February 25, 2012

The Real Crime in the Ryan Braun Saga

By - Kris Fletcher

On Thursday, reigning National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun became the first player in Major League Baseball history to successfully appeal a positive drug test.

Photo by: Jeff Roberson
Since reports first surfaced that the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder popped positive this past October, the media's primary focus has been on the legitimacy of awards and whether Bud Selig's attempt to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs was failing.

Those should have been secondary issues.

The real crime is the fact that news leaked about the possible guilt of a man who turned out to be innocent.

Sources indicated that Braun's testosterone was so high, that it was twice the level of anyone that has previously taken the test. According to FOX Sports, he had indeed tested positive, but not for a performance-enhancing drug. It was for something "never before seen in the history of baseball's drug-prevention program."

Reportedly, Braun is on medication for a sexually transmitted disease, and since there is no cure for it, doctors are forced to increase his testosterone levels to prevent outbreaks. This is what probably triggered the positive result.

I believe that is the real problem in all this. The fact that drug test results are not supposed to be public knowledge under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program established by MLB and the Players Association in 2006. The Health Policy Advisory Committee notifies the player and the team of the positive drug test result. In theory, there are only a handful of people in on the process.

Yet somehow, Braun's results got out.

In this day and age of technology, it's pretty much impossible to keep information under wraps. In the past, you would have had to pass the fire wall of the network news or editors at a newspaper. The self-imposed "rules of journalism" acted as a barricade to provide only information deemed necessary.

That type of behavior is impossible to administer today. News organizations won't cripple themselves with outdated rules, or they lose the battle for viewers and readers. Nowadays, sources don't have to be named, and gossip is what drives huge numbers. How many casual or non-baseball fans know the Ryan Braun story? Way more than cared about the fact that he won the NL MVP Award in the first place.

This case proves that any player is at risk for having their name tarnished with a false positive. They can only hope due process shakes itself out before the results are leaked to the media.

Hopefully, those that have ripped Braun over the last few months will take the time to admit they were wrong with the same passion and energy they used to blast him.

I wouldn't bet on it though.

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