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Braun vs. the Collector: they could both be right, you know

Feb 29, 2012, 8:08 AM EDT

braun getty wide Getty Images

I was busy fighting crime yesterday afternoon when the sample collector from L’affaire Braun offered his statement. After that a bunch of people emailed me with some variation of “Ah-ha! Braun is a dirty stinkin’ lying cheater and the arbitrator was in the bag for him! Apologize now.”

OK, maybe the emails weren’t quite so extreme, but they were close. And they’re right about one thing: the statement of the collector does call for some response.  Here’s my response: Well, OK.

I say “well, OK,” because I’m not sure what else can be said. On the surface he seems to be offering a pretty sharp rebuke of Braun. And probably a not-underserved one. At the moment — and, as I’ll argue in a second, the moment matters — Braun’s statement the other day was a bit extreme for a guy who won a procedural victory, even if I still maintain that a procedural victory is significant.  He didn’t really need to point the finger so directly at the collector even if mistakes were made in the process.  It’s totally understandable that the guy felt the need to come back with a strong statement of his own.

As for the substance of the statement: look, there are a lot of things about all of this that seem like people calling each other liars, but it seems more like people talking past each other.

Braun’s people say there were a bunch of places open to receive the sample, the collector says that there weren’t any places that could ship the sample. Those things aren’t necessarily in conflict. The collector says that he followed the procedures set down by his employer, the arbitrator ruled that the procedures articulated in the Joint Drug Agreement weren’t followed. Those statements aren’t necessarily in conflict either. Indeed, the crux of it could very well be that the collector did everything he was told and trained to do by his employer but what he was told and trained to do didn’t conform to what the league and the players agreed upon when they set the system up.

Anyone who has worked in a large organization can relate to how that kind of thing happens. Mistakes and lack of adherence to formal protocols get baked into the process and become accepted procedures over time.  Which is fine when they’re just normal workplace rules, but which aren’t fine when they’re rules that were the product of sensitive, complicated and high stakes collective bargaining. If the union doesn’t object to that, they risk waiving what they fought so hard for in negotiations.

And it could be that those ad hoc procedures make sense.  Field experience trumping design, you know. Could very well be that the Joint Drug Agreement now gets amended to actually formalize the procedures that have been used, albeit in an unauthorized fashion, before now.  That doesn’t vindicate that unauthorized past use — rules are rules — but this could all be part of a healthy evolution of the testing system, with Braun’s specific example being but a footnote in the future.

The important thing at present, however, is that we won’t have ultimate resolution of the seeming discrepancies between Braun and the collector until we see the arbitrator’s decision. To see what, exactly, he took issue with in the procedures that were employed and why he found them significant.  Until then, anyone not privy to the decision who either (a) attacks the collector; or (b) belittles Braun’s procedural defense are just guessing.

164 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    1) I was in a doctor’s office yesterday afternoon, so I am curious about Craig’s comment that he was fighting crime at the same time.

    2) We do not know all the facts about the confidential hearing to really know why the decision was made.

    3) Former hockey great, Henri Richard is 19 today. He won a record 11 Stanley Cups in his career.

    • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      11 cups by age 19. that may literally be the most impressive thing i have ever heard

    • CJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      that Henri Richard is a slacker. What’d he do the other 8 years of his life?

    • shockm - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Actually he is only celebrating his 18th birthday. 2000 wasn’t a leap year.

      • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        yes it was… 2100 is but 200 was

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        You are right. He is only 18.

    • cur68 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Happy Birthday Henri. I myself will turn 44 in April…which is a shame, considering the the slight of hand the Henri is pulling. Still, happy birthday.

  2. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Craig, it would be nice if Braun had chosen to follow your advise. He did not, he chose instead to directly attack the collector. But, I guess, that is what passes for class in his circles.

    Me, I am waiting for the lawsuits that big boy Braun promised. But, of course, Braun won’t follow through on his lawsuits will he? There is nothing like a good lawsuit or two or three to really find the truth of the matter.

    While I am not too worried that PEDs have “destroyed” the game, Braun failed a test for a PED that would have a enhanced his performance immediately during a playoff game. That gives me pause as it is an awful lot like doping a horse before the big race. For me, I go with a Scotch verdict for Braun, “not proven guilty”.

    • kopy - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      We’re throwing the “class” card out there now?

      MLB said they were looking into legal action too, which was obvious posturing as well. Give it a rest and wait until we find out why the arbiter repealed the suspension.

    • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

      “Braun failed a test for a PED that would have a enhanced his performance immediately during a playoff game.”

      Can you show how exactly it would have done so please?

      • CJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:01 AM

        clearly, it was either some of Popeye’s spinach or a flask of 5 Hour Energy.

        Those are about the only two things that could enhance “performance immediately during a playoff game”.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        Hopefully not both though….that’d be double PED…

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        Extra testosterone (like amphetamines and cocaine) gives one an immediate boost. In the 80s RPs that could throw in the upper 90s came out of the ‘pen after doing a line or two of coke and were, well, unhitable. Testosterone is not quite coke, but it does pep males up way more than spinach or 5 Hour Energy. That’s why it is on the banned substance list and doobees aren’t.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        I was unaware of that study. Pancho, can you please provide a link to the primary article?

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM

        Here’s a link for you phillyphreak

        The link details testosterone’s effects on humans in general and males in particular. Do you seriously think that testosterone has no affect on performance? Two of testosterone’s effects are: 1) mental and physical energy (boy would that help in a playoff game) and 2) maintenance of muscle trophism (nothing quite like having those tired muscles rejuvenated after a tough game the night before).

      • phillyphreak - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:19 AM

        OK, where to begin. Wikipedia is nice but (see my post on page 2) it doesn’t make you right.

        ” Two of testosterone’s effects are: 1) mental and physical energy (boy would that help in a playoff game) a”

        – There are lots of things that give people mental and physical energy. Caffeine is legal right? That has an effect on energy levels. Natural sugars can also have a short term effect on energy levels.

        “maintenance of muscle trophism (nothing quite like having those tired muscles rejuvenated after a tough game the night before).”

        – Do you know what trophism means? It means, loosely, that the muscles still have nerves, blood supply etc to maitin their function (so they don’t atrophy).

        It seems to me that you think testosterone is a magic drug

      • phillyphreak - Mar 1, 2012 at 6:28 AM

        Ok wasn’t finished but HBT went loopy…

        So it seems to me that you think testosterone is this magic drug that within 24 hours will make someone perform significantly better than another player. I’m not arguing about the medical effects that testosterone has on people. But two things

        1) I asked for a primary article to back up your claims. That means not Wikipedia. Wikipedia isn’t always right and has a LOT of misinformation. This statement doesn’t mean that those effects listed on Wikipedia are wrong, but my guess is that there is a LOT more physiological things that go into establishing those connections and it’s not quite as simple as those things you pasted directly from Wikipedia.

        2) More to the point of testosterone and steroids, it has never been shown how much better they make players. Does taking steroids result in an extra 10 HR or 1HR? They don’t improve swing paths, throwing motions, baseball instincts though. I’m not saying they don’t help, but I’m saying that their effect is probably overblown

        (Ed Note: This post is not intended to be read as support for Braun)

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:01 AM

        I just have to wonder why you think testosterone is on the list of banned substance if it has no effect on performance?

      • phillyphreak - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:11 AM

        If you actually read my post above you would see that I said that they can help performance. What I’m not sold on is how MUCH they actually help. They won’t turn a nobody into a 50HR hitting monster. I think the fan overrates the impact.

  3. Jonny 5 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    I’ll say it again. In my line of work when a person breaches the protocol of a procedure we trash the result.

    UNLESS, the result of the work is too valuable. Then what we do is go about spending lots of money recreating the breach of protocol and then extensively testing the result to prove that this breach doesn’t impact the final result enough to toss the original results. In my mind it’s very important and valuable for MLB to prove it’s testing program is sound in this case. If in fact there is synthetic testosterone in the sample, I feel he’s guilty and got off easy as synthetic hormones don’t create themselves through temperature changes, or any other accidental issue with storage for that matter.

