Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Ryan Braun, MVP, Tests Positive for Steroids; Will Appeal

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NL MVP Ryan Braun tests positive for PEDs, faces 50-game suspensionMilwaukee Brewers player Ryan Braun, who is also the 2011 Most Valuable Player for the National League, has apparently tested positive for steroids — or, as Major League Baseball (MLB) likes to call them, “performance enhancing drugs,” or PEDs.

See this link for further details:

Note the word “apparently.”  This is because there is no confirmation from MLB as to whether or not this actually happened.

Here are a few paragraphs from the article; please note that the Yahoo Sports blog is referencing an earlier report at ESPN that I wasn’t able to find:

The “Outside the Lines” report goes on to clarify that elevated levels of testosterone in Braun’s sample are what triggered the positive test. Further tests showed that the testosterone was synthetic. In other words, Braun’s body did not produce it naturally.

MLB went on to consult the World Anti-Doping Agency lab for a second opinion to confirm the results. The WADA conducted a secondary test to see whether the increase in testosterone could have been produced by Braun himself or if it came from a secondary source.

The test confirmed MLB’s original results. The extra testosterone came from outside Braun’s body.


So, if this is all to be believed, Braun apparently tested positive for having too much testosterone in his bloodstream.  And MLB insists that it’s of a synthetic nature, meaning Braun couldn’t have produced it himself.  So that means that it’s possible that Braun’s outstanding 2011 season, which produced 33 HRs, 111 RBIs, and a .331 batting average, wasn’t produced naturally.

But here’s the thing.  Braun has been an outstanding player from the time the Brewers brought him up.  He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007.  His lifetime numbers are comparable to his MVP numbers; over his last five seasons, he’s averaged 36 HRs and 118 RBIs a season, and has hit over .300 every year except 2008 (when he “only” hit .285); his lifetime batting average, over five complete seasons, is .312.

So I don’t really see where Braun could’ve been taking anything that was of an enhancing nature, especially if he’s never tested positive before (and indeed, he hasn’t).

According to this article at USA Today, Braun plans a vigorous defense.  He also called the “Outside the Lines” report “B.S.”

A spokesman for Braun said (quoted in both articles referenced):

“There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated.”

All I know is, the Brewers had an odd situation a few years back where centerfielder Mike Cameron tested positive for a “performance enhancing drug” — and you know what it was?  He took an over the counter cold medicine, which happened to have something like Sudafed in it — that’s something that can raise your blood pressure because it allows you to breathe better.  But it’s not something you take unless you’re ill, and Cameron was ill, and had doctors’ notes (more than one) to prove it.

And a few years ago during the World Baseball classic, there was a pitcher who was denied use of his albuterol asthma inhaler because apparently, being able to breathe is a “performance enhancement.”  (This was a pitcher who was known to be asthmatic.  As I am also asthmatic, I fail to see how being able to breathe, rather than succumbing to a fatal asthma attack, is a performance enhancement.  Does MLB prefer healthy, vigorous baseball players who have asthma to drop over dead rather than take their albuterol in order to save their lives?)

And even with the players like Manny Ramirez, who have tested positive for something that can be called a “performance enhancement” — well, Ramirez was taking a very odd drug that enhanced, of all things, his estrogen levels.  (A female fertility drug that is quite legal in many jurisdictions.)  I never did understand what the benefit of that could possibly be, even though various chemists weighed in saying this, that, and the other.  (The only thing I ever figured out is that this particular drug could’ve possibly been masking other drugs that really did make a difference in Ramirez’s on-field performance.)

But as baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (a third baseman, and a power hitter, for the Philadelphia Phillies) said in his book CLEARING THE BASES, baseball players have been trying to “gain an edge” since the beginning of time.  Trying to legislate that away will never work (not that I think Braun did anything wrong here, but if he was trying to gain an edge, so what?).  And if the players are harming themselves down the line to gain big bucks now, that should be their prerogative — all I ask is that if someone is taking something like that, they watch what happened to Oakland Raiders’ star Lyle Alzado (who died young, and horribly, from cancer that may have been prevented if Alzado hadn’t admittedly taken many, many steroids over time).

In this, particular case, my view is that Braun’s statistical performance was well within his own normals.  So it’s very hard for me to believe that Braun actually did take anything illegal of the PED variety; because of that, and because of my admittedly laissez-faire attitude toward baseball players and legal drugs, I believe Braun should be considered innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.

