Ryan Braun escaped the gallows because the rope broke.
Time will tell whether the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and reigning National League MVP will prevail in the court of public opinion.
But this we can safely assume: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are feeling good.
You wonder if they are holding parties this weekend.
In the City of Truth where Clemens claims to reside, they might even declare a national holiday, though he will probably “misremember” where his residence is located.
While the noose snapped on Braun, who had his 50-game suspension lifted for alleged drug use, it got tighter around the necks of Major League Baseball.
He got a nice boost from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who in a tweet heard ’round the world, declared Braun vindicated. If we knew for certain that Rodgers was attached to Braun’s hip and spent 24/7 with him, we could put some credibility behind his words.
What we do know is that Braun won on a technicality and was not exonerated as he claimed. His lawyers challenged the chain of custody of his urine sample that was collected on Oct. 1 and not sent to the Olympic anti-doping laboratory in Montreal for approximately 44 hours, according to numerous reports
That exposed several bugs in the system, but it did not vindicate Braun. It meant his lawyers convinced one person, arbitrator Shyam Das, that he should give their client a free pass.
The first flaw is the so-called three-person arbitration panel that hears these appeals. In reality, it’s a one-man show. The other two members are MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and players union head Michael Weiner. They nearly always split their votes as they did on this case.
So it left this monumental decision up to one person. He hasn’t said why he voted in Braun’s favor and has 30 days to turn in his
report. The 12 previous appeals by players were denied.
The most famous urine sample in the history of baseball has proved more baffling than Watergate, leaving baseball to summon Woodward and Bernstein.
Maybe we can have an old-timers day for investigative reporters. It seems MLB could use some of their expertise.
Das could be right if he based his decision that the person who collected Braun’s urine sample did not follow the rules agreed to by the players union and MLB, which is in dispute.
Experts in the field argue that waiting 48 hours to ship Braun’s sample did not compromise the results, if the sample was kept refrigerated and there was no evidence of tampering.
Among those supporting the argument are some well-credentialed people, including Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He is often referred to as America’s top PED cop.
The collector in this case testified he received the sample on a Friday and took it home for the weekend because he didn’t believe Fed-Ex would ship it out until Monday and it would be safer, according to an AP report.
Braun’s lawyers seized on that to argue its case, noting there were at least five FedEx locations that would’ve shipped it out that Friday.
An IRMS test determined the testosterone in Braun’s sample was synthetic, ESPN reported. It said Braun did not dispute the positive IRMS test in his defense in front of the arbitration panel, according to two sources with knowledge of the hearing.
Braun’s argument that this declares his innocence and the system is “fatally flawed” is an overreach.
His remarks are disturbing if you follow the trail of misbegotten cheaters.
History has shown us that nearly all persons who use PEDs will take their lie to the grave unless confronted with overwhelming evidence.
Some of those include track star Marion Jones, who claimed her innocence until an avalanche of evidence buried her under a mountain of facts she could not escape. Clemens still insists to the chagrin of many that he is a victim of overzealous investigators.
Braun said he is upset with the system because you are considered guilty until proven innocent. But he has only his peers to blame.
We can’t forget Palmeiro waving his finger at a Congressman, Clemens misremembering, Bonds claiming he is the world’s ultimate victim and Manny saying he never knowingly took PEDs.
There is McGwire refusing to answer questions about steroid use in 2005 and then admitting five years later that he used them on and off for a decade.
The tragic story of Ken Caminiti, who admitted using steroids in his 1996 MVP season and died of a heart attack in 2004, shows the collateral damage from PED use knows no boundaries. Caminiti proved winning an MVP award doesn’t make you innocent of anything.
There will be high school players looking for an edge who might think it’s worth the risk to put chemicals in their bodies to slam jackhammers out of the park or throw meteoric fastballs that batters can barely see.
A Mayo Clinic report says performance-enhancing drugs can be tempting for teenage athletes. It lists creatine, anabolic steroids and steroid precursors as the most commonly abused. The anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone.
If this were basketball, where they say the ball never lies, Braun will not hit a homer this season. But it is not and so we will never know for sure.
But we really know, don’t we?
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112.