It's been a lousy 24 hours for Major League Baseball. When people are supposed to be thinking about spring, sun, and batting practice (but no pepper!), fans are instead drawn to lurid tales of performance-enhancing drugs, testosterone, and red tape. Earlier on Friday, Ryan Braun held a press conference to explain his side of the story. Later that day, MLB answered with an official statement from Rob Manfred
"Major League Baseball runs the highest quality drug testing program of any professional sports organization in the world. It is a joint program, administered by an independent program administrator selected by the Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA.
The "professional" qualifier is in there because no one messes with the Olympics. They know if you lingered over a perfume ad too long while reading Cosmopolitan.
"With regards to the breach of confidentiality regarding this case, both the Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA have investigated the original leak of Ryan Braun’s test, and we are convinced that the leak did not come from the Commissioner’s Office.
It's hard to know how many people could have leaked the story, and I believe MLB when they say they've investigated. Not sure how easy it would have been to find the culprit.
"The extremely experienced collector in Mr. Braun’s case acted in a professional and appropriate manner. He handled Mr. Braun’s sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency. The Arbitrator found that those instructions were not consistent with certain language in our program, even though the instructions were identical to those used by many other drug programs – including the other professional sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
This would explain why MLB was furious. If different terms were agreed upon in the first place, the way Braun's specimen was handled wouldn't have made a difference. If the World Anti-Doping Agency says that keeping urine with a courier over the weekend is cool, it's probably not something that is a major scientific concern. But what happened did violate MLB's protocol, so the Anti-Doping Agency isn't especially relevant.
"Our program is not ‘fatally flawed.’ Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors regarding when samples should be delivered to FedEx based on the arbitrator’s decision. Neither Mr. Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering."
It wasn't Braun's responsibility to prove evidence of tampering -- just to establish that collection protocol was breached -- but Braun's statement hinted very strongly at the possibility of tampering.
Nothing too shocking about this statement compared to the last one, which hinted that they felt that Braun was still guilty despite the arbitrator's ruling, establishing an MLB-vs.-Braun stance that probably didn't need to exist.