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[ 123 ] February 24, 2012 |

Ryan Braun’s suspension has been overturned. As is generally the case with drug warriors, MLB is furious that pesky things like “due process” and “checks to ensure that evidence is reliable” are getting in the way of a good witch hunt.

Anyway, given this kind of attention to detail I’m sure that everyone fingered in the Mitchell report is 1000% guilty of breaking non-rules. We’d better keep some people against whom there is even less evidence for breaking non-rules out of the Hall of Fame just to be sure.


Comments (123)

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  1. NBarnes says:

    But… Barry Bonds’ head! HIS HEAD, MAN!

    • Njorl says:

      When it comes to things like contracts and suspensions, the letter of the law is important. The “technicalities” exist for a reason. They protect the players rights.

      Nobody has a right to be in the Hall of Fame. Writers are justified in keeping people out if they think they cheated. They may be stupid to think someone has cheated, but that is a different story.

  2. Naive and Sentimental says:

    Oh crap. Why did Ryan Braun have to do that? The appeal was successful because sample collectors screwed up the chain of custody and I just KNOW our VP is going to give a long rambling speech in his “I’m not a big city lawyer” accent, referencing it. This will be made right after we’re told the hiring freeze and raises/bonus freeze continues.

    • rea says:

      Well,I’m not a big city lawyer, but it seems to me that when you have (1) a serious break in the chain of custody, and (2) the highest levels ever found in an MLB player, you have to have serious doubts about guilt. But, like I say, I’m just a country lawyer . . .

      • Njorl says:

        It does seem odd that a guy with 25 clean drug tests gets a record-breaking dirty test when it is handled improperly.

      • Richard says:

        What was the break in the chain of custody? I haven’t read the arbitrators report yet ( haven’t been able to find it online) but the report in the LA Times this morning said that the problem was that the baseball rules say that the sample is supposed to be sent off for testing as soon as possible while in Brauns case they waited two days. Is that the reason for the decision and, setting aside the fact that this was a violation of the CBA, was there evidence presented about the effect of the delay on the test results?

  3. LosGatosCA says:

    I love sports, but really who gives a crap. Sports honors are the definition of subjective. And honestly, with the exception of business bimbo (male and female) “journalists” there isn’t a more ridiculously unprofessional wing of the media than sportswriters. Well, maybe Washington Post editorial writers. And New York Times Op Ed writers (excluding Krugman) and any political pundit broadcast on cable or Sunday teevee.

    It really is amazing how much of the media is comprised of third rate hacks, LGM a stellar exception to the rule.

  4. DivGuy says:

    The point made of BBTF, which I think is determinative here, is that everything in this process is a technicality. The only evidence that exists is the technician’s report of the drug test. If the sample tested was improperly handled, then the test is invalid and there is no evidence.

    This isn’t one of those cases where evidence exists such that reasonable outside observers can judge the guilt or innocence of the accused, and that evidence is not presented in court due to technical problems with its acquisition. (To be clear, I think it’s a very good thing that our court systems have these safeguards, I’m just making a distinction between “technicalities”.) This is a system where the only evidence that exists is the technical report, and major problems with the report, as demonstrated, make it no longer good evidence.

  5. c u n d gulag says:

    If you left the piss to sit,
    You must acquit!

  6. Mudge says:

    He needed a lock on his refrigerator. Here you have a very unusual sample and the opportunity for evidence tampering. Voila.

    But I had to laugh at the phrases “pesky things like “due process” and “checks to ensure that evidence is reliable””. Made me think of home forclosures using fraudulent deeds. Ryan Braun gets off, John Q. Homeowner doesn’t.

  7. Tucker says:

    What ever Victor Conte says. He and Jose Canseco have been the most truthful when it comes to PEDS and MLB.

    Only half joking.

  8. Kurzleg says:

    As someone who follows bike racing in Europe, this sort of thing is beyond aggravating. Testers should follow protocol to the T in order avoid situations like this. It’s the only way for testing regimes to gain any credibility.

    Personally, I doubt that Braun is innocent, but when you have clear failure to follow protocol, then this is what you get. It’s always surprised me that testers are so poorly trained that they abandon protocol like this, basically using their own judgment rather than abiding by established procedure. Maybe it’s a harder job than I think it is with many complicating factors, but it truly mystifies me how such failures occur.

