Blog Entry

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:54 pm
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Ryan Braun has work to do rebuilding his image, so does Major League Baseball.

If you don't believe that, then listen to what Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Friday when I asked him if he worries about the integrity of baseball's drug program.

"I do now," Jones said.

That's a problem.

If the fallout of the Braun case is that players don't trust the drug program to be fair, then the program itself loses all the credibility it needs.

Baseball and the players union obviously understand that, and it was no surprise that both the commissioner's office and the union issued statements late Friday afternoon defending the program.

"Our program is not 'fatally flawed,'" MLB said in its statement, countering a charge that Braun made in his press conference earlier Friday in Arizona.

"Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," the union said.

The union couldn't resist taking a shot at management, saying that the arbitrator's decision in Braun's favor was "deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

But the bigger issue here isn't who liked the decision or who didn't. The bigger issue isn't whether the decision hinged on a "technicality."

It's whether players still trust the system.

Braun is a part of it, because of the respect players around the game have for him. Support for him seemed to be near-universal in the Braves clubhouse on Friday, and the belief seemed to be that at least in this case, the system had holes.

"It's fishy," catcher Brian McCann said. "The guy who [collected the sample] doesn't need to be doing it anymore. It's terrible.

"It should never ever, ever happen."

Jones and other Braves players suggested that they would have been more comfortable if the urine sample had been held by someone who didn't know which player it came from, eliminating any chance that a collector with a grudge against one player could try to take action.

But most of all, they expressed strong support for Braun.

"I believe Ryan, because I know him," Jones said. "I believe him. He's not a guy you look at and say he's on something. I sincerely believe he didn't take anything."

But Jones also understands the uphill battle that Braun now faces to save his reputation.

"Yes, there's always going to be doubt, and that's what's unfair," he said. "Once your name is associated [with steroids], you might as well wear a scarlet letter."

The problem for baseball is that its drug program is now associated with the Ryan Braun case.

And even if this really is "the highest quality drug testing program of any professional sports organization in the world," as MLB claimed in its Friday statement, it's a program that is now very much on the stand, and very much on the defensive.

MLB defended the sample collector, calling him "extremely experienced" and saying he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."

The players aren't convinced, and that's a problem that baseball needs to address.

No drug program is of any use if it lacks credibility. Right now, the credibility of this program is at stake.

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Comments

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 6:29 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

I guess I should have worded that differently. I'm positive they didn't exclude any evidence, per your explaination. The media and the public are in need of this information to "truly exonerate" him. As a trial lawyer, you would know that the only information that needs to be given to the public at this time would be on a "need to know basis". Hence, my comment that the rest will play out over time. You would also know that if there is an investigaton and possible criminal or federal charges to follow, that mum will be the word for a while. You would also know that Das had enough time to write a 500 page chronicle to explain his ruling. Instead, he gave the minimum required to allow Braun to play. My thought would be that this should surprise you as this is not the norm for arbritration cases, especially in MLB drug cases. Das will take the full, alotted time to render his findings and decisions to paper and submit them for public disclosure. Lastly, pay close attention to ESPN's spin and damage control as it pertains to what they want to public to know about the case. The "Mother Ship" has alot at stake.




Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:47 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Word has it that Braun's camp was prepared to defend him with alot of the information that people want to hear to truly exonerate him but it wasn't needed and the rest will play out over time.
I have a very very hard time believing that.  I have been a practicing trial lawyer for over 15 years.  There is no way I am going to leave a hearing or a trial (whether trial or arbitration) without having introduced evidence that will "truly exonerate" my client and instead hope that the judge/arbitrator will rule in my client's favor on a procedural issue.  If you lose its called malpractice.  If Braun had lost, its over, there is no appeal (well, you can appeal that the arbitrator's decision was arbitrary or capricious but you can't do so based on evidence that the arbitrator did not hear because you did not introduce it), no opportunity to then submit this "other information" that "word has it" was in Braun's team's possession.   No, Braun's team went with its best shot -- arguing the delay in the sending of the sample and the "possibility" of tampering.

