Ryan Braun Wins Appeal of 50-Game Suspension Because of FedEx Error?

| by Alex Groberman

In a somewhat monumental occurrence, Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned by a baseball arbitrator on Thursday afternoon. With this victory, the National League MVP became the first baseball player to ever successfully challenge a drug-related punishment.

Shortly after the news of what transpired went public, Braun released this statement on the matter (via ESPN):

I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision.

It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.

I'd also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.

I'd like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.

This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the panel chair and the office of the commissioner.

As I said before, I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.

Everything I've done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.

Unfortunately for Braun, he might be the only one who thinks that his name and reputation have been restored at this point. According to ESPN, the reason that the arbitrator ruled the way that he did was because of a standard operating procedure violation as it applies to dealing with these sorts of tests. As noted by Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn:

According to one of the sources, the collector, after getting Braun's sample, was supposed to take the sample to a FedEx Office for shipping.

But the source said the collector thought the FedEx Office was closed because it was late on a Saturday and felt the sample wouldn't get shipped until Monday.

As has occurred in some other instances, the collector took the sample home and kept it in a cool place, in his basement at his residence in Wisconsin, according to the source.

Policy states that the sample is supposed to get to FedEx as soon as possible.

Baseball officials are now understandably upset at the way that this was ultimately ruled on, and what we have now really appears like a situation with no winners. Yes, Braun was technically vindicated – but for the flimsiest of reasons. And while he did test positive for synthetic testosterone and had a T/E ratio was reportedly more than 20:1 on one of his tests, he tested normally on a later urine sample. It’s very possible that the NL MVP is actually innocent of all charges, but will now have to play with a shadow over him for the duration of his career because of the cheap way this all went down.  

What do you think: does the arbitrator’s ruling mean it's case closed Braun's positive test? Or are there even more questions out there now than we had originally?

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