  9. Joseph Slater says:

    Saw somewhere on the internets this quote, which I liked:

    “I wonder how Scott Walker feels about unions now?”

    • David M. Nieporent says:

      Given that the entire steroids testing regime was instigated by politicians waving around junk science about employee health — fans don’t care, never have, never will — I would point my snark in another direction.

  10. actor212 says:

    Scott, the guy wins the NL MVP, never denies the test results, and not only does he walk away, the Brewer fans are ecstatic.

    We’re fucking doomed.

    I say that as someone who believes ‘roids should be legal, too. If you’re stupid enough to sacrifice fifty years of life for five years of glory, then by all means, shoot yourself when you turn 35 and avoid the cancers and such

    • rea says:

      never denies the test results

      Maybe you remember differently than me, but I thought he’d been shouting to the heavens since Day 1 that the results were invalid and that he was innocent.

      • Richard says:

        He had always been claiming that he had not taken steroids and that he would present evidence why the test results were wrong. But it appears from news reports that all he showed was that there was a delay in sending off the sample for testing. But there may be more in the arbitrators report. Is it available to read yet?

        • mark f says:

          I doubt the report will get a public release.

          According to Wiki: he took a follow-up test that came back clean, and TMZ reported that MLB sources stated that the suspicious result were caused by a prescription non-performance-enhancing medication.

          • actor212 says:

            The actual TMZ report quotes MLB officials who make no mention of it not being PEDs. That may have come out with additional reporting, but I think it sounds more like an inference.

            It is of course possible he needed some form of testosterone for medically necessary reasons, but here’s my question: you’re in a playoff run. It can’t wait?

            • mark f says:

              How the hell should I know? That would be between him and his doctor. We don’t even know if he actually took anything, or if something somehow contaminated his sample. All previous tests plus the follow-up were evidently clean, and we know that the tester mishandled the sample that came back not just high but abnormally high even for someone using, so I think he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

      • actor212 says:

        A spokesman for Braun confirmed the positive test Saturday and issued a statement: “There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated.”

        That’s a non-denial denial if I’ve ever seen one.

        The Brewers issued a far more comprehensive statement when the charges were levelled.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      We’re fucking doomed.

      Doomed not to hand out draconian suspensions unless there’s actual evidence? I can live with that.

      • actor212 says:

        No, that people cheer this shit as if it matters.

        • John says:

          We’re doomed because people care about sports?

          • BradP says:

            Were doomed because people care too much to have a rational resolution to this problem.

            It will always be a witch hunt to some, and it will always be a valid and valuable protection of tradition to others.

            • actor212 says:

              Thank you, altho my point was more that freedom dies not with a whimper, but with a cheer.

              • djw says:

                Let’s say this is best understood as a ‘technicality’ (although I disagree for reasons others have pointed out in this thread), and he is most likely guilty as a matter of fact, but he can’t be punished in this case because of mistakes in the handling of evidence.

                What on earth does this have to do with “freedom dying” even in the most metaphorical sense? I don’t understand your mindset at all. If this leads to MLB tightening up testing procedure and sealing some of the unethical leaks that directly led to this embarrassment, I’d classify that as a positive consequence all things considered. If they don’t do those things they deserve to continue to be embarrassed like this in the future. Either way, I’m not seeing how “freedom” is remotely relevant in any case.

                • actor212 says:

                  Wow, the point I was making is FANS WERE CHEERING HIS ACQUITTAL.

                  Sheesh. I do speak English, do you folks????

                • Well why the hell wouldn’t they be?

                • Scott Lemieux says:


                  I would consider society much more doomed if they weren’t.

                • djw says:

                  I still have no idea what that has to do with freedom, let alone dying freedom, let alone why it’s a sign of anything troubling at all, unless you’re a particularly deranged true believer in this little battle in the war on drugs. And since you’re on record as not falling into the latter category, I can’t wrap my mind around where you’re coming from at all.

      • Glenn says:

        You know, Scott, I’m happy for the sport to have procedures that give the players protection from management, and I’m glad they seem to have been followed here. But, really, “draconian”? Had the appeal been denied, then he would have “only” made $4.9M next year for playing baseball, rather than 7.1M. Throw me into that briar patch, please.

