As we all now know, that scoundrel Ryan Braun found a way to convince an independent arbitrator essentially that the appropriate agreed upon procedures were not followed. The big question I have to ask, is why weren't they followed and what are the repercussions should others need to pass a surprise blind drug test.
Braun's argument was that he had never been named prior as a user or suspected rumor, never showed symptoms of use, that no one in the history of baseball had ever shown such high rates of testosterone before, and most importantly, that the proper protocol was not followed in taking the sample. The first three points mean nothing without the fourth, but let's go ahead and knock those out like the Zack Duke hanging curve balls that they are. Braun had never been named as a user, because he was probably smart enough to use a trusted confidant to acquire said substances or because he went himself. Just because no one has ratted him out doesn't mean he's not guilty. While Braun and his attorney would have you believe he has never shown symptoms of use, I would say that a .130 point increase in one's OPS driven primarily by slugging numbers (at least Bonds walked) and an MVP award coming off a year with decreased power numbers is a sign. Finally while no-one has every tested shown testosterone results as high in baseball doesn't mean that these results aren't in line with past results from bicyclists and olympic athletes that have failed.
Now for the troubling part. What convinced Shyam Das to overturn the suspension was that the testing policy requires the sample taker to deliver the sample directly to FedEx as quickly as is possible. Because the sample was taken on a Saturday, after an October 1 playoff game no less, it was not able to be taken to Fedex. To get more specific. After a three hour and forty three minute game, an hour of post game interviews, Braun finally would've been available for the drug test. The game started at 2:07 Est. I would estimate that the earliest he could've been tested was at around 7PM. So the tester took the sample home and stored it in a re-fridgerator. The sample has a certified seal that was not tampered with in any way, and there is no correlation to chilling a sample and testosterone increasing. That being said it was determined that appropriate procedure was not followed and therefore the suspension was overturned.
My biggest question is why did this happen on a Saturday? Why did the tester wait until after the game? Did Braun violate the protocol? I find it very hard to believe that the sample couldn't have been taken before the game when the sample could have been sent timely to FedEx. So now my question is what is the policy if a player delays providing the sample. Now that players know that they can just delay the sample until a time in which fedex won't be open to beat the system, there is nothing to prevent wide-spread rampant cheating. By the time the results were out, Braun had ample time to cleanse his system and pass a re-test. Given the circumstances, this sets a terrible terrible precedent. I look forward to watching the MLB find a way to get this upheld.