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Respect for Ryan Braun

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Posted 02-29-2012 at 06:54 AM by neugey
Updated 02-29-2012 at 09:55 AM by neugey

I'd like to get on my soapbox for a bit about the Ryan Braun situation. What you are about to read will probably go against the common public opinion - which is already labeling Braun as a cheat and a fraud and ready to jettison Braun with an endless and unrelenting supply of taunts this coming season.

But I, for one, have been impressed with the professionalism and maturity that Braun has shown during this process. Let's give this man credit. Given the gravity of the allegations against him and the fact that litigation is currently ongoing, he had the bravery and well-spoken demeanor to hold his own TV press conference after the arbitrator struck down the suspension. Braun didn't hide behind his lawyer - or even stand beside his lawyer with cameras rolling, for that matter. How many other athletes could have handled the situation in this most risky, touchy and public manner and field journalist questions afterard while flying solo?! How many would show much more class than the MLB PR people and the other drug-testing cronies had shown in their press comments?! Not many, I'd bet.

The main fact in this situation is that the sample collector took Braun's sample and stored it in his personal residence for 44 hours before submitting the sample for delivery to the clinic in Montreal. In these days of HIPPA and medical confidentiality, this is a major problem. Those samples belong in a clinic or in a secure location, period. And they certainly have NO place in a collector or physician's personal residence, who will be personally doing absolutely nothing to analyze that specimen. Why in the world could the collector not utilize a safety deposit box or some sort of a secured office location to store the sample in the interim before it can be shipped? There has to be a thousand better options than taking this confidential lab work home with them for the weekend.

Let's think about the people in the public that are screaming that Braun got off on a "technicality". Many of them, including myself, have fulfilled a drug screen for their employer at a third party clinic. Many more of them have had their bloodwork or samples collected with their primary care physician to run tests for checkups and diagnosis. So how would they feel if they found out their personal doctor or trusted clinic collecting these samples, took this lab work home with them?! I think they'd be steamed or at the very least alarmed as to what is going on. Especially if they lost their job or had compensation reduced due to a positive test. A man with any common sense would retain a lawyer under these circumstances.

I think that Mr. Braun and his legal counsel should be commended for their investigative work and exposing some serious flaws in chain of custody in the drug collection process. As much as we might hate lawyers, sometimes they do their job well and expose problems that need to be brought to light.

The drug testing process, in my eyes, has now lost a great deal of credibility. I have always disagreed with how the anti-doping, MLB and other testing advocates simply place the utmost belief in the medical evidence, conducting no further analysis, inquiry or investigation to find out whether the alleged violator is a steroids user, with intent of enhancing his performance. What if there is some medical outlier that caused the bad reading? Could it be that difficult to take additional samples or conduct further investigation? Is it not absolutely heartless and narrow-minded to take one facet of the truth, the medical sample, and automatically place 100% trust in the scientific results and assign automatic and full punishment, regardless of any circumstances? Also, if Braun had to take a steroid for some medical condition which needed to be treated, we'll probably never know because it's a private matter. But perhaps we should. Because then you all might learn something.

The same steroids you condemn can also save lives and treat illnesses. Ten years ago a steroid saved my baby daughter's life. Under doctor's orders, her mother and I gave her albuterol to treat her RSV condition, administering the steroid using a nebulizer every four hours around the clock. Some years ago, a Saints player utilized this same drug to treat his asthma condition, under advice from his physician and with concern for his own health. The Saints player got punished 100% for this - just the same as if he had shot up with a performance-enhancing steroid in plain sight at a Gold's Gym. Just how crazy is that?

In conclusion, I call such behavior by the drug testing czars and fanatics a witch hunt, I call it lazy, I call it a total disregard for due process and consideration of other facts and circumstances. Lab results should not be our new American gospel. I certainly see a window of possibility that the drug testing process has gotten this wrong, as Braun and his team attest.

Go Ryan Braun.
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  1. Old Comment
    MLB dropped the ball on this one, big time. Chain-of-custody is serious business. Keeping urine samples in a collector's basement over the weekend violates chain-of-custody. You would think an MLB CDT (Comprehensive Drug Testing) collector with 6yrs experience would know that and follow the correct protocol.

    It's done correctly in thousands of clinics around the country every day, including Sundays, and in the military. Pro sports are not the exception.

    Chalk one up for the 'Hebrew Hammer', regardless of whether his sample tested positive or negative, the failure to follow protocol invalidates the test. And 'yes', he did handle the whole situation quite professionally.

    I can't believe MLB even tried going ahead with a suspension knowing the samples were kept, unsecured, in a basement for that long ... that is 'bush' league. Kudos to Ryan Braun for standing up for himself.
    Posted 02-29-2012 at 08:07 AM by SloMotion SloMotion is offline

  2. Old Comment
    papz's Avatar
    I'm sorry I just can't see myself siding with Braun regardless of how "classy" he approached and dealt with the process. He can deny all he wants... so did Raffy, Bonds, Clemens, etc. They swore up and down they never touched the stuff yet were all found to be liars. Could it have been the "herpes medication" he was taking... only he knows that. But he tested positive for a banned substance and the fact of the matter is that he did get off on a technicality and deserved some sort of punishment.

    What's funny is that I have no problems with steriods. I work in a clinic and when people are hurt or feeling sick, it helps you feel better. Hell I don't even care if they use it as a performance enhancing drug... the best years of baseball in the last 20 years was the steroid era. Chicks dig the long balls... and so do grown ass men. I just feel if you did do it and go caught, just man up to it and move along. Don't be like those other guys.
    Posted 02-29-2012 at 08:53 AM by papz papz is offline
  3. Old Comment
    I'm not necessarily 'siding' with the guy, I'm just surprised the MLB tried to pursue the charges knowing there was such a flagrant violation of the chain-of-custody protocols.

    I can also appreciate the fact the guy kept it on the down-low and didn't go the denial route or the "my true fans will believe me" route. Who wants to see another media circus as with Sosa, Mcguire, Bonds, Clemens, Conseco ... not me.
    Posted 02-29-2012 at 12:29 PM by SloMotion SloMotion is offline
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