    • heynerdlinger - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      Not to be crass or sound like an asshole, but how is your line of work relevant?

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        My line of work is irrelevant. I’m only displaying that there are very acceptable ways of proving that just because a procedure isn’t followed to the exact letter, it may not mean that it will change the end result. And if it’s acceptable in my line of work (keeping sailors lives and billions of dollars worth of nuclear powered attack submarines safe and in working order) You better believe it can be applied to piss samples.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Again, not to be an ass, but are you suggesting that the military doesn’t have rules and regulations that have to be followed for no purpose other than to follow them?

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        No, I’m saying that when protocol is broken (we aren’t even sure it was) and it’s worthwhile to the cause, there are ways of proving the breach of protocol never effected the final result in a negative way. Or that it did effect it but not in any way that deems the results invalid. If they were to recreate the storage of the Braun piss exactly as was done in this case, and even to a much higher extreme, and prove those results were still good, then it proves the “breach of protocol” did nothing to change the original result.The procedure outlines are there for a reason, but are usually designed to fall well within a predetermined safety zone, so if one wanders outside of the parameters slightly it still wouldn’t make a difference. I can’t explain this in any more detail than that I think.I’m only saying that it’s very possible for MLB to prove their system works perfectly in the exact set of circumstances, and probably should if for nothing else but to get their program straightened out.

  4. thehypercritic - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    Getting beyond Braun and the collector, given what people say off the record it’s fairly clear at this point that MLB leaked the results in December because they knew there were major problems with the testing procedure in this case.

    Why the league would attempt to railroad a superstar (revenue machine) they had no definitive proof was guilty of breaking their absurd rules is beyond me, but if someone can provide a logical case for the league actively trying to sully its reputation and in turn drive down revenues by attacking an athlete exonerated by the toughest testing system in American team sports I’d like to hear it.

    And if you have no reason why MLB is acting irrationally (which would likely end up in the replies) please don’t offer a thumbs down based on the vaguely moralistic opinion that drunken sportswriters of yesteryear held that science shouldn’t help athletes achieve their full potential.

    • Pierre Cruzatte - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      “Exonerated” and “not punished” are not the same thing. I think you meant to say the latter.

      • thehypercritic - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:55 AM

        No. There was so little fact based evidence that if the people involved had any integrity we wouldn’t be aware of the situation.

        Comments like yours make the people who prentend use of PEDs is cheating rather than rule-breaking look rational.

      • thehypercritic - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM

        Also, you may have noticed, the trolls who agreed with your nonsensical position offer a thumbs down rather a legitimate retort because they have none.

        The emperor, Bud Selig, has no clothes. He’s conducting a witch hunt against the game’s elite while offering lip service to protecting the game — as if they could be separated.

        There is no logical, rational defense for MLB’s actions and the longer we wait for Selig to apologize for league’s behavior the harder the sport will be hit.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        Also, you may have noticed, the trolls who agreed with your nonsensical position offer a thumbs down rather a legitimate retort because they have none.

        I think you are confusing a lack of a “legitimate response” with “realizing some people will cling to their fandom so tightly in the face of anything else that it’s not worth the time.”

    • chadh88 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Braun is a Star…maybe a superstar, but I don’t think quite yet. The facts are that he had been getting progressively better and in the playoffs in his best season yet including winning the MVP. Oddly, but not surprisingly a tainted sample of his urine was found during the playoffs. MLB likely thought that exposing Braun would be a good thing for a couple of reasons:

      1.) It got MLB tops sports coverage during the peak time of the NFL season.
      2.) They did not expect Braun to get off, but MLB has done alright lately with stars/former stars admitting they had a weak moment/did something stupid and it affects the player way more than MLB as a whole.
      3.) Superstars come and go anymore with all of the 1-2 year wonders in this league. There are plenty of bigger names that are supposedly clean and more stars on the way.

      Bottom line…this hurts Braun for the rest of his life and MLB got people talking about MLB (no press is bad press) and I seriously doubt MLB is losing viewers over this.

      Disclaimer: I am a Cardinals fan, and admittedly this will make for some fun heckling during Brewers games this year, I don’t believe affects my view of the situation.

    • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      How do you jump to the conclusion that MLB leaked the results because they knew there were major problems with the testing procedure in this case? They did have definitive proof – he failed his test.

    • Jack Marshall - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Rules-breaking that allows a player to have an illicit and secret competitive edge over those who are following the rules is, by definition, cheating. Your position is nonsense.

      Remind me not to trust you to do, well, anything.

  5. AJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Thus feels like the start to the slowest backpedal in blogger history.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      Please explain how this is a backpedal.

      • AJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        Cmon Craig! It’s not yet a full backpedal but you’re well on your way.

        First you come out with the “people who say Braun got off on a technicality are wrong” post which really didn’t make any sense at the time considering that, you know, he got off on a technicality and all. In the interim Braun got up and proffered, as you pointed out yourself, a rather defiant defense wherein he blamed the individual collector of his sample and hinted at the idea that his sample was tampered with. As has been covered here and elsewhere, the general consensus around the testing world and those familiar with the testing process has suggested that any of the described “irregularities” (and many wouldn’t even concede that irregularities even exist in this case) in the shipment of Braun’s sample to the testing lab result in nothing more than harmless error.

        Now you write a post where you acknowledge yourself:

        “Braun’s statement the other day was a bit extreme for a guy who won a procedural victory, even if I still maintain that a procedural victory is significant.” -Craig Calcaterra

        First, you’ve drawn a distinction without difference between a “procedural victory” and a “technicality.” They are one and the same. Second, you are leaning so heavily on the importance of “the process” that you are ignoring the fact that this process, like any other, leaves room for variables and unforeseen circumstances. I’m not going to argue about the specific storage of the sample or if it was appropriate that it was not shipped immediately or not, that debate has happened all over every comment section of every one of these posts and does not need to be revisited. Clearly I’m on the side of the sample collector.

        What I do take major issue with is the fact that you’re indirectly creating what is tantamount to a red herring with your contention that “the process” is far any away the most important, and essentially, the only issue at stake here. I’ll agree that it is AN issue at stake here, but it is not the ONLY issue at stake. This business that gets us all so fired up on these message boards isn’t investment banking, real estate, or the law… its baseball. Unlike the other fields I listed, the game plays out in the public eye in front of millions of fans. Accordingly, the perception of an individual player, particularly a huge star like Ryan Braun, matters a great deal. To suggest that the central question of whether Ryan Braun cheated or not is unimportant because the sainted “process” is all that matters is ridiculous. The point is, all of it matters, the “process” is just a part of sequence of events that was set into play by the decisions Ryan Braun chose to make because, let’s be realistic, the truth matters too, it matters a great deal. This is not an either or proposition.

        You did what you’re paid to do, and do very well by the way, you delivered an instant opinion on a hot button issue in your original “technicality” article that took a strong position in defense of the decision of the arbitrators. Now you’re starting to cede a little bit of ground to the sample collector based upon new information. I’m not suggesting that you are ever going to fully agree with me, but clearly, you’ve begun to backpedal.

      • El Bravo - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        AJ makes a solid point, brah.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        “First you come out with the “people who say Braun got off on a technicality are wrong” post which really didn’t make any sense at the time considering that, you know, he got off on a technicality and all.”

        If you read any of my posts or my earlier comment above, you’d understand what I meant by that. The term “technicality” is not a legal term of art. It’s a perjorative that people use when they hate an outcome. “Did Braun win?” “Pfft! On a technicality.” Its use assumes that the reason for the outcome was unimportant and that it was unjust. In this case, as I’ve argued at length, that is not true.

        “What I do take major issue with is the fact that you’re indirectly creating what is tantamount to a red herring with your contention that “the process” is far any away the most important, and essentially, the only issue at stake here.”

