Final decision on Braun might not come until February

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Ken Davidoff
Monday, December 12, 2011
— Because of the lengthy appeals process allowed by Major League Baseball’s collective- bargaining agreement, Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun might not learn of his fate until February.

Braun is challenging baseball’s discovery that he failed his test—administered during the playoffs—for banned substances. Braun’s representatives at Creative Artists Agency released a statement Saturday night referring to “highly unusual circumstances” that will “demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation” of baseball’s drug-testing program.

(A source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sunday that Braun tested positive for a "prohibited substance" and not a performance-enhancing drug or steroid.

If the appeal falls short—a player has never successfully appealed a failed test since this process began in 2004—Braun will begin the 2012 season with a 50-game suspension.

The process takes such a long time because the two sides have ample opportunity to present their cases. Braun will look to prove that he, unlike anyone else in the history of baseball’s drug-testing, has been wronged by the process.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio came out in support of Braun.

Praising Braun as a “model citizen in every sense of the word,” Attanasio continued, “Ryan has issued a statement that there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case that will support his complete innocence and demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program.”

“We are dealing with an incomplete set of facts and speculation. Before there is a rush to judgment, Ryan deserves the right to be heard. We are committed to supporting Ryan to get to the truth of what happened in this unfortunate situation.”

Attanasio added, in a measure of apparent self-protection, that neither he nor the Brewers had been alerted by MLB or any adjoining body concerning the test. During the 2011 season, Attanasio extended Braun’s contract through 2020.

The case of Braun, one of the game’s young superstars, raises the stakes for baseball, as commissioner Bud Selig repeatedly has boasted of the game’s improved cleanliness. Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, has been cited specifically and repeatedly by Selig.

If the appeal fails, baseball will face the reality that it will never fully eradicate the game of rule-breakers. But it also will display that no player, no matter how famous or productive, is above the law.

As for the MVP honor getting revoked if Braun winds up getting suspended, there is no mechanism in place for that to occur, Baseball Writers Association of America secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell said Sunday. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and former slugger Jose Canseco both admitted to using illegal PEDs during MVP campaigns (2003 for A-Rod, 1988 for Canseco), and the BBWAA held no recall or re-vote.

Last updated: 7:08 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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