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Brewers' Braun admits taking banned substances during MVP season

By Howie Rumberg

AP Sports Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:05 p.m. HST, Aug 22, 2013


A month after acknowledging only that he made “mistakes,” Ryan Braun admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs during his NL MVP season of 2011.

The suspended Milwaukee slugger said he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury.

“It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately,” Braun said in a statement released by the Brewers.  

Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October 2011, but his 50-game suspension was overturned when an arbitrator ruled that the urine sample was mishandled.

While Braun took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to the collector of the urine sample, teammates and Commissioner Bud Selig among others, the statement still leaves several key questions unanswered.

Among them:  Who gave Braun the PEDs and where did they come from? What was the exact substance in the products? Did he know the cream and lozenge were tainted at the time he took them?  

Last month Braun accepted a 65-game suspension resulting from Major League Baseball’s investigation of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of providing banned substances to players.

“By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction,” he said. “It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected — my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB.”

Braun also sent an apology letter to Brewers fans.

Braun was the first of 14 players disciplined this year as a result of the Biogenesis probe. Twelve accepted 50-game penalties, including a trio of All-Stars: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game penalty, assessed for violations of the drug program and labor contract.

In his initial meeting with MLB investigators to discuss Biogenesis, Braun declined to answer questions. But in the statement, he said he initiated a second session with MLB where he admitted his guilt and began discussing a penalty.

“After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth,” Braun said. “I was never presented with baseball’s evidence against me, but I didn’t need to be, because I knew what I had done.”

Braun’s urine tested positive for elevated testosterone from a sample collected on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, after Milwaukee’s NL division series opener against Arizona. The drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., stored the samples from Braun and two other players at home and dropped them off at a Federal Express office on Monday, rather than send them immediately, as specified in baseball’s drug collection rules.

The players’ association argued that the specimen was handled improperly, and arbitrator Shyam Das overturned the discipline on Feb. 23 last year.

During a news conference the following day on the field at Milwaukee’s spring training stadium in Phoenix, Braun proclaimed he had been vindicated and questioned Laurenzi’s methods. A week later Bruan’s lawyer criticized Laurenzi when the collector defended himself.

“I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards,” Braun said. “I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone.  For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.”

After he accepted his suspension on July 22 — 50 games for the drug infraction and 15 games for his conduct at the time of the grievance — Braun was heavily criticized by players around the major leagues.

“I thought this whole thing has been despicable on his part,” Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said. “When he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector when he was caught red-handed. So that’s why the whole Braun situation, there is so much player outrage toward him.”

But today, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said it’s time to get past this.

“To me, it doesn’t really matter what they say. Let’s lay down the penalties and move on,” he said. “I hope they continue to catch them.”

———

Here is the text of Braun's statement, released today by the Brewers:

Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.

I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.

It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents, and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am for that.

Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self-righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.

For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of — and the punishment for — my actions.

I requested a second meeting with Baseball to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected — my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.

I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.

I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.

I support baseball's Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game. What I did goes against everything I have always valued — achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people's trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers' organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them.






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