find their way into legitimate medications, as they are not in any way harmful. Some over-the-counter cold medications are on the banned list because of the this, so if Braun tested positive for something like that, he might be trying to spin the medication angle. Not that it’s going to help him.

  5. I don’t buy it. Why would he suddenly start taking a medication in the playoffs? It’s too convenient and he was probably hiding something after a long season.

  6. They do test in the offseason(at least in the minors),
    Pretty crazy what conte’s saying about the testosterone that dissapears within hours. I wonder if that’s what Manny took. Really sucks after 9 months we still don’t know what he took! What about Braun?

    As late as the MLB testing program was to implement compared to other sports, baseball players always seem to be the first ones with innovative ways of enhancing performance.

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