Major League Baseball has suspended Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun for the remainder of 2013. Braun, embattled by PED accusations related to the Biogenesis case, is suspended immediately and without pay, according to the commissioner's office.
MLB announced Braun was in violation of baseball's joint drug prevention and treatment program, but didn't offer specifics about Braun's violations. The suspension amounts to 65 games for the 2011 NL MVP, who successfully appealed a PED suspension in 2012. This makes him the first star connected to Biogenesis to fall, though as many as 20 suspensions are reportedly on the way.
Per MLB's announcement, Braun has accepted his punishment, though in his statement he never admits to using performance-enhancing drugs. It's an alarming about-face for Braun, who has vehemently denied PED use over the past two seasons.
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Rob Manfred MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs added:
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions. We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”
Braun is one of the handful of players connected to Tony Bosch's Miami-area Biogenesis clinic, which was exposed as an alleged PED supplier in January. Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta are among the other players who have been linked to Biogenesis.
When Braun was connected to the clinic through a report from Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan and Tim Brown, the Brewers star said he only hired Bosch as a consultant during his suspension appeal:
"During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant. More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples. There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘moneys owed’ and not on any other list. I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch. I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”
Braun's steadfast denial earlier this year echoed the statement he gave in 2012 after winning his appeal, in which he maintained that he was clean and innocent:
"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.
"We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year."
Braun's adamance that he never used PEDs and his one-that-go-away status is why many pundits believed MLB pursued him as hard it did this time around. Braun being the first suspension announced points toward his camp brokering a deal with MLB.
Last week, Michael Weiner, the executive direction of the player's association, told reporters that suspensions would likely come in 2014 unless a player had struck a deal the league. He told the New York Daily News:
“We’re not interested in having players with overwhelming evidence that they violated the (drug) program out there. Most of the players aren’t interested in that. We’d like to have a clean program.”
Now we wait to see what happens to A-Rod and the rest. The first message sent here, with this first suspension? Bud Selig and MLB weren't bluffing.
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