Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Ryan Braun Knows the One, Confirmed Minor-Leaguer Who Successfully Fought 50 Game Ban

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Have any of you heard of Brendan Katin?

I hadn’t, at least not for years; he was a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system.  But Brendan Katin is the one and only person that anyone is aware of who’s actually successfully appealed a 50-game suspension — that is, he cleared his name after he’d falsely tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone.

Well, Ryan Braun knows Katin, something Katin confirms in this article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by Todd Rosiak on December 19, 2011.   Here’s what Katin had to say about his own ordeal:

“We were playing the Smokies in Tennessee this one morning and I wake up to a call from our employee assistance program guy,” Katin recounted in a recent phone interview.

“He just asked me, ‘Is there any reason why you would have tested positive for steroids?’ I answered, ‘Absolutely not. I have absolutely no idea.’ Then he said, ‘Well, you did, and they’re going to suspend you for 50 games.’ ”

Katin wasted no time in contacting his agent and filing an appeal. But from everything he knew, it would be an exercise in futility. A suspension seemed inevitable.

“They’d tell you every time in those meetings in spring training that nobody’s ever won an appeal,” Katin said.

At this point, 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 similar.

Katin goes on to say this:

Katin, to this day, is believed to be the only player at any level in professional baseball to have won such an appeal. In the major leagues, 12 players on 40-man rosters have taken their cases to arbitration, and all 12 have lost.

Katin was allowed to play as the process dragged on for about two months, but he struggled mightily as he tried to figure out what might have triggered the positive test and what he’d do if the suspension was upheld.

“It was the worst start I had gotten off to in my career. I was hitting .200, if not sub-.200,” he said. “How could I have taken anything that possibly could have caused this? I couldn’t think of anything. At that point in my career, I didn’t even drink protein shakes or anything. Absolutely nothing.”

Katin finally learned he was cleared when he was handed a letter by Huntsville’s trainer as he boarded the bus in Chattanooga, Tenn., for a game. He’d beaten the odds, but the process had taken its toll.

“Pretty much you wake up every day and you tell yourself, ‘I could be suspended tomorrow for 50 games,’ “he said. “I knew that I did nothing wrong, but you’ve got to know that there’s still that chance.”

Katin also said that it was quite difficult for him to deal with the fact that to most, he was guilty until proven innocent — and as Rosiak’s article shows, Katin also suffered greatly in the short-term from the mere perception that he was a cheater.

Aside from that, Katin had only kind words for Braun:

“Completely shocked,” Katin said when asked of his reaction to the news that his friend and former teammate had reportedly tested positive. “He’s as clean-cut a guy as it gets and as classy a guy as it gets.”

In other words, Braun’s test could be a false positive of the sort Katin had happen to him; just because it hadn’t yet happened as far as anyone’s aware in the majors yet, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  Tests are handled by humans, thus are inherently flawed, and it is possible that a completely innocent man could be caught in the cross-hairs, just like Katin was back in 2007.

My view remains that Braun is innocent until and unless he is proven guilty, not the reverse — and that I fully expect that Braun will be exonerated.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm

4 Responses

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  1. In 2007 in the Minor Leagues, players would submit two urine samples—marked “A” and “B.” Katin was notified that he tested positive for high levels of testosterone, and he said the “B” sample was then tested for synthetic drugs. It came back negative. Now, if a player has a high level, Major League Baseball will automatically test for synthetic drugs before contacting the player.

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    December 30, 2011 at 5:53 am

    • That is true. And MLB did change its procedure after Katin beat the system. But it’s still the only precedent we have of anyone who was innocent, so I had to use it.

      I do think that Braun is innocent. I think it’s likely that something else he was taking for a legitimate medical problem raised his testosterone levels. There are medications out there, including some antibiotics, that can do this on a temporary basis — because what antibiotics do is raise the immunological response throughout our bodies. For women, that may mean our estrogen levels could be temporarily elevated; for men, it would mean that testosterone levels might be temporarily elevated. And that would still show as a synthetic raise, due to a drug reaction, but it is _not_ something due to performance-enhancing drugs.

      Barb Caffrey

      December 30, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  2. […]  Then on December 22, 2011, I pointed out that Braun knew the one minor leaguer, Brendan Katin, who’d successfully fought his appeal, and that maybe this meant something for him.  And Katin said that he didn’t believe Braun was dirty; he said he was “shocked” to hear of an impending suspension, as it didn’t really make any sense.  My conclusion was as follows: In other words, Braun’s test could be a false positive of the sort Katin had happen to him; just because it hadn’t yet happened as far as anyone’s aware in the majors yet, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  Tests are handled by humans, thus are inherently flawed, and it is possible that a completely innocent man could be caught in the cross-hairs, just like Katin was back in 2007. […]

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    May 30, 2012 at 12:53 am


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