Now that Ryan Braun had his 50-game suspension overturned, there is a lot of finger pointing at Braun, who many now view as a cheat that got off on a technicality.
ESPN’s legal analyst Lester Munson went on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” today and discussed how the process failed.
We may never know if Braun cheated, but Major League Baseball screwed up in a number of ways that does indeed cast doubt on at least the process, if not the result…
Major League Baseball deviated from the rules of the collection process
Rather than take the sample directly to a FedEx office, as directed by MLB’s testing policy, Braun’s sample sat on a desk at the home of the collector for two days, with other samples. One issue is that the wording in the testing agreement is unnecessarily vague stating that if the sample cannot be immediately taken to a FedEx office, it must be stored in a “cool and secure location.” Clearly a desk does not meet this criteria, but it is also unclear what would.
Major League Baseball was cheap in picking people to collect the samples
The person doing the collecting, at least in this case, is a part-time employee with other commitments. This collector was limited to collected these samples on a Saturday which may have limited his ability to get the samples to a FedEx office in a timely manner.
MLB refused Braun’s offer to do a DNA test
Taking a DNA test would have been problematic for Major League Baseball because they didn’t know if Braun was using any fluids from other people. But once he made that offer, and if the players’ association agreed to it, MLB should have done the test under the premise that it would be evidence and not a final answer.
MLB shouldn’t have publicly challenged the arbitrator’s decision
MLB deviated from the protocol that they agreed to, and then challenged the decision of a process they had accepted. Instead, MLB should have just said, “OK, Braun won his appeal and his case is over. But we need to readdress the process and make sure this doesn’t happen again for both us and the players.” Instead, by challenging the decision, baseball became antagonistic in a process that requires cooperation.
How does Major League Baseball move forward?
MLB needs to go back to the basics and clean up the testing procedure and remove any doubts that may arise. Baseball also needs to stop being cheap, and hire full-time employees to administer these tests. If they are serious about cleaning up the game, they need to be serious about the process that is supposed to do that.
Baseball should also make DNA testing a part of the process for positive tests. Again, it doesn’t have to be the final answer, but it should be submitted as evidence when there is doubt.
But most importantly, what we see is that the testing process has a long ways to go and we now know that it baseball and the players need to go back to the drawing board to try and avoid situations like this that just hurt both sides.
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