        I don’t believe it’s the only issue. But it’s the only one that matters for the future (i.e. other people will be tested and the procedures will matter). Also, about 85% of the comments here and opinion and reporting elsewhere seem to focus exclusively on the “Braun tested positive” stuff. I just feel the need to highlight that that is not all that matters.

        “Now you’re starting to cede a little bit of ground to the sample collector based upon new information.”

        Find one instance where I attacked the sample collector, thereby rendering my opinion here as “ceding ground.” I have said repeatedly — based on the arbitrator’s decision — that the process was screwed up. That is what the arbitrator has concluded. We’ll know why for sure when he releases his decision. It could have been messed up any number of places. If I had to guess right now it was in the instructions that the collector was given which, through no fault of his own, he followed, even if they didn’t adhere to the JDA.

        I take broader issue with your implication, however, that it’s bad for someone to change their position on something when new information comes to light. Basing one’s position on information is how reason and logic work. If something new popped up this afternoon which changes everything, should I stick to my guns in ignorance or should I risk being accused of [gasp!] a “backpedal?”

        I base my opinions on the information at hand. Nothing more, nothing less. In this case I don’t think any new significant information has come up since it broke last week and as such I have not changed my opinion on the matter. However, if one keeps the same opinions in light if changing evidence, one is a fool, and I will gladly be called a “backpeddlar” in such an instance.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        “Find one instance where I attacked the sample collector, thereby rendering my opinion here as “ceding ground.”

        “Kinkos still exists? Cool! Of course, back when people used to use them, they were always open 24 hours, so I’m not sure what this urine collector was thinking. Guess he never had to print out a term paper back in 1992 like the rest of us.”

        You insinuated the collector was too stupid to find an open Fed Ex.

        “If you’re friends with this particular collector, by all means, ASK before grabbing anything out of his fridge. You may think you’re drinking some exotic chilled shot when, in reality, you’re taking a little part of Vicente Padilla home with you.”

        You insinuated the collector did a sloppy job by storing samples in a fridge with his food and drink – without any factual evidence to back it up.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        You apparently don’t understand what a joke is. Good to know.

      • nolanwiffle - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        Making a joke about the man’s proficiency in performing his work duties is sort of an attack…

        Point to AJ

      • AJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        Kudos to blabidibla… joke or not, you have questioned the credentials and methods of the sample collector. You don’t get to back off of those statements just because they were phrased in an amusing manner.

        More importantly, I’m all for the last part of your response. You should absolutely alter opinions based upon new salient facts and, to a degree, you have done that. My initial comment was meant to be taken as more of a joke (quoting a famous blogger, “You apparently don’t understand what a joke is. Good to know.”) based upon the fact that you have taken such a strong and seemingly unflinching stance on this issue from the get go. I certainly have no problem with you writing evolving informed opinions, in fact, that’s why I read this blog every day. Perhaps I’m even backpedaling myself a little bit right now so, touche.

        Again though, you drop this line:

        “I have said repeatedly — based on the arbitrator’s decision — that the process was screwed up.”

        Is it possible that the arbitrators decision is… wait for it… incorrect? Is it possible that the arbitrator was swayed by the typical hide the ball and misdirection nonsense that any good defense attorney uses when their client is a person who has been caught red handed doing something wrong? You seem to all but close the door on the notion that the arbitrator simply got it wrong and the collection process wasn’t really screwed up at all.

        Anyway, just my two cents. I think you are placing a great deal of importance on the process aspect of this case (and rightfully so) as it applies to future applications in the testing program but doing so at the cost of ignoring the obvious importance of the result in this particular instance as it relates to the individual player. Braun being guilty and the process having not been followed to a T are not mutually exclusive propositions. Simply put, the truth as it relates to Ryan Braun matters too.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        Craig, that’s not fair. Jokes at another expense are attacks on their character. I got the joke, i just didn’t find it funny since it wasn’t based in truth like a good joke should be. Otherwise it’s just vindictive and mean spirited.

        I like your work Craig, I just think you’re wrong here.

      • spindervish - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        Hiding behind “just kidding” strikes me as the weakest of weak shit, even if you were, in fact, just kidding.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

        I don’t see a backpedal. I also am confused to those who say they like Craig’s work are surprised to see these jokes (whether you like them or not) in his posts. I would wager that if the reader takes offense to those comments, it’s not because they find them offensive (or they would post this stuff all the time) but it’s because they think Craig is sticking up for Braun and they do not like that.

        Carry on….

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        To clarify, I wasn’t offended or surprised by his jokes. I didn’t agree with the premise of them.

      • saints97 - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:53 PM

        Craig, it takes about 5 minutes to go onto FedEx’s website, search for a drop location, type in the Miller Park address, put a 50 mile parameter in, and see all of the FedEx drops within 50 miles of Miller Park. On those drops, you will easily see that the latest that a Saturday package can be received for Monday delivery is 5:00PM local time.

        Now that it has come out that the guy finished up around 5:00 (and this is easily verifiable through park security cameras). So, if using FedEx (which is the carrier stipulated in the agreement), the soonest it could have gotten to the lab is Tuesday.

        So do you think that a drop box is a better (more secure) location to leave the sample of a private residence?

        Again, this is all easily verifiable information that shoots down yet another lie out of the Braun camp.

  6. kwphilly4for4 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Craig can we get a hold of the actual protocal and possibly the deciding arbiter’s decision?

    The only thing that seems odd to me is that with what is inferred by everyone’s comments and pro Braun crowd, is that if this is a bad test result then by that logic tests could only be take Monday through Thursday which kind of kills the random part of random drug testing.

    One more thought, doesn’t the fact that these tests are fed-ex’ed in the first place an indication that urine in a sealed container is fairly stable?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      Craig can we get a hold of the actual protocal and possibly the deciding arbiter’s decision?

      Others have mentioned it’ll be released in 30 days (from the decision, so it’s what, 27 days now?)

      The only thing that seems odd to me is that with what is inferred by everyone’s comments and pro Braun crowd, is that if this is a bad test result then by that logic tests could only be take Monday through Thursday which kind of kills the random part of random drug testing.

      No, that’s not what they are saying. Those in the “pro-Braun crowd”, whatever that means, are saying that protocol says you must do A, then B, then C. If you skip a step, or insert A1 after A, then protocol was not followed and the test should be invalid. That’s it. That’s all they are arguing.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:58 AM

        My guess is the “pro-Braun crowd” are the ones who believe in civil liberties, and maintaining the rights of workers to continue being paid for their chosen profession. I’m guessing the “anti-Braun crowd” believe in busting unions and that corporations are, indeed, protected individuals.

      • djpostl - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Problem is based on what the collector said he followed protocol.

        The sample could not get to the nearest FedEx place by 5 pm (which when contacted said FedEx place said to get the item out that night it had to be in-house no later than 5 pm) so he took it home and followed the protocols laid out for properly storing the samples.

        There is no sign of tampering and there is no scientific reason put forth that delaying the sample by those two days affects results in a negative way.

        The ONLY issue is the wording in the bargaining agreement that reads the samples must arrive at the lab within 24 hours.

        That is both the definition of a technicality at its most extreme and does seem to preclude any kind of testing on Saturdays since they’d have little to no chance of getting to a FedEx on time.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        djpostl, I don’t see where it says they need to be in the lab within 24 hours. Can you show me where that clause is? not saying you’re wrong, I just haven’t seen it.

    • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      I posted the protocols below. Arbiters statement not yet available.

  7. randygnyc - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Again, there was a breakdown in protocol. Process matters and that’s the only reason Braun got off. Craig, your being obtuse or intentionally disingenuous by not even addressing the most important facts here. The sample was good. It was Brauns. It wasn’t tampered with. It had unexceptable levels of synthetic testosterone in it. Braun put that testosterone in the cup with his sample. That’s the whole story.

    • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      According to Will Carroll, Braun’s camp was able to reproduce the “bad test” so to speak…..

      Either way, you can’t be so naive to think that you have the whole story here.

      • jdub01984 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        The question I have is if Braun’s high levels of synthetic testosterone were from the way the sample was sealed in the bottle, then placed in the sealed bag, placed in a box with tamper-evident tape, placed in a fedex mailer, and then ultimately stored in the rubbermaid container in the collector’s basement, then why did the other 2 anonymous samples stored precisely the same way not also have the same highly elevated levels of the same substances as Braun’s?

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

        I’m being really naive here and maybe in my reading I never placed it- do we know anything about the other samples? I’m guessing yes and they were clean.

        I have no idea really. Like Craig said in a post below, we can’t really pretend we know enough or are smart enough to know about the testing. We can speculate sure but it’s just that- wild speculation.

        But it wouldn’t be crazy to me that results could be different from person to person based on physiology and flora.

        I’m interested to see the arbitration decision in writing.

      • jdub01984 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:08 AM

        If Braun’s sample had the highest levels ever recorded, I think it would be safe to assume that the other two samples would probably be above the 4:1 ratio they test for, unless of course, possibly, Ryan Braun was juicing and thats how the testosterone got in his system.

        Personally, I don’t care if he took roids or not, as I don’t its an unfair advantage when the majority of players are taking stuff as well. The problem I have is with the way he throw the collector under the bus. He comes off as a douche to me.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Then let’s see the results of this replication. Braun disparaged the collector, the collector set the record straight. if Carroll is to be cited as a definitive resource on what Braun’s camp was able to do, let’s see the results.

        Of course we won’t, because science tells us it can’t be done. You can’t create testosterone out of thin ari in a triple sealed sample.

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM

        I agree I’d love to see the test results that showed they reproduced the bad result. But you can’t say “it can’t happen.” Could the urine have been contaminated during collection? Was there an underlying urinary infection (bacterial fungal etc)? I’m not an expert so I can’t speak to that.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      I’m not being disingenuous. I don’t fucking care. The question of “did Braun take something or not” is beside the point to me, really. He will not be suspended, that is all that is really relevant about Braun.

      All of the things I’ve written on this subject are about the integrity of the process and the importance of a drug testing regime that does the absolute best job it can do to accomplish its goals.

      I’ve never once claimed that Braun is innocent or parsed the nature of the samples and what can happen to testosterone in urine because (a) like I said, I don’t care; and (b) even if I did, I have nothing approaching the background or knowledge to say anything intelligent about it. Maybe Braun did use something. Maybe he didn’t I really don’t fucking know and no one besides Braun does either.

      I’ve never claimed that Braun’s sample was tampered with. I have seen no evidence that it was and, like I said, I don’t care. But I will fight until I’m out of breath for the proposition that, if testing procedures are allowed to get sloppy, it opens the door for tampering in the future, and that’s way more important than all of the “Braun got off on a technicality” people want to admit.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM

        And as detailed and eloquent as the Collector was in his rebuttal, I find the “my basement office is cool enough to store samples” less than scientific. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, and maybe it isn’t all the time. It’s certainly not a controlled temperature by any means.

        And I get the point that it doesn’t matter if the “bad test” was reproduced or not. The protocols have to be followed for the process to maintain its legitimacy. However, it’s an important point of support to that statement that careless or sloppy protocols can lead to inaccurate results.

      • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:05 AM

        Wow! i don’t think i have ever seen Craig swear before, but i do have to say that you did a great job it (not being sarcastic. swearing, like anything is an art. done right and it can be beautiful, done wrong and its just vulgar.

        THAT being said, at the risk of being yelled at, Craig – Can you please explain what you keep using quotes around “got off on a technicality”. i mean, like it or not, care or not, he did just that. from what i have read at no point did they dismiss the case based on actual evidence but more on the fact that procedure was not handled. I suppose that we need to wait until the official report comes out but assuming that it was due to procedure would you say then that it was a technicality?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        Because in common parlance the phrase “got off on a technicality” has largely been transformed into “got off for no good reason and we should still think of the SOB as guilty.”

        I don’t accept that meaning and don’t accept the assumptions of those who use it in that fashion.

      • jdub01984 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:12 AM

        Its clearly obvious that Craig is only defending Braun so vehemently is because he spent a 1st round pick on him in fantasy, and now feels vindicated for doing so.

      • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM

        on that same note you cannot say that he was innocent either. as many have stated already we will NEVER know if he was guilty. but if the report comes out and it was in fact dismissed based on the lack of procedure, then, he did get off on a technicality and, unfortunately that will show him in a more negative light.

        I for one look forward to the “Ryan Braun: If i did it” book which will hopefully come out after he retires :-)

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:17 AM

        heynerdlinger, Also lets not confuse “inaccurate results” with “containing synthetic testosterone”. These two things do not mean the same thing. One leads us to believe that the “improper storage MAY cause elevated levels”, the other would mean “He either used or his handler set him up by adding synthetic testosterone”, which we have assume doesn’t happen. It’s just something to keep in mind until we find out for sure whether his sample contained elevated natural testosterone or the synthetic version. Then we will know for sure if he got lucky, or if he got extremely frigging lucky here.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:47 AM

        A “technicality” is getting out of a speeding ticket because the police officer transposed two digits of your license plate.

        We need a different term for “not following protocol” or “following a protocol that is designed poorly enough that it invalidates the results it purports to secure.”

      • rubbernilly - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:09 AM

        “I don’t fucking care.”

        Stay classy, San Diego.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        @Jonny – How do they test for synthetic testosterone? I honestly don’t know the answer, but it’s not like there’s a seal of authenticity on the chemical. It’s not made of plastic. It’s not like the real, organic stuff bears a familiar resemblance to Braun and his parents. It’s just a chemical, right?

      • racksie - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        I think another crime fighting break might be in order, Craig. People questioning you is part of the job. In fact, it’s what MAKES your job. No people commenting, means far fewer hits on this whole, wonderful thing called Hard Ball Talk. I’ve said it before, an I’ll say it again, I like your writing, and the job you do, but this Braun thing has really got you wound up, and apparently a tad angry.

        All that said, this is a very large mess. And I agree they may both be right. The most enlightening piece of information was the difference between being “open to receive, but not ship”. That, my friend, would be a technicality. Or a hair to be split. Or some other cliche. Keep up the good work, and thanks for keeping the world safe from evil. Superhero name, by the way?

      • conjecture101 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        How is that all that is relevant? Are you kidding? The media trashed Barry Bonds who never once failed a drug test, and are considering putting asterisks next to his stats, as well as keeping him out of the hall of fame. But for Ryan Braun a legitimate, science based question about what he put into his body is irrelevant??? Someone enlighten me.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM

        heynerdlinger, By looking for certain carbon isotopes only present at high levels in synthetic testosterone.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        Craig, of course you care. The only reason you have written numerous articles in the past few days is a result of the fact that you do indeed care. You claim the results are “beside the point” to you but you have gone way above and beyond the norm to eliminate the very question of “did he or didn’t he” by repeatedly claiming the process is more important. The process’ only reason for existence is to determine the answer to that question.

      • fflatch - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        “Maybe Braun did use something. Maybe he didn’t I really don’t fucking know and no one besides Braun does either.”

        I think it is this part of your posts, as opposed to the systemic argument you make in the last paragraph, which bothers people. Just because you or I do not have the scientific knowledge to understand whether storing a sample in any manner can result in false positive results, doesn’t mean we can’t use the old google to look up the answer. The day after the arbitration ruling there were scores of articles on the topic essentially stating that storage issues COULD NOT have resulted in false positive results in Braun’s sample. Soooo, excluding the possibility of tampering (of which there is absolutely no evidence and, in fact, evidence to the contrary), Braun’s results were positive because, gasp, Braun took PED’s containing testosterone.

