The baseball world was rocked a month ago after news broke that reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for a performance enhancing drug (PED).
Since the news broke, Braun has yet to formally address fans or the media. Instead, he's released what appears to be an excuse as to why he tested positive.
But if Braun firmly believes he's innocent of violating MLB's drug policy, why hasn't he spoken out? A statement through a spokesperson is hardly a strong proclamation of innocence. Braun's camp has insisted that he will be able to explain his positive results, but will it matter at this point?
In the court of public opinion, Braun's excuses may fall on deaf ears. The steroid era has had a serious detrimental impact on the game and I, for one, am not surprised anymore when players are exposed for taking PED's. And as far as I can tell, Braun is not denying charges that he violated MLB's drug policy—he's attempting to provide a valid explanation.
Well, so much for the notion of "innocent until proven guilty."
MLB is in possession of a positive drug test. These are not allegations. If this positive test is in fact Braun's, then an explanation as to why it's positive is irrelevant for the most part. MLB's "strict liability" policy does not take intent, fault, negligence or knowing in account. In law, strict liability makes a person legally responsible regardless of fault or culpability.
According to Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn, investigative reporters for ESPN, Braun's only out is to prove that he did not knowingly take a banned substance and that he was not in any way negligent in taking it. Just like in law, ignorance is not a defense in this situation.
Successfully arguing an appeal is no easy task. In fact, no major league player has ever done it.
I fully understand when criminal defense lawyers prevent their clients from speaking out in public, or in any setting for that matter. It's to protect them from saying something that could potentially be used against them in court. But Braun is not facing criminal charges. If he has a valid explanation for his positive result, why has he not gone public with it?
If it's to save himself from embarrassment, I don't agree with his decision to not speak. If MLB's positive PED test holds up, Braun's legacy will be forever tainted. His livelihood is at stake. Worst of all, he's one step closer to a lifetime ban.