The Reputation Assassination of Ryan Braun

Here we go again. Has all sanity left sports? The baseball world is ready to assassinate the reputation of an innocent man. This country is supposed to believe you are innocent until proven guilty. But the tag of guilty has been applied to Milwaukee Brewer baseball player Ryan Braun. When will the public understand what is happening here? What did this flawed drug test prove? Nothing -- that is why it is flawed. For those in charge of major league baseball, your actions have allowed a relentless frenzy by both the media and the public on the good legacy of this fine player. This whole matter is madness.

Ryan Braun is the victim of a term I have coined called the 'mass media hysteria conviction syndrome.' His reputation, his livelihood, and his future are the victims of mob mentality justice exacerbated by the failure of the MLB to own up to its mistakes. Ryan Braun is guilty of nothing. Despite this he is unfairly facing a season of baseball players, the MLB and fans that will continue to believe he beat the system, when in fact he is innocent. The testing proved nothing because it was brutally flawed from the beginning. But Braun must face the world as a convicted drug user. Only in an Orwellian world could an improper drug test be used to condemn someone.

All of a sudden MLB is touting itself as having the consummate drug testing procedure of any entity in sports. The joke is that this Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig has managed to mangle valid drug testing protocols since MLB drug testing began in the 1990s. It took a record season of home runs so out of the realm of reality by Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa that even a dead person could figure out something was wrong. On the other hand, Braun himself is the best evidence that something was wrong with this one test. Braun has been clean for many tests for many years. And his testing after this one anecdotal test was clean. One flawed test does not make a criminal. Only in a kangaroo court (I hesitate to use this animal phrase here in that comparing the MLB Braun test to a kangaroo court may defame the kangaroos) is a positive drug test not subject to scientific validation. No one does steroids one time only. You do it long term to fortify the lack of body power. Ryan Braun is not an example of a steroid bulked player. His home runs have not increased exponentially. He was an exceptional player before the 2011 season. His physique is the essentially the same. Where is his body mass? Where are the 60 homes runs a season instead of a mere 33? That is what the MLB cannot answer. That is what the usual sports world analysts cannot answer.

Would you see this fanaticism about a drug test over a baseball athlete batting 220? Of course not, but here both the media and the MLB have gotten their communal hands around the neck of the current MVP of the NL and will not let him go because he is a celebrity notch in a gun belt. Braun had been acknowledged for several years as one of the finer players in National League well before his MVP status. In another troubling aspect of this case, in this day and age of transparency, it appears that the MLB has not agreed with the union to release this important arbitrator's decision for public peer review, apparently satisfied to litigate Braun's reputation in the media by virtue of the appropriate method for this case- the leak.

There is not one legitimate shred of valid forensic evidence to prove Braun is guilty -- yet he stands accused by both baseball and public opinion with an axe over his head. Note to the baseball world -- this is not the Salem Witch trials where if a grain of salt melted in your hand, science proved guilt! On the other hand, Shyam Das understands flawed forensic science. He was the neutral independent arbitrator who cast the deciding vote overturning the fifty (50) game suspension imposed on Ryan Braun for an alleged positive drug test for synthetic steroids. Mr. Das is an experienced arbitrator whose curriculum vitae shows he reads more than just the sports pages, he apparently also reads the current United States Supreme Court decisions concerning what constitutes good forensic science. Mr. Das' tie-breaking vote (one arbitrator picked by the MLB for upholding the suspension, one arbitrator selected by the players union against) supported Ryan Braun's attack on techniques related to the collection and transmittal of the suspect urine.

We do not even know that the sample was actually Braun's in the first instance. And despite this huge problem, the MLB refused Braun's simple request -- to employ the gold standard of both medical and forensic science -- DNA -- (which has been used to exonerate 289 wrongfully convicted people charged with serious crimes and to convict proper criminals) -- to confirm whether the specimen actually came from Ryan Braun after the questioned collection and storage procedures came to light. How stupid is it that the Commissioner of Baseball and his team would not look beyond this case and embrace good science over sullying any player's reputation? If anyone who loves baseball is interested in fairness and the truth, I highly recommend you read the report titled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward published by the National Academy of Sciences-a premier organization in the scientific community discussing flawed forensic science.

An organization like MLB is not God -- it does not have the sole answer as to what constitutes a valid drug test merely because a procedure was negotiated. The sports world likes to operate in its own universe. But sports and law are inseparable, colliding on a seemingly daily basis. It is time to get out of playing fantasy baseball drug testing. Hey MLB- meet Justice Antonin Scalia.