Ryan Braun who reportedly showed evidence of anabolic steroids during an MLB steroids screen, defeated the league's testing on appeals citing an unsecured chain of custody. There were plenty of missteps along the way no doubt.
1. Results of the positive test leaked out to the public from ESPN. Most accounts in the press accept leaked information, however why are reporters (and ESPN) held to some kind of ethical standards. Can they leak any confidential medical information? Ring them up on HIPPAA violations.
2. Apparently the chain of custody for steroid samples was not well planned out. Although the T:E ration was 20 in Braun's sample, the arbitrator ruled that chain of custody and the testing procedure was not 'state of the art'. (ESPN)
In his appeal, Braun didn't argue evidence of tampering and didn't dispute the science, but argued protocol had not been followed. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn that Braun questioned the chain of custody and collection procedure.
MLB officials argued that there was no question about the chain of custody or the integrity of the sample, and that Braun's representatives did not argue that the test itself was faulty.
But multiple sources said the sample was not shipped for testing as soon as possible, as required by the drug testing policy, and instead was kept in a cool place in the sample collector's home.
I am not a lawyer, but defense attorneys will question procedure integrity from the outset. And why not, if the consequences are severe, MLB should maintain a tight, professional, well-supervised chain of custody and maintain 'good clinical practice' for these biological samples. There can be a ton of errors if good clinical secure procedure is violated.
Braun is claiming innocence, which is true in the strictly 'eligilbe to play' sense. He beat the positive test on procedural grounds. That means the needle moves more toward 'no evidence of anabolic steroids' than 'evidence of anabolic steroids'.
You see, nothing in medicine or the laboratory is absolute, unless it is birth or death, and even then mistakes can be made. It is 'preponderance of the evidence' (apologies to you with obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Braun said this:
"We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year."
Passing 25 tests is unimpressive. The logic is like "But officer your speed gun is wrong because I have driven this road 400 times and never once was clocked at 100 mph". Well, yeah, but now you were. Except the officer jiggled the speed gun, so the results are not considered 'good clinical practice'.
It is said MLB may appeal in federal court. Forget it. Don't waste time on juice under the bridge. Tighten up the procedure and the collection protocol. If a guy juices once, it is unlikely he can go cold turkey forever. Sooner or later....
Jeff Bradley talks about Ken Caminti and Jose Canseco, and A-Rod. What's the point? Athletes will cheat for advantage. Monitor them with legally sound good clinical practices.
As for Braun, nothing about last year pops out as particularly unusual. .332, 33, 111 are not career highs. He was a 29 year-old 6-1, 210 pound slugger. He doesn't really look like a 'roid abuser. There is no Barry Bonds 175 pound lanky dude to 250 pound middle linebacker with huge-neck-muscles transformation. If he keeps clean for a couple years, the memory will fade.
Does this mean that everyone else can challenge the system including Manny...?