Braun proclaims innocence

2:32 PM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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Maryvale, AZ (Sports Network) - Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun declared his innocence Friday, one day after it was revealed that a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test had been overturned by an arbitrator.

Braun arrived at Brewers spring training camp in Arizona on Friday and addressed the media with a lengthy statement that detailed the process, which began with a urine test on October 1, the sample of which revealed an elevated level of testosterone for the reigning National League MVP.

"If I had done this intentionally, or unintentionally, I'd be the first to step up and say I did it," Braun stated with conviction. "I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point."

Braun, with his teammates in the stands at the Brewers' spring training complex, spoke for about 15 minutes and criticized the media for leaking the information that was supposed to remain confidential through the appeals process.

"I've tried to respect the process, even though it was breached early on," Braun remarked. "There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, but... I put the game of baseball ahead of what was best for myself."

ESPN initially broke the news on Braun's failed test in December and he's been battling the negative public perception ever since.

"We're part of a process that is you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent, it's opposite of the American judicial system," he commented.

Braun carefully recounted how he gave the urine sample, when he found out about the positive test and what steps were taken by the union and himself in the appeals process.

When results of the test revealed incredibly high testosterone ratio levels, Braun said he was immediately concerned.

"The fact there's a single number three times [what the levels should be], made me question the validity of the result," Braun said.

Braun said the urine sample he provided, which occurred on a Saturday, was not delivered to a FedEx office until two days later. Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Agreement clearly states that it must be given to a FedEx office for delivery to a laboratory in Montreal on the day it is taken.

Reports have indicated that the collector said he could not find an open FedEx office because of the lateness of the day and kept the sample in his home until the following Monday.

Braun said research revealed that there were numerous FedEx offices open late on that Saturday and the sample could have been delivered that day.

"I don't honestly know what happened to [the sample] in that 44-hour period," he explained.

Saying the process has been "unjust and unfair," Braun added that this experience has been a motivating factor for him entering the 2012 season.

"There are a lot of people who doubted me and will continue to doubt me," he noted.

Braun also said the events of the past few months have subdued what would have been a celebration of an incredible 2011 season that included the MVP award and the Brewers' run to the National League Championship Series.

"It should have been an amazing time in my life," he continued. "I should have been able to enjoy the offseason and I didn't."

In 150 games last season, Braun batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star Game starter for the fourth straight season in 2011 and also earned his fourth Silver Slugger award.

Major League Baseball on Thursday "vehemently" disagreed with the arbitrator's decision and Braun said Friday he understood baseball's position, but added that he was "a little sad and disappointed that this has become a [public relations] battle."

Braun is the first major leaguer to have a suspension reversed through the arbitration process.

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