Therefore, all the talk of Braun being stripped of his MVP award should stop already — it’s nonsense.  Nothing’s been proven yet.  Braun may have a good reason for why this happened, and I, for one, am willing to wait and see what it is, especially as his on-field performance hasn’t changed one whit since he was brought up to the big leagues to stay in 2007.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Very nice post. I love how everyone proclaims their innocence yet virtually all of them are never able to actually prove their innocence. It’s just too rich and I love it when guys get caught for cheating. He did turn his cheating in $150 million so it isn’t all well and good but at least he isn’t getting of scot free. It definitely is too bad though that one of the bright young stars of the MLB is now tainted. Not a good day for baseball. Also, you think you could check out my blog because I’d love to hear what you have to say

    Chris Ross

    December 11, 2011 at 1:48 am

    • Thanks, Chris. I appreciate that you’ve read my blog and commented and I’ll try to read yours later today as I’ll be interested to do so.

      At any rate, Cameron was actually right that he shouldn’t have been penalized 25 games. I believe he was injured at the time, though, so he took the suspension. (He could’ve fought it further like those two guys on the Vikings did; the two Minnesota Vikings actually won their case against the NFL for something similar — a legal drug that was taken that they honestly didn’t know contained something that the NFL didn’t like, as it had apparently changed its formulation. The judge ruled in favor of the two players.)

      And I don’t understand to this day how what Ramirez was taking actually helped him.

      In Braun’s case, the Brewers are now saying that what Braun tested positive for _isn’t_ a PED — it’s something that’s never happened before and wasn’t on the “banned” list. Now baseball is saying that it _is_ a PED, should’ve been on the “banned” list, and they want Braun suspended. This sort of illogic will not get MLB anywhere and that’s probably why Braun is planning a vigorous defense; if he decides to do what the Vikings players did and sue in federal court, he’ll probably _win_, and you know he has enough money to do exactly that and it won’t hurt him.

      Barb Caffrey

      December 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

  2. A professional athlete has higher testosterone levels? Whoda thunk? Um, duh, the extra workouts will do that to people, especially men. So the fact that he cross trains and is strong enough to be MVP, it’s got nothing to do with what he takes, it’s a natural course of body make up because he is a professional sportsman.


    December 11, 2011 at 4:21 am

  3. Well said, as usual!

    Kathie Solie

    December 11, 2011 at 5:15 am

    • Thanks, Kathie.

      The MLB’s hypocrisy really bothers me. I’m not saying no one in the history of baseball hasn’t taken steroids (legal or not) — that’s ridiculous. We know some have. But of those we _know_ have, at least two (Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire) started taking _legal_ steroids (that were not at that time banned by baseball) to correct back problems that everyone knew they had. (I believe that made the difference for McGwire to continue playing, and for Bonds to continue playing into his 40s, though he stopped taking ’em after baseball said “no” to the best of my knowledge. All the foofaraw is over what Bonds did after _that_. And while Bonds isn’t always a likable guy, that doesn’t mean he is a cheater. Particularly if the reason he took something that’s a bit unusual was to keep playing because he didn’t want to finish his career having bad back problems. I don’t know about anyone else, but I _do_ get it when players take something in order to keep playing rather than have to retire early, as Bonds started having back trouble in his early 30s and so did McGwire.)

      Anyway, baseball knows that folks like Alex Rodriguez (a former multiple-season MVP) and Andy Pettite took illegal drugs — they’ve both admitted it — and no one goes after *them* now — so that “double standard” of, “Well, if you’ve admitted it, it’s fine, but if you don’t, we’re going to hit you with a suspension” is just absurd. (And that those two didn’t receive any sanctions whatsoever bugs me to this day. Neither did Jason Giambi and he’s still playing, right alongside Rodriguez. Those two _are_ cheaters and should’ve been punished, but MLB did nothing because of their “admission of guilt.” I’m with Braun and call that “BS.”)

      Barb Caffrey

      December 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

  4. […] Rosiak states what little is known about the Ryan Braun situation — something I blogged about here a few weeks ago — and the parallels are eerily […]

  5. […] own take, as you know, is that back in December, I said that I believed Braun would be found innocent or at minimum be vindicated and this […]

  6. […] Look.  I’ve thought and thought about this, and I’ve come to the same conclusions as in my original blog post on the Braun/PED issue: […]

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