On Wednesday, February 22, Ryan Braun won his appeal of his 50-game suspension due to an alleged positive urinalysis for synthetic testosterone. MLB players should be thanking Braun and not smearing him behind his back.
Braun won his appeal due to questions raised of the chain of custody of his October 1st sample. Instead of immediately shipping it off via FedEx, as required by MLB collective bargaining rules, the collector stored the sample in his refrigerator for about 44 hours. MLB’s procedures for handling samples weren’t tight, and Braun’s lawyer attacked it and they won their case.
Zeb, George, and I were all court reports in the Marine Corps. We sat and listened through hundreds of urinalysis cases. We know that the government has to do everything correctly by the book in order to gain a conviction. It has to be that way. When a person’s name, career, future, etc., is at stake, the burden is on the government (in Braun’s case MLB) to prove that they followed every step, every nuance, of the rules. When it doesn’t happen, the accused goes free. One misstep along the way invalidates the entire procedure.
Must Braun still address how the synthetic testosterone got into his sample? No, because when there’s a chain of custody problem, you will never know if it was truly your sample that was tested. Sure, I bet the seals, labels and initials on the bottle appear to be intact; but can you be 100% positive with a broken chain of custody?
Hard to believe, but I believe the system won. When you have procedures in place that are not followed, it exposes flaws that will have to deal with it. Before the next player is exposed and vilified in the media, which never should have happened in the first place, MLB will have to address these issues and tighten up their procedures.