He's out!

Former MLB MVP suspended a year for drug violations
Associated Press
Jul 23, 2013

The first star to fall in baseball's latest drug investigation is one of its biggest: Ryan Braun.

The 2011 National League MVP was suspended without pay for the rest of the season and the postseason Monday, the start of sanctions involving players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

The Milwaukee Brewers star accepted the 65-game ban, 15 games more than the one he avoided last year when an arbitrator overturned his positive test for elevated testosterone because the urine sample had been improperly handled.

"I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions," he said in a statement.

Braun, injured Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and more than a dozen players were targeted by MLB following a report by Miami New Times in January that they had been connected with Biogenesis of America, a now-closed anti-aging clinic.

"For these guys still to be involved with this stuff just baffles me," Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "The education's there and everybody knows what you can and can't take. It baffles me that this continues to be a black cloud over the game. I know Major League Baseball's done a great job of cleaning up the game and the testing policy and all that. And it's working. But at the same time, too, it seems like we'll go through a lull and then, bam, here comes another guy that gets suspended. It's got to stop."

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced Braun's penalty Monday, citing the outfielder for multiple unspecified "violations" of baseball's drug program and labor contract. Braun will miss the Milwaukee Brewers' final 65 games without pay, costing him about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary.

"I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed," Braun said. "I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."

Under the agreement reached by MLB and the players' association the specifics of Braun's admission won't be made public. The sides also wouldn't say whether this counted as a single violation or more under baseball's drug agreement.

"We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs. "We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."

Union head Michael Weiner said last week that arbitration hearings for players contesting suspensions likely would not start until September, which would delay any penalty until next season. But he also indicated the union would urge players to make a deal and get a suspension over with if there was strong evidence of guilt.

"I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step," Weiner said in a statement. "It vindicates the rights of all players under the joint drug program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."

Braun's acceptance of the suspension marks a 180-degree turnaround from his defiant spring training news conference in Phoenix last year, after his 50-game ban was overturned.

"We won," he said then, "because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed."

Braun became the latest star tripped up by baseball's drug rules.

The sport was criticized for allowing bulked up sluggers to set power records in the 1990s and only started testing in 2003. Since then, testing and penalties have become more stringent and last year San Francisco's Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games, just weeks after he was voted MVP of the All-Star game.

Four All-Stars this year have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

Other players reportedly tied to Biogenesis include Cabrera, now with the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Seattle catcher Jesus Montero.

Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, has been sidelined all season following January hip surgery and was hoping to be activated this week. A quadriceps injury developed while he played at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and caused him to remain on the disabled list. He is not expected at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., until Wednesday.

A person familiar with the probe said negotiations over penalties for other players had not yet begun. Rodriguez admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has denied taking them since.

The 29-year-old Braun was hitting .298 with nine homers and 38 RBIs this year, slowed by a thumb injury that limited him to one game between June 9 and Friday. He was at Miller Park before Monday's game against San Diego but left without speaking to reporters.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin spoke with Braun but wouldn't divulge details of the discussion.

"I'm disappointed. He's a very important player to our organization and to the ballclub and to our performance on the field," Melvin said.

By serving the entire penalty this year, Braun gains a slight monetary advantage. His salary increases to $10 million next year, when a 65-game suspension would cost him about $500,000 more.

"There's still more guys that have a case they have to try to go after," said Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake, the Reds' player representative. "Some guys might get off. Some guys might get stiffer than that. It will be an individual thing for those guys."

___

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco and AP freelance writers Joe DiGiovanni in Milwaukee and Mike Kelly and Jack Etkin in Denver contributed to this report.

 

Comments

grandmasgirl

When I read stories like this, the Lance Armstrong deal, and others, I think of Pete Rose. What a bum rap he got. At least he had "natural" ability.

coasterfan

I agree. Many people thought Rose shouldn't get credit for passing Ty Cobb as the all-time hits leader, due to his gambling conviction. Most people don't know that Cobb also admitted to a gambling scandal during his career, as well.

starryeyes83

Is there any ball player out there who doesn't do drugs or steroids? They really should start firing these people and banning them for life. They're not worth the money they get paid.

coasterfan

As compared to, say, schoolteachers, police, firemen, medical research folks - you know, people who actually make America a better place in which to live, they ARE overpaid, but to say they all use drugs is a broad-sweeping inaccuracy. Most pro sports have some sort of escalating penalty system in place; higher penalties for 2nd and 3rd occurrences. That seems to be more fair than a "career death penalty" for a first violation.

