Monday, February 27, 2012
Did Ryan Braun get off on a technicality?Posted by Mat Kovach
Unfortunately, I have to explain that. A point that is under-reported can be summed up this way: Braun’s defense team provided the exact information about what happened to the sample from the time it was given to when it was tested. As defense teams do, they repeated the process. Yes, they took urine from Braun, repeated the conditions and guess what? They got the same result.
When people talk about the “loophole,” they seem to be describing the chain of ownership of the sample. But the sample was never lost, misplaced, or visiting with Jimmy Hoffa for any period of time. The location of the sample is accounted for at all times.
The problem is that, for some reason, the sample was contaminated by the condition it was stored. This is not a legal loophole, but a serious and repeatable problem specific to this case. If you take Braun’s urine and repeat the steps, you get the same result.
This, is of course, why the procedure needs to be followed preciously. If you have a recipe and decide to not follow it, you’ll get something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike what the recipe is supposed to make.
The questions I have are:
- Why was a sample where the proper procedures were NOT followed even tested? Procedures are in place for a reason, specifically to avoid a questionable result.
- Why was this information leaked, and by whom? Baseball has had two major leaks related to drug testing in 2003 and in this case.
I think the first question is the most important. Braun didn’t get off on a technicality. This is also the reason why MLB, although vocal, probably will not appeal the results. They are not going to put their testing procedures, and their ability to follow them, up to close scrutiny.
Once again, reporters, faced with a PEDs related story, dropped the ball completely. Few are reporting why Braun really was absolved of this charge. Instead, the tone is more like Jeff Passan's:
Make no mistake: This was a technicality. It was a loophole. Most of all, it was brilliant lawyering by Braun’s attorneys. Hundreds of tests had been handled in exactly the same manner in baseball and never before had the players’ union protested their accuracy. Sources from MLB and the union told Yahoo! Sports the chain-of-custody section of the joint-drug agreement is likely to be rewritten to ensure that a defense similar to Braun’s would have no legs. Because even some inside baseball who should be on Braun’s side – players, agents and other officials – see his prevailing as a Pyrrhic victory.
Which is completely wrong. But the MSM being wrong about PEDs is the default standard, designed to enrage and sell papers instead of report what actually happened.
The problem isn't that chain-of-custody. The problem is that while in the chain of custody, a procedure was not followed (and hence, this wasn't like the hundreds of other tests). It was shown that deviation from the procedure caused the results that triggered this.
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