NPR logo

Baseball's Reigning MVP Wins Appeal On Positive Drug Test

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/147308384/147312479" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Baseball's Reigning MVP Wins Appeal On Positive Drug Test

Economy

Baseball's Reigning MVP Wins Appeal On Positive Drug Test

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/147308384/147312479" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. For the first time ever, a Major League baseball player has challenged a positive drug test result and won. National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was facing a 50-game suspension after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone last October. But Braun and his lawyers appealed the decision to an arbitration panel, and now Ryan Braun is clear to play ball. Joining us now to talk about it is NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

Tom, exactly how did this arbitration panel explain its decision today? What did they announce?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Well, the Major League Baseball Players Association made the announcement that the panel voted 2-to-1 to uphold Ryan Braun's challenge to his 50-game suspension. Now, normally, the drug testing process is confidential, but since his test results came out and news leaked out about Braun having a hearing before the arbitration panel recently, the parties involved in this agreed that the announcement was appropriate. The deciding vote on the panel was by the arbitrator, a man named Shyam Das. And Major League Baseball released a statement saying it vehemently disagrees with his decision.

CORNISH: And, of course, I mean, this is historic, right? A huge surprise.

GOLDMAN: It is, yeah. As you said, first Major Leaguer to overturn a suspension.

CORNISH: So what's the reaction from Braun?

Well, he released a statement. He said: I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

Now, is there any indication about why the arbitrators sided with him? I mean, explain to me how you overturn a positive drug test result.

GOLDMAN: I would like to. But no reasons were given. A couple of sources have indicated, though, that it wasn't as Braun insists that he was innocent but that the testing process was flawed, and he got off on a technicality. Now, this could be things like chain of custody, who had control of the drug samples as they went, you know, up the chain through testing? It's a very, very specific process and very carefully laid out. And if there were problems in that, that could constitute enough to overturn this.

Now, if that were the case, that would be a surprise as well, Audie, because the tests were carried out at the highly respected World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Montreal. It's pretty much the gold standard for drug testing.

CORNISH: So what kind of impact is this going to have, this decision?

GOLDMAN: Well, it calls into question baseball's drug testing program, especially if there were flaws in the process. In its few years of existence, that program has established itself as one of the best, if not the best, in major pro sports. For the Milwaukee Brewers, this is a very positive development. Ryan Braun gets to report to spring training tomorrow. The team was looking at not having him for its first 50 games.

CORNISH: NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.