NEW YORK — Because of the lengthy appeals process allowed by Major League Baseball's collective-bargaining agreement, Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun might not learn his fate until February.
The 2011 NL MVP is challenging baseball's discovery that he failed his test — administered during the playoffs — for banned substances, including illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
A hearing before a three-person panel reportedly will take place in January. One member will represent the players union, one will represent the commissioner's office. The third is longtime MLB arbitrator Shyam Das, who in essence will cast the tiebreaking vote.
If the appeal falls short — a player has never successfully appealed a failed test since this process began in 2004 — Braun will begin the 2012 season with a 50-game suspension. Beginning with Rafael Palmeiro in 2005, 12 cases have gone before an arbitration panel.
The process takes such a long time because the two sides have ample opportunity to present their cases. Braun, 28, will look to prove that he has been wronged by the process. Creative Artists Agency, which represents Braun, said the positive test involved "highly unusual circumstances" that would demonstrate there was no "intentional violation."
Intent does not absolve a player from a positive test.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio came out in support of Braun. Praising him as a "model citizen in every sense of the word," Attanasio said, "Ryan has issued a statement that there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case that will support his complete innocence. …
"Before there is a rush to judgment, Ryan deserves the right to be heard. We are committed to supporting Ryan to get to the truth of what happened."
Baseball Writers Association of America secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell said there is no mechanism to revoke the MVP if Braun is suspended.