Re: Ryan Braun
posted at 2/17/2013 10:03 AM EST
(1) The discipline meted out by MLB is for using banned substances. Failing a blood or urine test is just one way MLB can "prove" a violation of the policy. Other ways would be the testimony of witnesses, a confession, or circumstantial evidence such as reciepts or paraphanalia. Obviously, a posative test is the easiest way to prove a violation. A player's name appearing on a list at a clinic that has some legitimate and some illegitimate activities is probably not enough to prove a violation.
(2) Ryan Braun did not "get off on a technicality." The chain of custody requirements are there for a reason: to ensure that the sample is reliable evidence. Failure to follow the chain of custody means the sample could have been tainted and/or deteriorated. The arbitrator found that MLB did not have enough reliable evidence to prove that Braun failed a drug test.
MLB and the union agreed to the chain of custody guidelines. Presumably, they designed those guidelines based on objective evidence that failure to follow them could result in tainted or deteriorated samples. The guidelines were not invented whole-cloth just to be a pain-in-the-neck; they were tailored to protect the integrity of the evidence.
In this case, the arbitrator felt that the failure to follow the chain of custody requirements was sufficient to undermine the reliability of the evidece. Even when the official testified that he kept it safe and didn't let it get contaminated, the arbitrator found that it was unreliable. This is not a case where MLB was not allowed to introduce the evidence; rather it is one where the factfinder, knowing all of the evidence, was not convinced that Braun was guilty because the evidence was flawed.
This is not like a jury trial, where the jury doesn't get to hear that there were drugs in the car because the cops did an illegal search. It is more like a jury trial where the eyewitness has a motive to lie about the defendant, and the jury acquitts because they don't believe the witness. The evidence was not kept out, it was just shown to be unreliable.
Since he was not "convicted," it would be unjust to escalate the penalty for what would be his first conviction to the level of the second conviction.
If you're charged with DUI and you successfully beat it in court because the breathalyzer test was bad, your next DUI charge is not a 2nd, but a first. Likewise in this case. Braun's next conviction for using will not be a second conviction, but a first conviction.