Ryan Braun PED Suspension Overturned

Wow!  Ryan Braun’s looming 50 game suspension for testing positive for elevated and artificial testosterone levels has been overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das.

All signs before the hearing suggested that it is extremely difficult to overturn a positive test and that Braun’s chances of escaping the mandatory suspension were slim to none.

Das did not submit a written opinion and still has 30 days to do so.  The ruling was a long time coming with several reports over the last few weeks that a decision was only a day or two away.  This strongly suggests the decision was a close one for Das and he had to pour over the evidence carefully.

Das has a tremendous record as a baseball arbitrator.  In a system involving a three man panel, where the MLB selected panel member always votes for the team, league or MLB and the union selected panel member always votes for the player or union, Das has been one of the few arbitrators both sides trust enough to keep going back to.

By way of comparison, Peter Seitz, the arbitrator who rightfully (it was the only reasonable decision under the law of contract) struck down the reserve clause in 1976, was summarily canned by MLB. Where both sides have to agree to the arbitrator, being right isn’t enough if the decision really disappoints one of the sides.

The early reports from espn.com suggest that the decision was made on the basis of chain of custody — that is, MLB couldn’t show that the blood sample that was tested came out of Ryan Braun’s arm — reportedly due to the tester or a courier not transmitting the sample immediately to Federal Express for shipment to the lab were the sample would be tested.

I’ll wait to read the report from Shyam Das.  Everything I’ve ever heard is that Das is a smart and capable arbitrator, and I’ll wait to see what he has to say in writing before I pass any judgment of my own.  People who pass judgment without actually reading the opinion will likely be guided by their own prejudices rather than the facts.

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