Ryan Braun is one of the brightest young stars in Major League Baseball, so the fact that he will be in a Brewers uniform on Opening Day rather than starting a 50 game suspension should be a good thing.
And it is, for the Brewers and any fantasy team owners who have drafted, or will draft, Braun.
For MLB, Ryan Braun, and baseball’s standing around the world, it’s a mess.
Primarily that’s because somebody involved in the drug-testing process broke the confidentiality that it is built upon and made Braun’s positive test public knowledge before the investigation process was concluded. The investigation process includes the right of appeal before a final decision is made and until this is concluded and a player has been found guilty, none of us should know anything about it.
Transparency is often a prerequisite of showing that justice is done, but baseball has been hounded by suspicions of drug taking and the players have learned how destructive mere rumours can be to their reputation, regardless of whether there is any truth in them.
As soon as Braun’s name was linked to a positive test, there was always going to be a sizeable minority that would label him a cheat irrespective of whether he was subsequently found innocent on any grounds.
That’s simply not fair. If a player is found guilty then he should face his penalty and the public shame, if not then his reputation should not be damaged.
As it turns out, in this case Braun should not have to be facing questions about his honesty. You can say he got off on a ‘technicality’, but if you believe in clean competition and support the drug-testing process then you have to accept that the process resulted in him being acquitted. Every person is innocent until proven guilty. The onus is on the prosecutors to follow the correct processes and to prove their case, which they did not do.
If – and that’s a big if – Braun did do something then those involved have failed themselves and baseball miserably. They should be scrutinising their practices to make sure those who cheat are successfully prosecuted, rather than spending their time feeding lines to reporters about their insistence that Braun was guilty.
It says a lot about how badly this has been bungled that baseball’s standing right now probably would have been slightly better had Braun, the reigning National League MVP, been found guilty.
As it is, MLB’s drug testing process has been made to look suspect, while one of the sport’s best current players will forever have his achievements looked at with suspicion by some even though the process put in place to reduce suspicion in the face of facts – showing the majority of players coming up clean and catching the minority of cheaters – didn’t convict him of any wrongdoing.
Just when you thought – and hoped – that baseball had got to grips with the issue of drug-taking, it’s found a way to shoot itself in the foot yet again.