    • Njorl says:

      There is a significant possibility that some steroid use could increase lifespan and quality of life. It’s unlikely that the use athletes make of steroids would happen to be beneficial in the long run, but if we weren’t such narrowminded prigs about it, we might be better off.

  11. efgoldman says:

    When I heard the news yesterday, the first thing I thought of was Ollie North, a convicted felon who claimed to be “vindicated” because he got off on a technicality.

    • rea says:

      Look, “getting off on a technicality” means, or ought to mean, getting off on a reason unrelated to factual guilt or innocence. Suppression of the evidence due to a bad search, for example.

      The protocols for conducting the test, including the chain of custody requirement, are to ensure that the results of the test are valid. That’s absolutely related to factual guilt or innocence. “Garbage in, garbage out,” to borrow a phrase from another context.

      Being acquitted because the case against you wsn’t proven is not “getting off on a technicality.”

      • actor212 says:

        But to the general public, which is effectively what we all are, it’s not an evidentiary problem. As with the OJ trial, morally we knew he “had to be the killer,” even if legally there’s no way in the world he deserved conviction. He got off on a technicality, and clever lawyering.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          But in this case, the fact that procedure wasn’t followed makes the evidence inherently unreliable. And this is particularly important because he’s passed a couple dozen other tests.

          • BradP says:

            Is that unreliability a matter of a specimen losing reliability over time as it sat, or is this about the possibility of someone purposefully tampering with the sample?

            If he’s getting off because of a procedural rule meant to not give possible tamperers any leeway, rather than an intrinsic loss of reliability or direct evidence of tampering, then that sounds a lot like getting off on a technicality.

            • rea says:

              Only if you consider the burden of proof a technicality.

              Reread your comment. You’re saying that he ought to be convicted unless he proved that the sample had been tampered with. You’ve reversed the burden of proof.

              • BradP says:

                I’m not saying he shouldn’t be convicted. Those procedural rules are very important and dismissing them just because you think someone is guilty would likely be a very bad move.

                I work in quality control, and everything is process based. There are many times where a functionally good production part will be tossed because certain control criteria were not followed.

                It is quite possible that the handling that occurred in this process had absolutely no effect on the validity of the test. That doesn’t mean you ignore the procedural rules, but thats not going to do much to change the perception of whether Braun used PEDs.

              • Glenn says:

                The rules of evidence are generally intended to screen out evidence from the factfinder that does not bear a certain level of reliability. (That’s not entirely true of course; there are other rules, such as privilege rules, that are designed to protect other interests deemed more important than the truth-finding goal.) And those rules are important and should be followed. But just because a piece of evidence doesn’t meet those rules doesn’t mean it has no probative value. A break in the chain of custody doesn’t necessarily mean that the evidence is completely worthless. We can use our common sense and say, this particular break likely had no effect on the validity of the test, even if that break properly prevented it from being considered within the framework of the suspension adjudication. Whether you call that a “technicality” or not, I don’t know.

                • “We can use our common sense…”

                  Except that 99.9% of us couldn’t explain even the basics of the testing procedure without looking it up, so by “common sense” you (of course) mean “making shit up.”

                • mark f says:

                  “common sense” you (of course) mean “making shit up.”

                  I thought it almost always meant “taking the reactionary conservative position without wanting to have to think about or defend it”?

                • Njorl says:

                  I think any break in the chain of custody in professional sports testing absolutely disqualifies the use of a sample. The money involved is astronomical in comparison to the salaries of those in a position to pervert the system. It’s easy to think that it’s just too far-fetched for someone to tamper with a sample, but a risk-reward analysis would show that it is worth doing if the system is lax.

          • Richard says:

            Based on what I have read, it doesn’t seem to me that what was shown means that the test was inherently unreliable. For two days, the sample was kept in an unsecured refrigerator and then shipped off for testing. The two day wait seems to be inconsequential regarding the reliability of the test. It does leave open the possibility that someone tampered with the evidence during that two day period but, based on that possibility alone, I wouldn’t call the test results inherently unreliable. There may be something more in the arbitrator’s report but nothing so far in the news reports

            • BradP says:

              This is what I’m thinking.

