Ryan Braun’s urine contained significantly elevated levels of testosterone – and synthetic testosterone, too – but he dodged a 50-game suspension on a technicality. Friday, he ripped the process, including the guy who handled his urine, Dino I. Laurenzi:
There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.”
Oh, really? Braun put up a tough-guy, I-got-screwed act in front of the media Friday, but not surprisingly, never challenged his actual drug test results. The internet howled, but two baseball writers (that I could find) defended Braun. (See here and here.) Based on Laurenzi’s powerful statement Tuesday, it almost feels like the journalists who had their heads in the sand when Sosa and McGwire and Bonds were re-writing the record books.
Laurenzi revealed the chain of custody he followed on Oct. 1, when he said he collected samples from Braun and two other players at Miller Park. He said there were three chaperons, including his son Anthony, who escorted the player to the collection area.
Laurenzi said he “sealed the bottles containing Mr. Braun’s A and B samples with specially-numbered, tamper-resistant seals, and Mr. Braun signed a form certifying, among other things, that the specimens were capped and sealed in his presence and that the specimen identification numbers on the top of the form matched those on the seals.”
Laurenzi said he placed the samples in a sealed plastic bag, which he put in a cardboard specimen box with a tamper-resistant seal. He then put that box, along with boxes that contained samples from the two other players in a Federal Express Clinic Pack. He said none of the sealed specimen boxes identified the players.
So we can now put to bed the “maybe they were tampered with” logic. Nobody still thinks both of Braun’s samples – in tamper-resistant packages – were both tampered with, right? It’ll be interesting to see if Braun goes down the blaming others path again, or avoids saying anything else out of fear he could get sued by Laurenzi. Braun passed on the opportunity to comment on Laurenzi’s comments when the media asked him Tuesday. How much will they force the issue?
I decided to take a look back at the summer of 2011 to see if Braun had any injuries. MLB players have historically used PEDs to quickly recover from injuries. This is from the Journal-Sentinel on September 18th, by Tom Hardicourt, less than a month before Braun’s positive test:
Cincinnati – When Ryan Braun was hobbled in the middle of the season by an inflamed tendon behind his left knee, it was impossible to imagine him putting together a 30/ 30 season.
“It wasn’t just the running,” said the Brewers’all-star leftfielder. “I wasn’t able to work out. My workouts are such a big part of my routine. I feel like that’s my home base.
“For at least four or five weeks, I couldn’t really work out. I was mostly doing rehab stuff. I was doing as much as I could to get on the field but nothing additionally because we didn’t want to irritate it.” With help from the club’s medical and training staff, Braun was able to get through that period and get his legs back under him. The hitting savant started putting together big numbers again, resulting Friday night in him becoming only the second player in franchise history to accumulate 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. Tommy Harper did it in 1970.
Braun already had 31 steals when he socked two home runs in the Brewers’6-3 victory over Cincinnati, getting him to 30 for the season.
“It’s not easy when you miss time in this game,” said Braun. “There’s nothing to duplicate your timing and seeing pitches. It’s a process. I was fortunate to only be out two weeks.
“For me, the main thing was just the comfort of knowing I could do things at full-speed. I was very tentative at first. I didn’t even attempt a stolen base for six weeks. I didn’t run hard out of the box. It’s just being able to be explosive initially. When you first come back, you’re hesitant.
Anyone still defending Braun? If so, I suggest you read this column, by Tim Brown.