Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

'The truth is on my side,' Braun says

PHOENIX — Ryan Braun stood a few feet from the batter's box Friday and hit back at those he believes tarnished his name.

Last year's National League MVP insisted he always believed his 50-game suspension for a positive steroid test would be overturned and he would be able to suit up on opening day for the Brewers.

"We won because the truth is on my side," he said. "The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed."

Less than 24 hours after his suspension was overturned by an arbitrator, Braun professed his innocence while questioning the system that allowed him to be suspended for failing a test he took after a playoff game Oct. 1.

"There were a lot of times where I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, attack everybody as I've been attacked, as my name has been dragged through the mud, as everything in my entire life has been called into question," said Braun, a former star at the University of Miami. "But at the end of the day, I recognize what is best for the game of baseball. I can't ever get that time in my life back."

Soon after thanking teammates and fans, Braun, 28, expressed disappointment that the confidentiality of his urine test was broken. ESPN first reported his failed test for a high testosterone level in October. He called the reports "inaccurate, erroneous and completely fabricated."

Braun rarely looked at his notes while laying out a time line of events that led to his suspension.

On Oct. 19, Braun learned his sample tested "three times" the level of any previous specimen, which he said confused him. He said he began "a humanistic" defense by showing documentation he never gained a pound, his running times did not improve and he didn't get stronger.

"I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point," he said.

Braun said the urine test he provided Oct. 1 was not delivered to FedEx until Oct. 3. Baseball's drug agreement calls for samples to be delivered on the day they are collected, and that was the basis for the suspension being overturned.

"There are a lot of different things that could have possibly happened," Braun said. "There are a lot of things that we heard about the collection process, the collector and some other people involved in the process that have been concerning to us. But as I've dealt with the situation, I know what it's like to be wrongly accused of something. So for me to wrongly accuse somebody wouldn't help."

Braun said he was a "victim" of a "fatally flawed" testing system and there is inherent presumed guilt within the process.

"As players, we're held to a standard of 100 percent perfection, and everybody else associated with that program should be held to the same standard," he said. "We're a part of a process where you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. It's the opposite of the American judicial system.

"This is my livelihood. This is my integrity. This is my character. This is everything I have ever worked for in my life being called into question. We need to make sure we get it right. If you're going to be in a position where you're 100 percent guilty until innocent, you can't mess up."

Soon after Braun's news conference, Major League Baseball released a statement defending the testing program.

"Our program is not 'fatally flawed,' " executive vice president Rob Manfred said. "Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors. Neither Mr. Braun nor the (players union) contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering."

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, David Howman, said under his agency's rules, Braun would have had to show the departure from the rules was related to the test result.

Sizemore out: Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore has a strained lower back and will miss the start of the season. There is no timetable for his return. Sizemore was hurt a few weeks ago while working his way back from knee surgery.

Orioles: Second baseman Brian Roberts, who didn't play after May 16 last season because of concussion symptoms, partici­pated in light workouts on the first full day of camp. His status for opening day hasn't been determined.

Nationals: Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he wants the framework of a contract extension completed by today or he won't discuss one during the season. He has two seasons left on a $45 million, five-year deal.

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