If they had PROOF of the tampering or PROOF that Braun did not take any banned substance they would have already released it to protect Braun's liveliehood and reputation.

Please keep in mind, I am not saying Braun did  nor did not take a banned substance or, if he did, whether or not he did so intentionally.  Just that there is no reason to suspect that Braun is keeping any exculpatory evidence secret, or that he did not present all of his evidence at the hearing.  Certainly, no one in the public has been shown, however, any proof of tampering of the samples or any other proof of a false positive.  Looks fishy, but the arbitrator has ruled so we all just have to live with it.



Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:01 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Why are people so narrow minded? Can't anyone read between the lines and assertain that this isn't over? There are many facets to this case, as you all will find out in the future. What people fail to realize is the only thing Braun had to prove was a chain of custody issue and create reasonable doubt. This is how our justice system was built. It's part of democracy. Word has it that Braun's camp was prepared to defend him with alot of the information that people want to hear to truly exonerate him but it wasn't needed and the rest will play out over time. There is word of a criminal investigation behind the scenes. DNA testing is being done but was said to be shot down as part of this investigation. Not to mention the HIPAA ramifications and the lawsuits that are likely to follow. Ever heard of HIPAA? They are the federal privacy laws and those, along with MLB privacy laws, should have been enough to keep all the uninformed, idiot masses from knowing or commenting on anything. Oh, that's right... we are in the age of "Reality" where people want to know everything and then beat down people based on the little information they can get. To all the people who can't see their head from a hole in the ground... whether you like it or not you are part of these masses.    



Since: Jun 9, 2011
Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:37 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Manny is a gutless weasel.



Since: Jul 11, 2010
Posted on: February 26, 2012 3:35 am
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Sadly, the inconsistency and the unfairness of how fans,MLB and the media view and treat steroid users is the real theme. Everybody does have a right to thier own opinion, but everybody also has a right to be treated fairly. From the gradual leaking of names in the Mitchell report to a one homerun chase and broken record being celebrated while another homerun king is shunned and actually "banned" from playing without it being said publicly. I wonder if teams will be willing to "take a chance" on the media backlash of having a Braun, seeing that they wouldn't with Bonds.




Since: Feb 25, 2012
Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:48 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

Even Manny had the nads to man up and take his medicine.  The Hebrew Hammer is as dirty as a garbage man after a work day.  Just pathetic how he hid behind his lawyers and a technicality to avoid accountability.  You know he is going to catch hell in every visiting ballpark like Bonds did. And he deserves it.



osubucki1
Since: Jan 22, 2012
Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:07 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2012 10:29 am
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

a polygraph isnt a lie detector though. it detects heart rate and pulse in relation to questions asked. basically, how nervious a person is while taking the test. they are inadmissible in court because they are simply not accurate. i think that ryan braun was smart when he offered to take a DNA test to show that the sample wasnt his. the league refused. that, while providing nothing definitive, would go a long way towards brauns innocence. 



Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:45 am
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

This story is really getting out of hand. The MLB drug program is fine; yes it can be improved, but it is not flawed. Braun failed a drug test, appealed and won due to a technicality. That does not mean Braun was innocent, or was framed, or the whole drug policy should be scrapped and rebuilt.

I would be interested if there are any current MLB players who do not defend Braun. THAT would be a story. But for now, Braun and everyone should let it go and play baseball. And let the drug testing continue as it has.



Since: Feb 24, 2012
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:39 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

I'm already so sick of this story it's driving me nuts.  It's pretty damn simple, this isn't a court, it's the court of public opinion.  MLB should offer a polygraph ala Maury Povich.  If Braun really is the victim of some national conspiracy, he'll jump at the chance to clear his name.  I myself would believe in Braun 100% if proper officials validated a polygraph he took.  If not, then Braun should shut up about clearing his name.  A simple test is all it takes


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