              It sounds more like Braun benefitted from a rule designed to prevent procedural abuse, rather that exonerated by reasonable suspicion that the specimen was unreliable.

              That, to me, would be a “technicality”.

              Although there is a strong possibility that there is reason to believe that the Braun specimen itself was unreliable, rather than just the procedure.

            • L2P says:

              How do you know the refrigerator it was stored in didn’t taint the sample? How does anyone?

              Did he keep roast beef in the fridge? That has steroids in it. They dilute into the air, and could have affected the sample. Or not. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it? But why should Braun, who didn’t have control of it, have to suffer a possibly tainted result because MLB messed up the testing process?

              That’s why we we have a chain of custody, to make sure

              • JRoth says:

                You know the sample wasn’t an open Dixie cup, right? It was a sealed container, sealed with a sticker signed by Braun himself. The sticker had not been tampered with (that we know of – no one has claimed this to be the case).

                I’m fine with the ruling – rules of evidence are important, whether for alleged petty criminals or millionaire ballplayers – but there’s actually no evidence that the sample was tainted. The steroid-spiked roast beef theory is actually an excellent embodiment of the level of science involved in the claim that Braun was most likely clean.

        • rea says:

          OJ did not get off on a technicality. A jury concluded that the case against him had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

        • John says:

          Seriously? There’s no way in the world that Simpson legally deserved conviction? I’d suggest reading Bugliosi’s book. Simpson absolutely should have been found guilty.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Simpson almost certainly killed Brown Simpson and Goldman, but that’s not the same thing as saying the jury should have found him guilty based on the evidence as presented before them.

            Also, rea is right — whatever flaws led to his being found innocent, he didn’t “get off on a technicality.”

            • John says:

              Oh, I agree that he didn’t get off on a technicality.

              At any rate, the prosecutors (and, to a lesser extent, the police) botched the case, but I would say that even with the evidence presented, Simpson should have been found guilty. That particular jury wasn’t going to do it (jury selection perhaps being the biggest error made by the prosecution), but that doesn’t mean that there was “legally no way in the world he dserved conviction,” as Actor claimed.

              • rea says:

                Actually (and god, what am I thinking of, rehashing OJ on the internet?), the evidence at trial left me (and a lot of others) thinking that the LA police had tried to frame a guilty man.

                • John says:

                  I thought Bugliosi’s book did a convincing job showing why this was implausible, but it’s been forever since I ready it – and I was sixteen at the time, so who knows if I’d still agree.

                  Bugliosi’s basic argument is that prosecutorial bungling and Ito’s willingness to let the defense do whatever it wanted were responsible for the verdict, not (alleged) police misconduct, which he argues there’s little to no evidence for. But Bugliosi is obviously presenting a brief, not trying to make a balanced argument, so perhaps he twists the evidence to make the police look better than they should.

                • R Johnston says:

                  The evidence presented at trial in the Simpson case mostly proved that the prosecutors didn’t believe they had a good case. The prosecutors threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the jury, without making any effort to sift the good evidence from the bad, the convincing evidence from the unpersuasive. Throwing in a whole bunch of bad arguments alongside your better arguments mostly serves to distract the jury from those better arguments. The only reason for the prosecutors to have done so is that they thought their good arguments simply weren’t good enough and that they needed to overwhelm the just rather than convince the jury. The Simpson case was an entirely straightforward double homicide and the prosecutors would have taken about two days to make their case if they believed in it, not two months.

                  Why the prosecutors didn’t believe that they had a strong case is a bit of a mystery.

                • John says:

                  R Johnston – iirc, Bugliosi’s point is more or less that the prosecutors had no idea what they were doing. I remember him pointing to the transcripts of Simpson’s early interviews with the police, which were utterly damning and which the prosecution never introduced into evidence.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  I think R.J. is 100% right. The biggest villains were the prosecutors, who seemed to think that presenting a case meant amassing the greatest quantity of evidence and presenting it the greatest amount of time rather than focusing on the best evidence and presenting it clearly.

            • actor212 says:

              Again, legally, he did not get off, a point I acknowledge in my original post on this.

              I was speaking to the perception of the public (specifically, the white folks who thought he was guilty). THOSE folks think it was a technicality.