        So, Braun being “acquitted” by the arbitrator because he found the accepted process wasn’t followed is fine, and indeed appropriate for the reasons you have articulated before, it just is not dispositive of whether or not Braun took PEDS. The arbitrator is essentially saying I don’t care that Braun took PEDS because this certain necessary process was not followed. The ruling does not in anyway indicate that the test results were wrong or even potentially wrong.

        It is directly akin to your local police busting down your neighbor’s door on an ILLEGAL search and finding 15 pounds of marijuana on the table. When the case goes before the judge, it isn’t making it past the Preliminay Hearing because all the evidence against your neighbor was obtained through an illegal search – a bad process.

        Now as a fan of the 5th amendment, I am okay with the decision because, hey, I do not want police breaking down my door whenever they feel like. But I am certainly not out on the front lawn debating with other residents whether our neighbor sells drugs because he wasn’t convicted.

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        Stay away from blabidibla, he reads minds!

        blabidibla- Were you born with this skill?

        /asshole switch turned off

      • saints97 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        I like that Craig has changed the meaning of “getting off on a technicality” to fit his purposes.

        I think the generally accepted definition of that phrase is when someone avoids penalty by winning on anything except the merits. It could be a lot of things, and one of them is a procedural defect. Braun isn’t getting off because it wasn’t found to be his urine. He’s not getting off because he was found to have not had anything wrong with his urine. He’s not even getting off because there was a problem with his urine found. He’s getting off, apparently, because the arbitrator has found that, in his opinion, the standard operating procedure in drug testing does not match the CBA.

        That, my friends, is a technicality.

    • The Common Man - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:04 AM

      “Process matters and that’s the only reason Braun got off.”

      Yes, process matters. And because the process matters, that’s really all that Braun and his representatives had to argue. And while this is the reason Braun won in this case, you can’t say this is the only reason Braun won because he didn’t need to try to win any other way. He won because the arbiter concluded the procedure followed was flawed, and that any result that flowed from that was suspect. We’ll never know if Braun could have won another way. And we may never know if he actually used “PE”Ds. The important thing is that he did win, and that MLB and MLBPA work to make the process stronger to prevent future lapses.

    • gendisarray - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:25 AM

      “The sample was good. It was Brauns. It wasn’t tampered with. It had unexceptable levels of synthetic testosterone in it. Braun put that testosterone in the cup with his sample. That’s the whole story.”

      You start your “Braun cheated” argument with the premise that “the sample was good” – but that’s exactly the question at issue, not a presumed fact that you can build the rest of your argument on. Your belief that Braun cheated is based ENTIRELY on the positive test result. Braun argued successfully that the protocol violations made the test result unreliable, because the sample may not have been good. The protocol violations rise above the level of a “technicality” because they speak directly to the sole premise on which your whole argument depends: that “the sample was good.” Without being able to state conclusively that “the sample was good,” you can’t state conclusively that Braun cheated. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t cheat, but it does mean that you can’t say he did or didn’t conclusively.

    • nategearhart - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Dammit, if there was a breakdown in protocol, and process matters, then the sample is most certainly not good.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        But if the guy followed procedure (such as he went into great detail to describe), and process matters, does that not mean the sample is good?

    • koufaxmitzvah - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Since you haven’t read the arbiter’s decision, you can not proudly proclaim that this is the only reason Braun got off. And since I really do doubt you’re a scientist, you will not convince me and others that drug testing in and of itself has flaws that render individuals criminals.

      You want to show me DNA on rape victim? By all means, let’s make sure society is safe. But if you want to convince me that a urine test can tell me when somebody is cheating in baseball, then grab onto your tinfoil cap, because we’re in for a rocky ride.

  8. lpd1964 - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    This collector must be a genius. He was able to open tamper resistant vials and contaminate Braun’s sample and then re-seal them and nobody was the wiser. Braun should keep his yap shut and quit while he is ahead. Didn’t Shakespeare say something to the effect- “Me thinks he protest too much”.

    • The Common Man - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      Christ, somebody takes one BritLit class in high school and thinks he’s got insight. This is the Internet, at least google the quote and get it right, Ben Jonson.

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:10 PM

        Cool down, TCM. This the internet. Be thankful he didn’t attribute the quote to The Simpsons.

    • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      I saw an episode of Matlock once where he got a person convicted of murder by showing that the killer injected poison into an egg with a needle. And he even demonstrated how no one would have been able to tell. That guy was a genius.

    • CJ - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      if he let it go, you’d be saying Braun “doth protest not enough.” no matter what he did after the result, you’d be knocking him for it.

    • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      i think you left out a “doth”

      • phillyphreak - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:20 AM

        And I think it was “the lady” not he.

      • phukyouk - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:35 AM

        ok so we have figured out that the “too much” part is about all that is accurate in that quote. not to shabby

      • gendisarray - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        And “methinks” comes at the end, no?

    • cur68 - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      HBT: come for the baseball slander, stay for the Olde English lesson.

      Anyhow, one of these days, soon I hope, we’ll find out what data the arbitrator used to dismiss the suspension. Till then, it seems no matter what, people will have made up there minds, facts be damned.

      The “got off on a technicality” crowd are happily embracing that argument based on a lot of innuendo. The “totally innocent” crowd are doing the same. The only certainty is that the person with the facts of the matter did find reason to dismiss the suspension. If that’s because the sample was deemed mishandled, then that is totally reasonable.

      Would any of us accept the results of a deemed mishandled paternity test? Especially if the procedure described has even a chance of screwing the result? If an independent expert ruled the test as too flawed to come to a conclusion on, would you still be insisting the child is yours or would you be demanding the procedure be corrected and a proper test carried out?

      I know what I’d like to have happen.

  9. kwphilly4for4 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    I am not trying to beat a dead horse but can someone please tell me what protocal was broken.

    The protocal that I have read states that the speciman is to be fed-ex’ed as soon as possible. Monday fits that bill in this case. If not, Friday (would sit in Fed ex all weekend), Saturday (would sit as well) and Sunday (would not arrive until Monday) would all seem to be out.

    I will say it again, would the arbitrator rather have Braun’s piss sit at fed ex for the same time period as it was held by a trained collector in a temperature appropriate to hold the sample?

    This collector was not sloppy.

    • kopy - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      I believe the protocol also had something about not testing if the samples can’t be shipped the same day. It does seem weird though, that this would eliminate testing on the weekends. Perhaps the issue was keeping it in his basement? We have a few more weeks to wait until he explains why he reversed the decision.

      • kwphilly4for4 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:25 AM

        Thank for the reply.

        I agree the weekend thing baffles me. The fed-ex thing in general is a bit confusing as well. If I were a member of a union and my urine was fed-ex’ed, I think i would have a problem with it. The counter point is maybe urine is so stable that unless subjective to extreme high’s and low’s is very hard to damage when sealed.

  10. stex52 - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    We have really beaten this one down. To me there is only so much we can say:

    1. We don’t know if Braun actually took PED’s, because
    2. The test was ruled to be not according to an established and, therefor, invalid; and
    3. What are they doing revealing the results of a supposedly confidential test anyway?

    Whether Braun was caught or not, MLB deserves to take the shot on this one because their practices are so shoddy. If he got a reprieve, I hope he uses it well and stays away from the stuff. If he is actually clean, then justice was done.

  11. sdelmonte - Feb 29, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    The Collector? You mean this dude?

    Worst…procedural debate…EVER

  12. ryanindusblue - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    I don’t think that’s how testing should work.

  13. stevem7 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    There is one truly funny thing in all of this Craig. Everyone of the people who are screaming he is guilty, he got off on a technicality, etc are the very same people who if stopped for DUI and provided a urine sample that wasn’t handled properly would NOT be running down to court and telling the judge that they were guilty. Truly, there is a dual standard at work here … people would not do the right thing in their own case but would pursue the same options as Braun did.

