Ryan Braun, PEDs Linked Again … Can He Clear His Name Twice?

‘Have I lied in the past?? Yes I have – I lied so I could live to see another day…’

That quote came out of the end of a recent WWE episode. It was one of Vince McMahon’s long-time rivals facing the music during the program’s final segment.

But while watching the pro wrestling storyline unfold, I couldn’t help but think of the continuing real-life circus of PED scandals in baseball and other sports. I thought of Rafael Palmeiro, Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriguez…

And now very possibly Ryan Braun.

ryan-braunJust ten days ago Braun appeared at the Milwaukee Brewers fan-fest talking how happy he was to have a quiet, controversy-free off-season. It just seemed way too good to be true.

Two days later the Miami New Times broke the Biogenesis story.

Considering the ‘anti-aging’ clinic just happened to be in South Florida, I immediately wondered if Braun would eventually join A-Rod, Melky Cabrera, and Gio Gonzalez as central figures in the investigation.

I would really like to think that Jeff Passan’s article Tuesday night is off the mark, just as I had hoped Braun was right in saying that ESPN’s report of a leaked positive test in December, 2011 was ‘B.S’ before Braun would ultimately avoid suspension on the grounds of questions regarding the timing of the specimen in question.

When Braun got off the hook nearly a year ago this time, my reaction was: just don’t be stupid enough to get nailed again.

I personally like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. And I would like to think that a writer ratting out a bunch of scribbled names and initials (with no documentation of what they were ordering or using) is merely another chapter in certain members of the media conducting a never-ending witch hunt.

But we saw where the continuous search for evidence against Lance Armstrong eventually got him – with ultimately no choice but to make a confession and a spectacle of it with Oprah Winfrey.

As I write this Tuesday night, Braun has already released a written statement saying his link to Biogenesis was ‘consulting-related.’

The statement explained that during his successful appeal, Braun’s legal team consulted with Biogenesis’s Tony Bosch. Braun explained that there was a dispute over ‘moneys owed’ and that was why his named appeared on the list next to the notation ’RB 20-30K.’ Braun concluded by saying he will cooperate fully with any inquiry into the matter.

Truth … or another hard-to-believe Braun alibi?

The Braun statement did answer one of questions in the Passan piece regarding the possible time frame during which this list was compiled.

A 2010-11 order or appointment or consultation would be one thing, and it would not be good if he were to be proven guilty after spending all off-season denying the positive test that was ultimately overturned.

If the alleged order/ledger was from anytime in 2012, and if Braun were linked to ordering an illegal supplement after getting dinged the first time, then the story gets even worse.

What is potentially damaging about the documents obtained in the Yahoo report is that Braun is linked with University of Miami strength coach Jimmy Goins along with minor league pitcher Cesar Carillo, a three-year roommate of Braun’s at Miami.

Last September I wrote a piece on why Ryan Braun had no chance of winning National League Most Valuable Player. I noted that, in my opinion, that there would be members of the media who would leave Braun’s name completely off the ten-player ballot rather than risk being burned again with another off-season allegation.

As it turned out, the voting went very fairly. Buster Posey deservedly won the award, but Braun was named amongst the top four on all 32 ballots.

I was among those who gave Braun some benefit of the doubt, in part because last year at this time there were a lot of people in Braun’s corner.

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was behind Braun.

Good pal, restaurant partner, and fellow local sports icon Aaron Rodgers was behind Braun.

Other people who follow the game – even those who speak often about the continuing PED controversies – also were behind Braun. Some of these were the same people who had railed on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens years before.

‘You couldn’t write a work of fiction this good’ someone once said…

As I wrote last fall: once bitten, twice shy.

I don’t see a lot of people buying his latest story this time around. His legal team was going to the head of the clinic for ‘consulting?’ You’d think he could do better than that.

At the very best, Ryan Braun is now in another storm of controversy just in time for Spring Training.

At the very worst, Braun ultimately is suspended, has no choice but to confess to doing ‘something’ wrong, and he ends up looking every bit as bad as finger-wagging Rafael Palmeiro.

At what point will that 5-year/$105 million contract extension (which begins in 2016) not seem like such a bargain anymore? How long will the Milwaukee organization feel like the continued PR hits are worth it before deciding it’s time to find a trade partner? That day could come sooner than anyone ever imagined.

And how long will Milwaukee baseball fans continue to buy into a star player slowly being outed as a cheat?

When is there just too much smoke to dismiss the possibility of a fire?

I would like to think any possible conclusions Jeff Passan is making are dead wrong.

But at some point even Teflon starts to stain a little.



About Kurt Allen

Have written/blogged about sports since 2000, along with starting my popular Twitter feed in 2009. I also closely follow fantasy sports developments, along with events such as the NFL Draft.

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