Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun has successfully appealed his positive drug test and will not face a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball. The appeal was decided upon by a three-person panel; one representative from MLB, one from the MLBPA and one independent arbiter. The independent arbiter, a man named Shyam Das, voted in favour of Braun while the other two split the vote.
News of Braun’s positive test was made public back in December by ESPN. They revealed that Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in October while his Milwaukee Brewers were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.
The news was first broken by Tom Haudicourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, but it has since been reported by ESPN that Braun was declared innocent based on a breach of protocol; in other words, Braun won his appeal based on a technicality:
“According to one of the sources, the collector, after getting Braun’s sample, was supposed to take the sample to FedEx/Kinkos for shipping but thought it was closed because it was late on a Saturday. As has occurred in some other instances, the collector took the sample home and kept it refrigerated. Policy states that the sample is supposed to get to FedEx as soon as possible.”
MLB is not pleased with the outcome:
“While we have always respected that process [the ruling], Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”
This, of course, has led many in the Twitterverse to conclude that Braun was in fact guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but won based on some inane breach of protocol. Although this is entirely possible, it is not necessarily true. Lawyers are trained to find loopholes and it’s feasible that Braun’s lawyer concluded that this was his best possible defense. It ultimately says nothing of his apparent guilt or innocence. If Braun’s camp knew that simply claiming innocence was not going to work, it is within their right to exploit technicalities.
Peter Gammons says it best with this Tweet:
If the testing is not foolproof and perfect, it becomes a human rights issue. Braun is innocent because he was not 100 per cent guilty.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) February 23, 2012
Is it a perfect system? No. But Braun and his lawyer were perfectly within their right to appeal the way they did.