We know that Ryan Braun is appealing his positive drug test in an effort to avoid a 50 game suspension. And we know that said appeals almost always fail. In today’s New York Times we learn why. Check out this standard:
Major League Baseball’s drug policy states that a player cannot simply deny that he intentionally used a prohibited substance, but that he “must provide objective evidence in support of his denial” … To that end, Braun’s defense team is in the midst of systematically gathering evidence of everything he ingested in the days leading up to his test before the playoffs began. The team is cataloging the contents of his locker and his medicine cabinet at home, anything provided by his trainers and so on.
This is almost prove-a-negative territory. You could collect the entire contents of a Costco and say “see, no testosterone here,” and it still wouldn’t cut it. It seems that to beat the standard, Braun’s team is going to have to attack the testing procedure itself, establishing that someone got their peanut butter in his chocolate. Or find out that, somehow, the Gatorade was spiked. What are the odds of that? Not very good.
This isn’t a comment on what Ryan Braun did, whether he deserves punishment or anything like that because — even if there are some interesting possibilities here — we just don’t know anything right now. Such a tough standard is simply what you get when you institute a drug testing regime. The nearly-automatic nature of it is required to make it effective. Otherwise it’s just an invitation for constant litigation, appeals and what not.