Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Ryan Braun's Suspension

Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

Ryan Braun's Suspension

Article excerpt


In December 2011, a report surfaced that Ryan Braun, a left fielder for Major League Baseball's (MLB's) Milwaukee Brewers, had tested positive for use of a performance enhancing drug (PED). The use of PEDs such as steroids was banned by MLB, because they could give players who use them an advantage over players who do not. If the report was true and Braun was guilty of use of the PEDs, he would be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season. When asked a few years earlier about alleged PED use by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Braun said, "The best thing he can do is come out, admit to everything, and be completely honest. The situation will die a lot faster if he tells the whole truth" (Fainaru-Wada & Quinn, 2011).

Less than one month before the report, Braun had been named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National League. Braun won the award over Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers by a margin of 388 votes to 332 (Lacques, 2011). He had reached the top of his profession, but had he gotten there by violating the rules of the game? If he had, who would be affected by his actions, and how would he be able to regain their trust?

The 2011 Season

The Milwaukee Brewers' 2011 baseball season was one of the most successful in franchise history on and off the field. While their season ended in disappointment--the team lost the National League Championship series to the St. Louis Cardinals, a division rival and the eventual World Series champion--the team won 96 games and the National League's Central Division title. In addition, they set a franchise record for attendance, drawing over 3 million fans to their home games ("MLB baseball finishes," 2011).

Earlier in 2011, the Brewers signed Braun to a contract that would keep him in Milwaukee through the 2020 season. Even with the loss of free agent Cecil Fielder, one of the team's other top players, the Brewers had the reigning National League MVP under contract for nine more seasons and the rest of their core players signed for the next season. There was reason for optimism among Brewers fans, a group that had not seen a World Series since the team moved to Milwaukee more than 40 years earlier.

The Positive Test and Braun's Appeal

Braun's positive test was obtained from a urine sample taken while the Brewers were in the playoffs. He insisted that the test was a mistake. Braun and other MLB players were tested regularly for use of PEDs and other banned substances. In Braun's case, he had been tested not only since he entered the major leagues in 2007, but also while he played minor league baseball before that. He had never had a positive test before the one that was reported in December 2011 (Fainaru-Wada & Quinn, 2011).

Braun appealed the findings of the test and the suspension that would have gone with it. He argued that "protocol had not been followed in the testing," and questioned "the chain of custody and collection procedure" of the sample that was taken ("Ryan Braun wins," 2012). Specifically, Braun and his representatives questioned why the man who collected the urine sample kept it in his home for nearly two days instead of immediately shipping it to a lab for testing. There was no evidence that anyone had tampered with the sample. However, because there were questions about the chain of custody, there were also questions as to whether the sample that tested positive actually belonged to Ryan Braun. MLB argued that, because the sample was sealed, the collector "acted in a professional and appropriate manner" (Quinn & Fainaru-Wada, 2011).

The arbitrator who heard the case and arguments from Braun and MLB overturned the findings and the 50-game suspension. Braun stated that the ruling was "the first step in restoring [his] good name and reputation," and that "the truth is on our side" ("Ryan Braun wins," 2012). He also made the following statement about the positive test:

There are a lot of things that we heard about the collection process, the collector and some other people involved in the process that have been concerning to us. …

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