    • conjecture101 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      Nope. I don’t blame Braun at all for using his resources to get out of a 50 game suspension. If I had his resources I would do the same to get out of a DUI. Yet, It doesn’t make either of us less guilty of putting substances in our body. (not saying either of us did ((get me?))

      I don’t understand why people are obsessing over the procedure. If it was done technically wrong, than I am fine with Braun getting off on a technicality. It still doesn’t explain how the substance got into his body, and people in his defense continue to leave that out of their arguments.

  14. nategearhart - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    It’s also entirely possible that the “collector” is just straight-up lying.
    I’m not saying I think that, but isn’t it just as likely that he’s a liar as Braun?

    • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      He has just as much reason to lie as anyone. Again, not saying he is, but it is possible. We can’t really take his words as fact any more than we can take Braun’s. If he did anything wrong he would most likely lose his job, and I assume that he doesn’t have nearly as much money (or a guaranteed contract) as Braun.

      • nategearhart - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        Agree 100%.

    • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Except for the fact the collector has multiple witnesses backing up his story to the letter.

      • Alex K - Mar 1, 2012 at 8:51 AM

        HIs wife? Who else backs up his story about it just sitting in his house? That’s one witness who is as biased as biased gets. We can’t believe one over the other right now.

  15. tuftsb - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Wait a minute – the guys office was in his basement? Did he do his work in his underwear?

  16. rooney24 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    MLB and the players union need to sit down and make sure the protocols for future testing are in place and clearly defined. This whole deal with Braun happened and everyone ended up looking bad. But, both sides agreed to go to an arbitrator and live with his decision. The arbitrator has ruled, so we all need to let the actual Braun thing go. Think what you will of Braun, Selig, the collector, whoever, but let it go. But, the powers that be need to fix the process so that they don’t have this issue again in the future.

    • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      No matter how legally tight you establish the protocols to be, some lawyer will find a loophole to escape through. That is a universal truth.

  17. eastcoastblows - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    I poop on Ryan Braun

  18. mntreehugger - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    If the whole collection system process is de-bunked, does that bring into question ALL tests that have been done since 2005? Since from what I have read, Braun’s suspension was lifted because the sample that was taken was not acceptable because the process was flawed. If “his” process was flawed, and the process has been the same since 2005, are all samples collected therefore flawed?
    Seems like this will open a very large can of worms from players previously tested positive.

    Again, this is all hearsay, based on comments and opinions, not on actual statements. Just a thought I had

  19. byjiminy - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Craig, I think the rest of America is way ahead of you on this one.

    We get that you can’t punish a guy from a flawed test. We’re all for due process. But unlike you, apparently, we are also curious about whether he took drugs or not, and want to assess the available evidence on our own. We can separate the legal issues from our personal opinions. We don’t see a conflict between being for acquitting him in court, but still wanting to know what happened. Or a conflict between believing that he took PEDs, and believing that if due process wasn’t followed to a T, we should never have even heard there was a test.

    But here’s the deal: until someone can come up with a scenario in which artificial testosterone got into that cup without him peeing it out, we will think he probably was doping.

    You are free to “not care” whether he took steroids or not. But to then get all irate and moralistic at people me for simply trying to assess the facts objectively is just weird. Stick to defending Braun’s rights and the importance of following protocol — I’m with you 100% there. But act like I’m a hysterical, emotional know-nothing for being able to separate my opinions about the testing process from my opinions about what really happened.

    I am not saying I’m 100% sure he did it. I’m still looking for scenarios in which the sample might have been tainted. Will Carroll claims that Braun’s team replicated a false positive by mistreating a sample. But he hasn’t backed it up with specifics. My guess is you could maybe change the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone through heat or bacterial contamination, but not create synthetic T. Of course I have seen no official announcement there was artificial testosterone in his sample, so that might not be true. But I haven’t seen anyone contest it either. If that part’s true, how did it get in that sealed container?

    So for now, my opinion is 1) he probably took PEDs, but 2) he probably shouldn’t have been publicly accused or punished. Both of those opinions are subject to change based on future information coming out. But unlike you, I care more about my own opinion than the details of collective bargaining agreements.

    • nategearhart - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      I think a lot of Craig’s ire is directed at those, unlike you, who aren’t saying “probably”. There’s a LOT of “Braun’s a lying scumbag cheat and I know it for a FACT” types out there. You don’t appear to be one of them.

      • byjiminy - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        Thanks. But based on the currently available evidence it’s a pretty tiny gap between “probably” and “almost certainly.” The head of some anti-doping agency went on record as saying there’s just no way artificial testosterone could appear in a sample from being unrefrigerated, and there’s no way to slip it into a triple-sealed container. He didn’t say probably, either. So I personally don’t have a problem with anyone calling Braun a lying cheating scumbag if they want to. I’ve called people worse for flimsier evidence (usually politicians). And you know what? If I were a Braves fan I might be pretty damn pissed. He might have cost them the playoffs last year.

      • spindervish - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM

        I think perhaps there’s some poor communication going on here. I’m no scientist, but a few days ago some guy got on here and got all specific and science-y about the process of identifying testosterone in human samples. I’m too lazy to go find his comment, but if he is to be believed, then apparently there’s no way for a test to tell you if the testosterone it detects is synthetic. It can tell you if it’s exogenous, which is not at all the same as synthetic. So while Braun’s test might clearly tell you that the excessive testosterone was not produced in Braun’s body, that’s very different than saying it’s an inorganic substance. So, for example, if bacteria growth or something could produce elevated testosterone levels in a sample sitting at room temperature, that would show up in the test results as an exogenous source. That doesn’t mean it’s synthetic and someone would have had to plant it.

        Of course, this commenter could have been full of shit. But his claim points out, yet again, that words really matter. You can’t just use “synthetic” or “artificial” interchangeably with “exogenous” just because you don’t know the difference. If the test showed an exogenous source and someone reported it as synthetic and now that’s just the accepted position among the general public, that seems like a pretty major fuckup on the media’s part.

    • byjiminy - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Sorry for the typos: “But act like” should have been “But don’t act like”, etc. I think there’s more like that, but I trust I was wordy and redundant enough that you got my drift.

      p.s. Keep up the good work, Craig! I read you every day — I love your cheery humor, and love your passion for due process — sorry I got huffy, but I felt like in this one case you were a little dismissive of some pretty reasonable points of view (i.e., mine). But don’t ever change! I’m glad you didn’t just go with the flow on this. I’ll keep reading whatever you write about it.

    • gendisarray - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      You seem to be working off the assumption that “synthetic” means (loosely) “artificially made by science.” That’s not exactly right. From what I’ve read on the subject, “synthetic” just means “exogenous” in this context. So “synthetic testosterone” isn’t necessarily testosterone developed in a laboratory, but rather just testosterone not produced by the human body. Testosterone produced by bacteria in the sample after of few days of non-refrigeration, for example, would not be artificially made by science, but would still be considered “synthetic” because it was not naturally produced in the body.

      • spindervish - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        I’m not so sure it would be considered synthetic. I think that would just be an example of someone using the wrong word to express what they’re trying to say.

      • wlschneider09 - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        For the third time, bacteria do not produce testosterone.

        Bacteria can affect a testerone test by selectively degrading hormones (i.e. epitestosterone) to alter the ratios.

      • byjiminy - Feb 29, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        Also, as senclaydavis points out below, we don’t actually know that either synthetic or exogenous testosterone WAS found in his urine. That’s just a rumor at this point, so all opinions are conjectural. I really hope the arbitrator’s report is made public — this is fun, but it would be nice to have a few facts to play with.

  20. blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    A. The urine specimens and chain-of-custody forms are now ready for transport. B. The Sample Boxes shall be placed in the appropriate packaging.

