Braun’s positive test dims baseball’s glow

Braun’s positive test dims baseball’s glow

NEW YORK - Reuters
Braun’s positive test dims baseball’s glow

In this Oct 9, 2011, file photo, Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun hits during the National League Championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals. AP photo

The feel-good glow that Major League Baseball (MLB) had been enjoying after a thrilling World Series and new labor deal was abruptly ended on the weekend with news that Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable, had failed a doping test.

The initial reports about the test were mixed. ESPN reported that Braun had tested positive to elevated levels of testosterone, which is produced naturally by humans, and that the tests, conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), showed traces of synthetic testosterone.

A spokesman for Braun released a statement denying any wrongdoing. The 28-year-old slugging outfielder faces an automatic 50-game ban if found guilty but his spokesman said he was innocent and would appeal the finding.

“There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program,” it was said. “While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated.”

The loss of Braun for almost a third of the season would be a major blow to the Brewers after he led them to last season’s NL Central League title, the franchise’s first division title since 1982. But the negative publicity over the case would also be damaging and embarrassing to MLB, which had been basking in the success of a regular season that came down to a final day then produced a rollercoaster World Series won by the St Louis Cardinals.

The positive test also served as a painful reminder of the slender thread that holds together the integrity of the sport and its cherished record book, which came under doubt after the Dec. 2007 Mitchell Report commissioned by MLB found widespread use of doping.