Arbitrators Use Brains in Exonerating Braun

¬†Yesterday, Major League Baseball player and National League MVP Ryan Braun (is his nickname really the “Hebrew Hammer” as stated in Wikipedia?¬† This amuses me . . . ), successfully appealed his positive drug test before a panel of arbitrators,¬†making him the first ever to do so in Major League Baseball history.¬†¬†¬†Braun was tested on October 1, 2011, and the tester, rather than fedexing the sample to the Montreal testing center immediately, took the sample home and stored it in his fridge over the weekend where both he and his son had access.¬† When the sample was finally tested, the results were not only positive, but three times higher than any result in the history of drug testing.¬† A panel of arbitrators voted 2-1 that such circumstances cast doubt on the reliability of the¬†test, and declined to enforce a 50-game suspension that would have otherwise been imposed.¬†

Various¬†reporters, including Lynn Zinser, Karen Crouse, and Tyler Kepner,¬†have reported that the basis of the decision amounted to a “technicality,”¬†Kepner going so far as to say that notwithstanding the decision, “some sort of banned substance caused¬†[Braun] to fail the test, and if he really has nothing to hide, he needs to say what it was.”¬† In other words, “yeah, the test may have been thrown out as unreliable, but it was still positive and Braun¬†needs to explain why.”¬†¬†

Methinks¬†these reporters are¬†missing a¬†VERY OBVIOUS point.¬†¬†The unreliability of¬†a urine test is not a “technicality,” especially where, as here, that test amounted to the¬†entire case against Braun.¬†¬†There was no confession, no eyewitnesses, no corroborating facts of any kind (at least none that I’ve read about).¬† So if that test is mishandled in such a way as to suggest it is unreliable, that finding goes to the heart of the case against Braun.¬†¬†You could argue¬†“technicality” if, for example,¬†Braun hadn’t been properly notified of the test, or some procedure not going to the reliability of the test hadn’t been followed.¬†¬†But the reliability of the test itself?¬† A sky-high result after the sample was kept¬†in an unsecure location for two days, where a third person had access?¬† That’s no technicality.¬†¬†That’s the whole case.¬†¬†

To suspend a player for 50 games based¬†upon¬†such test would be inherently unfair, and I’m glad the arbitrators declined to do so.¬†¬†But Kepner’s and Zisner’s suggestion that,¬†notwithstanding¬†the unreliability of the test, that the public should consider him guilty anyway, is even more unfair.¬† Braun has, from the beginning, strenuously argued that the test was either contaminated or tampered with.¬† By overturning the test results, the arbitrators essentially agreed that this explanation may have validity.¬† In my eyes, no further explanation from Braun should be required.¬†¬†

Welcome back to baseball, Mr. Braun.

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    February 24, 2012 ¬∑ admin ¬∑ No Comments ¬∑  Tags:  ¬∑ Posted in: let's hear it for the boys

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