    1. 1 to 6 samples: a Federal Express Labpak will be used.
    2. 7 + samples: a brown cardboard box will be used. Be sure to pack any empty space with newspaper to avoid movement while in transit.
    The package is to be sent by Federal Express to:
    Laboratoire de Controle du Dopage
    (INRS – Institut Armand-Frappier) 531, boul. Des Prairies Laval (Quebec) Canada H7V 1B7
    The airbill must be filled out as follows:
    1. The Collector must complete the shipping address on the airbill under “From” or “Shipper”.
    2. The Collector must go over the pre-checked boxes on the airbill with a pen to ensure that the “X’s” can be read by the courier all the way through to the bottom copy.
    3. If shipping on Friday, the Collector must check Saturday delivery under “Special Handling”.
    4. The Collector must write the chain of custody account number under “Your internal Billing Reference”. DO NOT write the name of the sport. (example; for MLB collections you would write “10001”)
    5. The “Commodity Description” should say; “Human Urine Samples for Doping Control (Non-Infectious)” and valued at $1.00.
    E. If the specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.
    1. The Collector must keep the chain of custody intact.
    2. The Collector must store the samples in a cool and secure location.
    F. When all of the specimens have been collected at the collection site, the Collector shall take the specimens in the appropriate packaging to a FedEx Customer Service Center for shipment. The specimens cannot be placed in a FedEx Drop Box location.
    G. The customer copy of the FedEx airbill should be sent (by Federal Express) to CDT along with Pages 2 and 3 of the chain-of-custody form, test list and any Problem Collection Logs. For complete paperwork distribution, see MLB Paperwork Distribution Chart (Exhibit 5).

    Those are the chain of custody protocols. For the life of me I can’t see how they were violated. Yes a Fed Ex office was open, but the collector would have been REQUIRED to check Saturday Delivery if shipping on a Friday. It was past time to make the Saturday delivery so the specimen was not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector is then REQUIRED to ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.

    This whole thing is ludicrous. And the more information comes to light the digger the apologists are digging in.

    • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      My bad, the shipment would have been delivered to Fed Ex on Saturday not Friday but the point still remains. If the specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, (which it wouldn’t have been) the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage (which it was). I hope MLB does take this to court. They would win.

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        You don’t have nearly enough information to make that statement.

        All we have are statements from Braun and the collector. Both of those people have a lot to lose in this situation. I can’t trust one person’s word over the other at this point.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        We also have the lab on record claiming the samples were in the proper containers, with the seals intact. The lab also agreed their processes were followed to a T as they have been for years in these situations. Braun never countered the claim all samples were properly sealed and intact. In fact he signed off on all of it being properly done in front of his own eyes. I’m relying only on facts here, not the various, and often incorrect statement by the media.

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        I’m not sure what else the lab would say. I’m not saying they did anything wrong, but they aren’t going to tell us if they made a mistake. And if they did make a mistake (which, again, I’m not saying they did) they really couldn’t say they messed anything up after this became public.

        Again, you don’t have enough information to say that MLB would win any type of lawsuit to overturn the decision. We have information from three sources. All three have a lot to lose. The only person who really has nothing to lose is the arbitrator. We’ll see his reasons for his ruling sometime in the future. Even after that we may not have enough information to say that any party could win a lawsuit.

        Your opinion seems to be that Braun took PED’s and got away with it (correct me if I’m wrong). You are entitled to that opinion. But that’s all it is at this point, your opinion. I don’t know if I agree with that opinion or not. I don’t have enough information from less biased sources to feel like I can form one, right now. I really only took issue with you saying that MLB would for sure win a lawsuit. That is as far from a fact as you can get.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        You’re correct, it is my opinion MLB would win. After examining the facts, that is a reasonable conclusion. What isn’t reasonable is the assumption that a properly stored box of samples is somehow less safe in a locked house with a bonded collector than the same box being kept at a FedEx packing plant, exposed to hundreds of employees for 2 days before shipping.

        Why would you assume the lab wouldn’t admit to a mistake? They actually have a process in place to admit when mistakes are made. The “lab” isn’t one person, your talking multiple people witnessing a cover up, one that would surely destroy the company if it were to leak.. With as many cross checks as are required in this process, too many people would know the lie was being spread to keep it under wraps.

        I’m very interested in the arbiter’s statement. He has a LOT of factual evidence to counter if he’s to come out of this unscathed. I don’t see how it’s possible at this point but I will give his statement the same rational examination as the rest of the facts.

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:02 PM

        I don’t agree or disagree with your opinion on the lawsuit. We don’t have nearly enough information to say one way or the other. I only took issue with you stating it as a fact.

        I’m well aware the lab isn’t one person. But, I don’t think they would admit a mistake for the same reason you don’t think they would cover it up. It would hurt their reputation no matter what. Once again, I don’t think the lab made a mistake, but I would be very surprised for them to come out and say it.

        I also am not making any assumptions about the sample being more secure no matter if it was stored in a basement or a Fed Ex location. I’m waiting for more information to form an opinion on weather I believe that Braun took a PED or not. I, personally, think this is the best way to go in this situation because I we don’t know enough undisputed facts.

        I’m also very interested in the arbiter’s report. I am curious on what facts he based his report on.

      • blabidibla - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM

        Perhaps I wasn’t totally clear that “they would win” was my opinion. I thought was obvious to most people since I’m not a one man jury.

        Fact is Braun’s “statement” doesn’t really conflict with anything the collector said. Except that he also insinuated that the collector was suspicious for unknown reasons. Braun has been purposefully vague in his language when it comes to specifics in the case. The collector was over the top specific in his. I wonder who’s afraid of legal action?

        if the lab made a mistake and admitted it, they might suffer a small hit, but if they admitted it would establish trust. If they lied about it the business goes away, plain and simple. Their business is about truth in process. One lie destroys all credibility.

        You can ignore the undisputed fact that there are checks and balances in the system to report the slightest mistake and that the system has been used on many occasions to do just that. You can ignore the undisputed fact multiple witnesses have verified the collectors story. You can ignore the undisputed fact the triple sealed and signed off by Braun himself sample came up positive. And you can believe the rumors and innuendo (no facts) the Braun camp has spread in the media without any verification. Bonds, Clemens, Palmiero, Sosa, McGuire, etc… all totally innocent by similar standards. That is your right.

        If the Arbiter’s report counters those facts in a reasonable way I will come back here and admit my mistake, but logic and reason tells me that won’t be the case.

        Thanks for the discussion. Talk to you in a couple of weeks.

      • Alex K - Mar 1, 2012 at 9:24 AM

        You seem to be ignoring that the Collector has a ton to lose here and has plenty of reason to lie, though. The only people backing up his story are the lab (about the sample being sealed) and his wife (about the sample sitting in his basement). Who are all these other people you keep mentioning? I’ll believe his wife just as much as I believe him which is no more or less than Braun. I don’t think the lab is covering up anything, either. I was just allowing for the possibility. I don’t know how you know this specific lab’s procedures – Are they posted somewhere?

        You are free to believe whatever you like. Just don’t talk down to people that want more information before making a decision. You know what logic and reason tell me? That I don’t have enough information to say one way or the other and neither do you.

        I will admit that, gun to my head, I would say Braun used, but that isn’t going to happen so I can wait.

      • blabidibla - Mar 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

        How am I ignoring Laurenzi? His version of events has been verified by MLB officials, Lab officials, his wife, his son acting as chaperone, security footage at the park, the electronic recording device carried by Laurenzi and used throughout the process, Brewer officials, Fed Ex, and Braun himself who signed legal documentation in front of witnesses that the sample was indeed his. The seals were intact, as verified by multiple sources and uncontested by Braun.

        Here is the official documentation of MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S JOINT DRUG PREVENTION AND TREATMENT PROGRAM “Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.” The only argument I can see it the Arbiter didn’t think the samples sitting in a Fed Ex location for 2 days would count as “unusual circumstances.” And yet the same document allows for just such a delay “If the specimen is not immediately prepared for shipment, the Collector shall ensure that it is appropriately safeguarded during temporary storage.” This is crucial: There is no 24 hour requirement for shipping. The document says “should” not “must be” and, as shown, it allows for delay.