  12. mark f says:

    The report I read last night stated that the tester did not bring it to be mailed immediately because he assumend, since it was Saturday night, that FedEx was closed.

    Since (1) MLB is pissed about this and (2) the rule is to send it in right away, the pertinent question should be: How hard is it to schedule the test during business hours and close to a FedEx? MLB knows where the players are going to be on a given day during the season and have a reasonably good idea when they’ll get to the park, and it’s always in a major city. It should be extremely easy for the testers to follow the protocol.

    • Richard says:

      But the fact that it was easy to ship the sample that next day doesn’t necessarily mean that the results should be thrown out because the tester was negligent. Unless you can demonstrate that the failure to ship it that day undermined the reliability of the test (which nobody seems to argue) or that there was a significant possiblity of tampering during those two days, I don’t think I agree that the results should be thrown out. Then again, there may be more in the arbitrator’s report than what has been reported.

      • So your position is that the collector’s can choose not to follow the legally binding and collectively bargained rules in the Joint agreement because it probably won’t make a difference anyway?

        • dave3544 says:

          Exactly. Both parties to the collective bargaining agreement specified these procedures, they have to be followed or there can be no punishment.

          It is not the arbitrator’s job to decide whether or not Braun took PEDs, it’s not a trial, it’s the arbitrator’s job to determine if the Agreement was followed.

          • Richard says:

            But as I read the news reports, the CBA says that the samples should be shipped as soon as possible but does NOT mandate that the results are thrown out if the rule is not followed. (its rare that a CBA would mandate what happens if a rule is violated). Its up to the arbitrator to decide if the rule violation mandates exclusion. The arbitrator can decide that a rule was violated but that the rule violation does not warrant suppression of the test results. For example, the CBA might say that the test should be sent by Federal Express to the testing site but instead the results were hand delivered to the testing site in less time than the time that Fed Ex would take. This would be a rule violation but it would not necessarily follow from this that the results should be suppressed. Of course, we all might be talking with more certainty if we were privy to the arbitrator’s report.

            • Richard says:

              And this from Hardball Talk:

              Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun had his 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension overturned Thursday after independent arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that there were legitimate chain of custody issues with the urine sample that eventually tested positive for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone.

              After a thorough review of the joint drug agreement between Major League Baseball and its Players Association — a document that is conveniently available in PDF form on — I’m not so sure that Das came to the right conclusion.

              Braun’s argument during his January appeal in New York City was that the courier who collected his urine made a number of against-protocol moves after leaving the testing area. But were mistakes really made?

              •The courier did not immediately head to a FedEx Office after collecting Braun’s sample following an early-October game because it was late on a Saturday night and he figured the store would be closed. Braun (or, rather, his lawyers) argued in January that the courier’s action was against policy, but the MLB-MLBPA joint drug agreement states that “specimens cannot be placed in a FedEx Drop Box” and the five FedEx Office locations closest to Miller Park are all closed before 9 p.m. on Saturdays. In fact, the location closest to Miller Park — just 3.28 miles away — isn’t open at all on Saturdays.
              •Also, none of the FedEx Office locations in the Milwaukee area ship items out on Sundays. So instead of giving the sealed cup of urine to a FedEx Office employee at some point Sunday and hoping for proper handling, the courier followed the terms of the MLB-MLBPA joint drug agreement (see pages 37-39) by storing Braun’s urine sample in a secure refrigerator at his residence until Monday morning, when FedEx could finally get the shipment to the appropriate testing lab in Montreal.
              •The MLB-MLBPA joint drug agreement fully allows for temporary storage by couriers — people who are trained and paid to handle drug test samples, and do so as a profession — as long as the specimen can be “appropriately safeguarded,” kept in a “cool and secure location,” with “chain of custody intact.” A refrigerator in the private residence of a trained doping officer would seem to fit those criteria.
              So if the courier is allowed to temporarily store samples on his own, and he did so in his own residence, where exactly is the chain of custody issue? And why did Das rule to have the suspension overturned?

              • JB2 says:

                “A refrigerator in the private residence of a trained doping officer would seem to fit those criteria.”

                I disagree – a private residence is not an appropriate place for physical evidence. Would you trust the testimony of a narcotics officer who decided to take the cocaine home with him for a couple days before checking it in to evidence locker.

