When Ryan Braun appealed his 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug use policy, it set in motion the procedure agreed upon in the contract between MLB and the players’ union. Three people: one chosen by Major League Baseball, one chose by the union and one neutral party agreed to by both sides, heard the arguments.
Braun’s attorneys argued that the urine sample had been mishandled. The testing agreement called for samples to be sent to the testing laboratory on the same day it was collected. In this case, the sample was not mailed until 48 hours later.
Michael Weiner, the head of the union, sided with Braun, while Rob Manfred, the official in charge of MLB’s drug testing program, voted for the suspension. The deciding vote was cast by Shyam Das, who is a regular arbitrator in baseball matters.
This is the very first time that a suspension of this kind has been successfully appealed.
Of course, this does not prove Braun did not use any drugs, it just proves that if samples are not properly handled, the results from any tests they are used in will be called into question.
The case also shows something else: the players have good reason to doubt the good faith of the owners in administering the drug policies. Test results are not supposed to be made public until the punishments are official. Since Braun was never punished, no one should ever have known about the test. Instead, sources leaked the information to ESPN in December.
No information has been given regarding the substance that Braun tested positive for, except that it was not a steroid.