Monday, July 22, 2013

Braun Merely the First Domino

                    By Ross Newhan

                     The first domino in baseball's determined investigation into the distribution of banned substances through a Florida "wellness clinic" has now fallen.

                     The suspension of Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun for the rest of the season without pay is expected to be just the first of possibly a dozen or more suspensions, claiming, perhaps, Alex Rodriguez and Nelson Cruz, among others.

                    Braun, a former National League MVP, did not appeal his penalty for "violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program," MLB said in a statement.

                    That drug program, considered the toughest in professional sports, and the sweeping investigation into the since closed Biogenesis clinic, may be seen as coming too late to benefit the sport's non-cheaters, many of whom paid a significant price statistically and financially, during the height of the Steroids Era, but that should not diminish the steps that MLB has since taken and now continues to take.

                  In a statement, Braun said: "As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."

                 Braun's suspension fell under the commissioner's power to discipline for "just cause" rather than a violation of the Joint Drug Agreement relating to failed drug tests. Braun's links to Biogenesis, established in the investigation, according to MLB sources, and the testimony of Anthony Bosch, a director of the clinic who has cooperated with MLB investigators in an attempt to escape possible legal ramifications.

               In Braun's case, MLB also considered his failed drug test in the 2011 post-season, which was overturned on an appeal relating to the chain of evidence protocols.

              It is unclear how many other players facing potential suspension because of the Biogenesis investigation will accept their penalty without appeal, as Braun has.

              According to MLB sources, Braun met with investigators on June 29 and failed to answer questions relating to the clinic. However, after weighing the depth of the evidence against him, the sources say Braun asked for a second meeting and opted to accept a deal that would limit his ban to the remainder of this season, a total of 65 games compared to the 50 game penalty for a first failed drug test.          

           MLB is expected to announce remaining suspensions all at once. 

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