                • Richard says:

                  The statement above is not mine, I’m just quoting from Hardball Talk. But I don’t see any reason to believe that a drug tester would have an incentive to doctor the sample of Braun so, in that sense, the situation is different from the one with a narcotics officer (who already has reason to believe that a crime has been committed). Remember, the drug collector had no reason at that time to know whether the sample was clean or not since testing had not occurred.

                • JRoth says:

                  This argument comes down to “I don’t think drug couriers are actually trustworthy,” which means that they shouldn’t be trusted to drive 3.28 miles from Miller Park to the nearest FedEx office.

                  I’m trying to understand what is supposed to have happened in his basement refrigerator that he couldn’t have done in a gas station bathroom between the ballpark and the FedEx office. Intruders? You know, from Seal Team 8, which, in its free time, frames MVPs for PED usage?

                  Again, rules are rules, and if there was a legit violation of chain of custody, then Braun walking is a legit outcome. But it’s simply fantasy to pretend that something actually did happen to the sample.

              • John says:

                If the fact that it was done on a Saturday night presents such a problem for sending it off in a timely manner, there’s a pretty easy solution for that.

                • Mike Schilling says:

                  Another Saturday night, and I can’t find no Fedex
                  I got some urine keeping in my jar
                  How I wish I had some place to mail it
                  That wasn’t so damned far

            • dave3544 says:

              I think you are probably right that there is more to this than we know. I think that we can take that this is the first time this has ever happened – the overturning – to mean something unusual went down.

              But still, I’d be very surprised if the arbitrator was terribly interested in the science of whether or not the sample deteriorated, etc. “Was the CBA violated and, if so, how do you make the grievant whole?” Those are the main questions.

      • mark f says:

        Unless MLB agreed beforehand to a set of rules whereby it’s mailed immediately. Sure, a sample sitting on a shelf for a few days may not per se affect the properties of the sample (I don’t know, but I’ll accept it as possible), but MLB and MLBPA agreed that such a delay created the possiblity for contamination and/or tampering and so crafted a set of procedures with that in mind. MLB doesn’t and shouldn’t get to ignore the rules because hey man, it was the weekend, and anyway it turns out the eventual test results reflected poorly on the player.

        • Richard says:

          But the collective bargaining agreement, as I read it, does not mandate that test results are thrown out if there is any violation of the rules. It allows the arbitrator (actually the arbitration panel) to decide if a rule violation warrants suppression of the evidence.

          • dave3544 says:

            Given that “arbitration panel” is made up of a management rep, a union rep, and a neutral third-party arbitrator, I think it’s safe to say that “the arbitrator” decided.

          • mark f says:

            Here’s the link with the CBA and MLB-MLBPA Joint Drug Agreement PDFs. It’s true that, as far as I can find, there’s no specific stipulation for the test to be thrown out for a rules infraction. However, in reference to chain of custody the agreement states in clear terms what the tester “must” do. There is also this (p. 37 of the second document):

            While any part of the chain-of-custody procedures is being performed, it is essential that the urine specimen and custody documents be under the control of the Collector.

            It’s possible this was violated in a way we don’t know about.

            • Richard says:

              Thats possible But if the collector had the sample in his refrigerator until he took it to Fed Ex on monday, it would appear that the specimen was under his control and that this provision was not violated.

              • mark f says:

                Was it a locked fridge used only for these purposes? Was it his regular kitchen fridge? What else was in it? Who else had access to it?

                • mark f says:

                  The bottom line is that someone who’s getting tested is going to have a lot at stake. For Braun and other players it’s the potential loss of millions of dollars and their reputation. For some poor schlub it might be a parole violation or a lost opportunity at employment. It may be unlikely that a sample would be compromised, even extremely so, but there’s too much risk for people with no control over the handling to be lax about it.

                • Richard says:

                  Dont know without reading the arbitration decision

      • JB2 says:

        No, no, no, no. Scientific evidence should not sit around some idiot’s house for a couple days. At that point, it’s no longer “scientific” and has no evidentiary value. And yes, the urine collecter is a complete idiot – someone who couldn’t even Google Fedex and try to arrange for a late pick-up.

