Baseball was rocked Saturday by an ESPN report that reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
A source close to Braun, however, said Sunday that although the player tested positive for a prohibited substance, that substance was not a performance-enhancing drug.
The source described the test result as highly unusual, “never seen in the history of (baseball’s) drug-prevention program.”
“When it happened,” the source said, “everyone was just scratching their head.”
Another source, however, said the substance in question triggered a violation of baseball’s steroid-testing policy, even if it is not technically listed as a PED.
ESPN quoted sources who said Braun’s positive result was triggered by elevated levels of testosterone in his system. The testosterone was synthetic, not produced by Braun’s body, according to a later test. If a player exceeds a certain testosterone ratio during testing, he is deemed to have tested positive.
The penalty for such a violation would be a 50-game suspension to begin the 2012 season. Braun is appealing the ruling.
A spokesperson for Braun released a statement later Saturday, saying: "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated."
The revelation of Braun’s positive test is the most damaging drug news in baseball since Manny Ramirez’s first suspension in 2009. It comes at a time when the game had been enjoying a run of positive press after a classic postseason and the continuation of labor peace through the signing of a new collective-bargaining agreement.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement that the team has not heard from MLB about the test and, therefore, has a lack of information.
“Ryan Braun has been a model citizen in every sense of the word, both in the Milwaukee community and for the Brewers," Attanasio also said in the statement. "Since joining our organization in 2005, he has been a person of character and integrity.
“MLB has put a confidential testing program into place, which I personally support, that has a specific review process that must be followed before determining whether a player is in violation. Ryan has issued a statement that there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case that will support his complete innocence and demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. We are dealing with an incomplete set of facts and speculation. Before there is a rush to judgment, Ryan deserves the right to be heard. We are committed to supporting Ryan to get to the truth of what happened in this unfortunate situation. . . .
“I want the Milwaukee community to know that we support drug testing not only because it is MLB policy but because it is the right thing to do."