'Guilty until proven innocent' process damages Braun - NBC Sports

'Guilty until proven innocent' process damages Braun
If Brewers slugger is right, then drug testing must be overhauled to protect players
February 24, 2012, 10:02 pm

No, there is no personal medical issue, he's never had an STD, and he passed 25 other drug tests in his career, including three others in 2011.

He isn't happy with the initial MLB reaction that he beat the 50-game suspension on PED charges on a sample-collection protocol technicality.

And, he's considering all legal options in light of everything that has made the last four months, 'the biggest challenge I've ever faced in my life.''

This wasn't Andy Pettitte standing before gathered media, admitting he had used human growth hormone, saying he was sorry and asking for forgiveness.

This was Braun vowing during a 25-minute press conference on the field at Maryvale Baseball Park on Friday, "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say I did it. I truly believe in my heart, and I'd bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.''

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What we have here is a complete reversal in MLB's never-ending PEDs mess. After the game ignored ever-increasing usage from the late 1980s to early-2000s, we've reached the point where players are tied to a testing process in which - in Braun's words - they are, "100 percent guilty until proven innocent - opposite of the American judicial situation."

Not only was Braun's situation wrongly and unfairly leaked to the media by a still-unknown source, even when the hearing produced a not-guilty verdict, the accusers don't want to accept that verdict.

"The system as it was applied to me in this case was fatally flawed," Braun said.

If, as Braun said, "I tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity, and with professionalism, because that's who I am, and that's how I've always lived my life," what exactly went on here?

Braun says he knows full well the feeling of being wrongly accused, but nonetheless intimated a possible scenario.

What we do know is that the sample was taken after NLDS Game 1 on Oct. 1 in Milwaukee, along with those of two other teammates. The next 44 hours - the length of time from when Braun's sample was taken until it was sent by the collector to the lab - remains in question in the minds of Braun and his handlers.

"There are a lot of things that we learned about the collector, and the collection process that made us very concerned and suspicious about what could have happened," Braun said.

We're likely to find out the answers to all these questions soon enough, of course. But regardless if the sample was tampered with maliciously, or just by the result of human error, Braun's reputation severely has been damaged.

Can he restore it? And don't changes have to be made to the collection process? This situation is far from over, and very well could be a precedent-setter.

"We won because the truth was on my side," Braun said. "I was a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed. Today is about making sure this never happens to anyone else who plays this game."

MLB players better hope so, because another ugly can of worms in the ongoing PEDs saga has been opened - if Braun's words indeed are true.



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