The bombshell news of the weekend is something you’ve likely heard everywhere already: NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for PEDs and will likely face a 50 game suspension. I believe the test itself was actually for synthetic testosterone, but if there has been any news (which I doubt due to confidentiality issues) as to a specific product in question I haven’t heard it.
Braun will be appealing the test result and resulting suspension, but since no one has ever won a PED appeal before I doubt it will happen this time. Though I can’t say I’m particularly concerned about what happens in that other league, it does look like the NL Central is up for grabs – with it’s two playoff teams (St. Louis & Milwaukee) in turmoil and transition. We may have gotten the impression that steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs were now a thing of the past in baseball, this should serve as a reminder that it isn’t quite true yet. As in any sport, there is and will continue to be a contest between suppliers and consumers of cutting-edge performance enhancing drugs and the ability of the sport’s testing regime to catch them. Braun recently signed a hundred million dollar contract – which his performance deserved – and has been known for power and bat speed that exceed what one might expect from his frame.
He maintains his innocence, of course and there continue to be a fair number of legal but unregulated or poorly regulated supplements on the market that either contain or can mimic the effect of anabolic steroids. Perhaps Braun has simply fallen into the trap of using a supplement which promises the benefits of a steroid without a steroid – and delivers by secretly containing steroids. With the amount of money at stake, players have (and certainly should have) gotten more careful with the supplements they use. Braun should have too – so even if it is true that he not used any PED deliberately I don’t see a reason to alter his suspension. If he hasn’t, of course, and it’s very easy to believe we’re simply left to wonder a few things:
How did MLB fail to catch him earlier?
How much of his performance as a major leaguer has been synthetic?
If he’s forced to stay clean, how will he hit in the future?