You can't just fire them, because they have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was put in place back in the 70's, when team owners had total control over player's careers and the starting salary for a big league ballplayer was less than $15,000.

Justme...

I disagree. This is not a punishment because his use of drugs helped escalate his salary to the point where getting caught was worth it. These guys have to take performance enhancing drugs to get these lucrative contracts. For this guy, I'm willing to bet if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't change a thing. Career death panalty on the first violation is the only answer. If that's not possible because of the contract, it should be with the next negotiation. I honestly don't give a crap about these guys OR their sport, but what happens in the pros filters down to the college level which filters down to the high school level. And that is NOT ok with me.

coasterfan

That's an incorrect assumption, unless you have first- hand knowledge that he has used PEDS his entire pro career and in college. A more likely scenario is that he felt pressured to carry the team, after they traded Prince Fielder away, and looked to PEDs as a way to make that happen, especially given MLB's poor track record catching drug violations. Your death penalty idea would only work, and would only be fair, if ALL violators were caught, and it's obvious that some are falling through the cracks.

Justme...

There is no penalty on this earth for violations where ALL violators are caught.

starryeyes83

Coasterfan,

I didn't say they ALL did.

I simply ASKED IF they did. Note the question mark.

OH-IO

I can't believe he thought he'd get away with it considering all the attention on the matter. I guess he figured he'd get all the notority and money from doing drugs and the time off don't matter. Wow.

Justme...

Both the union and management are commending this guy for taking responsibility for his actions??!! What a joke. The guy got off on a technicality the last time and is only taking responsibility this time because the evidence gave him no choice. The union even tells them to take responsbility if the evidence is strong (ie stick with the lie if it is weak). And the Marlins manager wonders why this is still continuing? How stupid is he? Gee, maybe because the punishments are a joke. The guy will still make 5.5 million next year. Where's the criminal prosecusion? This will not end until they start kicking these guys out for life. The suspension are well worth the risk.

coasterfan

His penalty is to sit out of the game he loves, knowing he just sunk any chance his team has of making the playoffs. Oh, and he loses more than $3 million, and teams will likely be hesitant to sign him to a big longterm contract, and if they do, most likely it will be for millions less than he otherwise would have received. That's assuming that any team would be willing to sign him at all - which is what prematurely ended the career of Bonds and others.. Definitely a stupid move on Bruan's part, but I think the penalties ARE pretty big.

The problem isn't that the penalties aren't big enough to deter. Since it's a profession in which you have to produce or you're gone, there will always be some who would take the risk. The problem is that testing/identification always lags a couple years behind the development of new PEDs. If people knew they would be caught every time, or even most of the time, then you have a deterrent.

Justme...

He doesn't love the game. He loves the money. And his remorse is a joke.

coasterfan

I would agree that he isn't as much sorry for what he did, as sorry that he got caught. Again, what makes it worth the risk is NOT that penalties are too small, but rather the chances if getting caught are too small, and the rewards for not getting caught are big.

The Good Doctor

His team was already out of the playoffs. Moreover, he already has a long term contract. He will make millions next year under the contract he has already signed.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Coasterfan, do you know of any sports statistics sites that give numbers on popularity trends for attending (or watching/listening) to professional sports? This seems to be a passionate and informed topic for you! I also ask so that I can do some homework and see how it compares to the participation/spectating of other games like League of Legends and their Championship series.

deertracker

It is my belief that if one player uses PEDs, the others pretty much have to in order to compete. It is also about the money. It just is!

The Brownie Elf

How about you just play by working out and practicing. If you can't cut it after that, sell insurance. Is it so hard to do the right thing?