        Let me ask you this… If this is what the Arbiter is hanging his hat on to dismiss this case, do you personally accept his logic?

        Here is the labs site The labs evidence handling procedures, involving checks and balances, have been well documented in various cases and no one has questioned their validity here, not even Braun. Braun has never contested the sample’s identity. It’s his. Braun has never contested the seals placed on the samples. They were intact, and thus the samples were untampered with.

        FWIW: Asking me not to talk down to you while turning off and on your self proclaimed “asshole switch” seems disingenuous to me. But I am sorry if I came off as pedantic. I will try to be better.

      • Alex K - Mar 1, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        I never said you were ignoring him. I said you were ignoring the fact that he has a lot to lose. May seem like splitting hairs, but I don’t think it is. I also never said he tampered with the urine. I only said that I don’t believe his word over Braun’s right now because he has just as much, if not more, reason to lie. I’m not calling anyone a liar, cheat, or bad person. I’m just saying I don’t have a complete opinion yet.

        If that is what Das based his decision on, I would think he made the wong decision. But, I don’t know what he based his decision on so I’m not going to speculate.

        I had never taken the time to look at the lab’s website. Thanks for the information. I also never said they made a mistake. I feel like I was pretty clear on that, too. I only allowed for the possibility.

        You insinuated that I was ignoring parts of the story to fit my narrative, which I wasn’t. Plus, the manner in which you stated it was very condescending. I don’t know if that was your intention, but it is how it came across. If that wasn’t the intention – I get it. Tone often gets lost in this medium.

        And the “asshole switch” thing was an acknowledgement of jokes I made that made me seem like an asshole. I wanted to make the reading minds jokes, but knew that they would come across a certain way. I was just recognizing that. If you were offended, my apologies.

  21. Ben - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    I’m still not clear on how or why people are arguing the chain of custody was breached. He says clearly in his statement he followed protocol, protocol that had been in use for hundreds of prior samples, and that this instance was hardly unique.

    • kopy - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Because if chain of custody, or another part of protocol, wasn’t breached then Braun’s suspension wouldn’t have been repealed. The arbiter, the only one with all the information in this case, felt that Braun’s suspension wasn’t justified. If it was as black and white as the collector’s statement made it appear, then Braun would have lost his appeal. It’s ludicrous to see people debate the arbiter’s decision based on reports and prepared statements, but… here we are.

      I can’t end a post on this topic anymore without saying we should wait until the arbiter’s report comes out to form conclusions.

      • kopy - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        Well there were 3 arbiter’s, but only the one whose vote wasn’t already essentially predetermined.

  22. sslugnuts - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    As a guy who works for a union, and is required to take random drug testing, this story boggles my mind. Drug testing is as simple as peeing in a cup, while someone is watching yours close as possible, THEN, taking it directly into the next room and testing it, that’s it. Braun gets off the hook, and that’s fine, but the issue here is the way the test is formally conducted, and that’s the bottom line.

    • wlschneider09 - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      Except that testing for drugs is relatively straight forward and can be conducted anywhere, while testing hormone levels requires some more precise lab equipment.

  23. brockw82 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    Ever use that language in court Craiggy?

  24. billb09 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Stop all the BS. Braun is a cheater of the game and got caught. Stop pointing fingers at the working man. He did his job, nothing was tampered with, and Braun popped positive. GUILTY. End of story.

  25. conjecture101 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Dear Craig Calcaterra,

    Every blog post you write regarding the Ryan Bruan case is a deflection from the question that everyone is still asking. Why was Ryan Braun’s sample filled with synthetic testosterone? It is the only question that we have absolutely no answer to

    You continue to talk about the collector, the procedure, the arbitrator, but never once do you try and explore how a natural substance could mutate into a synthetic one.

    From my point of view it seems like you have a personal bias in favor of Ryan Braun. You want Braun to be innocent because you like him. Hey, I wanted Manny Rameriez to be innocent because I liked him, but I didn’t deflect attention away from evidence in order to defend him. None of us may ever know exactly what happened, but with the information that is available to us, we as the outside observer have every reason to question the validity of Braun’s claims at his press conference, and to deduce that the reason in which Braun is not serving a 50 game suspension, is the result of a technicality.

    • kopy - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:52 AM

      The reports that stated there was “synthetic testosterone” were early and accompanied with other inaccurate details (like the urine being kept in a fridge). There were other reports that just said the level of testosterone was “insanely high.” We should wait and see what the official report says.

      • conjecture101 - Feb 29, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        fair enough.

    • gendisarray - Feb 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      Excellent use of a straw man argument.

    • senclaydavis - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Hear is a speculative summary of events that I think is consistent with what are apparently the established facts:

      1) There is no evidence of synthetic testosterone. As kopy points out, the original leak reported synthetic testosterone, and I do not believe anyone has confirmed (correct me if I am wrong). All of the talking heads that mention “synthetic testosterone” are simply doing so on the basis of this report.

      2) The collector has stated that he did not store the urine in a refrigerator. The rates of many biological processes are very sensitive to temperature (heck, this is why refrigerator/freezers are used in the first place), and in Braun’s urine, the epitestosterone degraded more than the testosterone while the sample was stored for 40 whatever hours. The resulting testosterone/epitestosterone ratio was thus higher than it is in fresh urine. I’m basing a lot of this off of Will Carroll’s reporting, but it seems plausible. When Braun was discussing the collector and what happened to the sample, he was referring to the lack of refrigeration for the sample, not indicating he knowingly tampered with it (as far as I know, there is no evidence of tampering other than possible changes in storage conditions, which I wouldn’t call deliberate tampering). According to Carroll, the Braun defense team replicated this changing T/E ratio in his urine by following the storage protocol used by the collector.

      3) The decision took so long because arbitrator Das needed the time to understand the scientific details of urine degradation.

      It will be interesting to see Das’ report once it inevitably leaks. But I highly doubt that Das decided “not guilty” on some completely ridiculous technicality, which is what many talking heads are claiming.

      • cur68 - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        Well that’s a better summary than any of the zillion words I’ve used on the topic. Das’s report shouldn’t be a matter of a leak. It’ll apparently be made public. Can’t come soon enough, IMO. All this rush to judgement is causing a lot of upsettedness here on the usually tranquil shores of HBT.

      • jdub01984 - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        Why didn’t the other two anonymous samples stored exactly the same way, in exactly the same packaging, the exact same rubbermaid container, not also exibit the same epitestosterone degradation as did Braun’s sample.

      • senclaydavis - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:32 PM


        Did they announce that the Das report would be made public?


        1) All urine is different, and perhaps some components of Braun’s urine “catalyzed” the degradation of the epitestosterone.

        2) More unlikely, but do you know for sure that no other samples exhibited epitestosterone degradation? Or were other players subjected to the same flawed tests as Braun, only without a leak?

      • cur68 - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:45 PM

        @sen: yeah, I think Craig mentioned that it would be. I don’t know what the rush is with having an opinion here. The considered facts will come to light in due course. Even if they ever do, how can you form an opinion that isn’t based on rumor? I’d hate to be judged on rumor, as would anyone.

        It really is true, though, that some people will argue anything, just to be making noise. Semantic arguments, rumor arguments, verb tense arguments, argue, argue, argue. All of it based on a ridiculously incomplete information set. Oy.

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM


        1) Great name
        2) Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit – This is an appropriate response, right?

      • senclaydavis - Feb 29, 2012 at 7:15 PM


        What part of my scenario is not possible or at odds with the facts?

      • Alex K - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:05 PM

        I have no problems with your facts. That was just a Senator Clay Davis (from the Wire) quote. If it is just a coincidence that you chose that name and are not familiar with the Wire I wouldn’t expect you to get that.

      • senclaydavis - Feb 29, 2012 at 8:52 PM


        Got your response, just thought you were calling the scenario shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…. though I think that is an apt description of much of the Braun reporting

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