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MVP Braun tests positive for PED

Milwaukee star appeals findings

Ryan Braun, who tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, filed an appeal under terms of MLB’s drug program. Ryan Braun, who tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, filed an appeal under terms of MLB’s drug program. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / December 11, 2011
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One of the best young players in baseball, National League MVP Ryan Braun, has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension, according to a report yesterday by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.’’

The report, which cited two sources, indicated that the Milwaukee Brewers star has been disputing the findings through arbitration.

Asked about the test result, Braun told USA Today last night, “It’s BS.’’

A spokesman for Braun confirmed the positive test to “Outside the Lines’’ and issued a statement: “There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated.’’

According to the report, Braun provided a urine sample for testing during the playoffs, and was told it was positive test in late October, about a month before he won the MVP award.

The report indicated that elevated levels of testosterone were found in Braun’s system and a more comprehensive test found that the testosterone was synthetic, and not produced naturally by Braun’s body.

The report indicated that Braun had a high level of epitestosterone, a naturally produced substance that appears typically in a 1-to-1 ratio with testosterone in the body. The report indicated that once the ratio is 4-to-1 or higher, the player is officially positive.

The Brewers claimed they had no contact from the commissioner’s office and the team had no knowledge of a failed test.

The report sent shockwaves through baseball.

One American League executive who requested anonymity said, “If you asked me what player or players in the game would never use anything, I’d say Ryan Braun would be at the top of that list. That was a shock. Hopefully, he can prove the test was inaccurate.’’

The report indicated Braun had a second test done after he learned of the findings, the test was negative, and his representative hopes to prove the first test was bogus. In his appeal, Braun has to show that he wasn’t negligent in any way. He can’t appeal by saying that he didn’t know a substance wasn’t on the banned list. Those excuses aren’t permissible. He could prove whatever he injested was contaminated or tampered with in some way.

But even that would require a lot of proof.

Braun teamed up with former Brewers teammate Prince Fielder to produce the best-hitting duo in Major League Baseball. Braun led the Brewers to a National League Central Division title with a .332 batting average, 33 homers, and 111 runs batted in. He is considered one of the game’s top stars, and is among the most articulate players in baseball.

Until Braun’s positive test, Major League Baseball had cleaned up its act. The only big-name stars to test positive after penalties were in place were Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro, and a few lesser-known players such as Mike Jacobs.

Braun, 28, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2007 when he hit 34 homers and knocked in 97 runs. He followed that with 37 homers and 106 RBIs in his sophomore season. His power numbers went down a bit to 25 homers in 2010. Braun has been an All-Star the last four seasons. He is a converted third baseman and has become one of the best left fielders in baseball.

Back in April, Braun signed a five-year contract extension worth $105 million and backed it up with his best season. This was the first time Braun has ever tested positive and he had been tested on numerous occasions since he came to the major leagues.

Interestingly, both Braun and Ramirez may open the 2012 season serving 50-game suspensions. Ramirez is a two-time offender, but because he sat out most of 2011, his 100-game suspension has been reduced to 50.

Braun’s absence would be a big blow to the Brewers, who are already losing Fielder to free agency. The Brewers actually beat out the Cardinals for the Central Division title last season, but bowed out in the playoffs.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com; Material from wire services and ESPN was used in this report.

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