Braun coming clean on PEDs … finally

Well, we soon may have the truth, or the latest version of the truth, or whatever passes for the truth nowadays.

Ryan Braun has started offering personal apologies, according to major league sources. He is expected to elaborate, in the near future, on why he accepted a 65-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy. And according to people he has spoken with, he is making no excuses, accepting full responsibility and acknowledging the extent of his mistakes.

The list of those receiving apologies from Braun, as you might expect, is rather lengthy. Braun, sources said, already is reaching out or plans to reach out to teammates, union officials, high-ranking baseball executives and yes, Dino Laurenzi Jr., the specimen collector whom he attacked in his infamous news conference in February 2012. Undoubtedly, Braun will apologize to fans, too.

It’s doubtful that many people will change their immediate opinion of Braun once he offers his regrets and explains his actions. No, many again will accuse him of acting out of self-interest, and such cynicism will be entirely appropriate.

Then again, which would you prefer? Braun admitting that everything he told you before was BS? Or Alex Rodriguez continuing to live in denial, and trying to drag down others with him?

Obviously, it’s all relative when it comes to drug cheats, sort of like asking which would you prefer, a needle in the eye or a 2-by-4 in the mouth? But say this for Braun: Next to A-Rod, he indeed will look pretty good.

We still don’t know exactly why baseball suspended A-Rod for 211 games, or whether the length of that suspension will stand. But Friday’s bombshell — a “60 Minutes” report alleging that he obtained and leaked documents that implicated not only Braun but also his own Yankees teammate, catcher Francisco Cervelli, in the Biogenesis scandal — provided, at the very least, yet another glimpse into A-Rod’s empty soul.

Rodriguez and his attorney, David Cornwell, sounded the usual refrains, denying the allegations. But who are you going to believe, “60 Minutes” or a player who lied to “60 Minutes” when he told Katie Couric in 2007 that he had never used steroids, only to confess two years later to doing just that?

Actually, the more pertinent question is whether baseball has proof that A-Rod obtained the documents. If so, the sport certainly could use that as evidence to strengthen its contention that A-Rod “obstructed” and “frustrated” its investigation.

Braun, of course, previously engaged in different forms of obstruction, denying that he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs. Few have forgotten his news conference from February 2012, after he won his appeal of a positive drug test by demonstrating flaws in the way his specimen was handled.

Braun said that day: “If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.’ By no means am I perfect, but if I’ve ever made any mistakes in my life, I’ve taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point.”

Now, sources say, his story will change.

Braun’s acceptance of a suspension was a clear admission of guilt. He said in a statement that day, “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.” But he offered no detail on what he had done to warrant his penalty.

As it turns out, Braun was something of a pioneer among cheaters, becoming the first player implicated in the Biogenesis scandal to step forward and take his medicine. Twelve other players followed his lead. Only A-Rod appealed his suspension.

No one should expect Braun to apologize for challenging his positive test in 2011; an arbitrator upheld his contention that he was the victim of a flawed process. But it is only proper that Braun will apologize to Laurenzi. No one ever would have heard of Laurenzi if Braun had been clean in the first place.

Now, moving forward …

Clearly, Braun is taking actions to restore his shattered reputation. His baseball career is far from over; he turns 30 in November, and he is under contract to the Brewers through 2020. The only way for him to regain credibility is by making all the right moves from this point forward — and of course, performing at a high level again.

He has a lot of work to do — letters to write, phone calls to make, relationships to repair. Some people will never forgive him, but at least Braun has taken the necessary first step. At least he looks good next to A-Rod, who only continues to stumble.

These days, it’s all relative. Yes, Braun is acting out of self-interest with his apology tour. But at least he’s finally doing the right thing.