        • Richard says:

          That just wrong. It still has plenty of evidentiary value unless someone can show that test results after two days of sitting around degrades the sample (which doesn’t seem to be the case). Of cours its scientific, its just a situation where, arguably, a rule was broken and the arbitrator decided that the rule violation had draconian consequences. If he had gotten the sample on a Sunday, it would have sat around his house for over a day and yet no rule would have been broken. Then again, I would like to see the complete arbitrator’s report before coming to any conclusion but based on what I see so far, I would have ruled the other way if I was the arbitrator. A rule violation without any impact on the relaibility of the eventual testing.

          • Well then you’d likely have been one of the few arbitrators to be overturned by a federal court for flagrantly disregarding baseball’s CBA and you’d quickly be dismissed from your position by the players’ union.

            It’s one thing to find that the rule wasn’t, in fact, broken, it’s a whole other thing entirely to claim that the rule wasn’t broken but you don’t think it matters so you’re going to choose to ignore it.

            • Richard says:

              Read the CBA. It doesn’t provide that all rule violations require suppression of evidence (which, of course, it could have done). It clearly leaves to the arbitrator the question of what rule violations require suppression and what rule violations dont require suppression.

                • Richard says:

                  There’s a link to it in the Hardball article. Without reading it, you really can’t intelligently opine whether any violation of the drug testing protocol mandates suppression of evidence.

                • 1. As a general rule telling someone to read a readily available document is roughly as rigorous as appealing to that well established authority known as “common sense.”

                  2. Your assumption that I didn’t bother to read the CBA is funny. (Hint: try clicking on my name.)

                • Richard says:


                  So if you’ve read the CBA,then why are you claiming that the CBA mandates suppression of evidence for any violation of the testing protocol? As I read the CBA, it establishes no such rule and leaves to the arbitrator the discretion to decide if any rule violation means the evidence should be suppressed.

                • Hogan says:

                  Any CBA of long standing is embedded in a web of prior interpretations, letters of understanding, arbitrators’ decisions and negotiating history that won’t appear in the printed text. I wish we had something like the US Code Annotated for my contract. But just reading the text of the agreement will take you only so far.

  13. Jim Lynch says:

    It’s a good day whenever one of these blood testing outfits gets exposed for incompetence. I despise them, and the truckling mentality that enables them to thrive.

  14. brad says:

    I, for one, have complete and total confidence in what an unnamed source is leaking about what is supposed to be a closed and confidential process because it allows me to act indignant about an otherwise essentially meaningless and trivial matter. It’s simply unpossible that the same people in the MLB who leaked what was supposed to have been a confidential test result in the first place would then tell friendly sports journalists a version of events which conveniently continues to allow them to cast Braun as the villain.
    Further, comments here and, to a greater degree, on other websites show a laudable degree of willingness to acknowledge lack of complete information about the situation such as the arbiter’s actual written decision, which, to my knowledge remains confidential, and as to whether custodial questions were the only possible defense for the reported results or merely the most effective. It very much renews my faith in humanity that we use occasions such as this to remind ourselves of the importance in what we don’t know when casting judgment.

  15. JB2 says:

    I’ll admit – I’m biased: I could care less about steroids. Didn’t give a shit 14 years ago, when it was obvious to anyone with a brain that McGuire was up to something, and I give less of a shit today.

    But I did run a few of the basic facts of the Braun matter past a few criminal lawyers, on both the defense and prosecution sides, who, incidentally, have hardly any interest in baseball, and, to a person, they all started laughing before I finished.

    The guy, or gal, who collects the evidence cannot be the evidence custodian. That’s how we know an item has evidentiary value. Evidence collectors are obligated to get the evidence to a secure place before the end of their shift: End of story. A homicide detective, for example, who decided to take the murder weapon home for 36 hours before logging it in, would would likely have his/ her case dismissed and then be fired.

    It appears that MLB did not have have a contingency plan for early-closing FedEx offices. That’s basically on them. Get your shit together, MLB, before you start slandering your players.

    We have absolutely no way of knowing that the sample sent in by the nincompoop in Milwaukee had anything to do with Ben Braun. I would tend to side with Braun: never tested positive before; hasn’t tested positive since; only positive “sample” (allegedly many times higher than the “limit”) ever collected sat around some guy’s house for a couple days, supposedly in his fridge.

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