After months of denials, attempts to place blame on others – including the drug testing official who handled his sample – and a lengthy suspension that has tarnished his professional accomplishments, Milwaukee Brewers player Ryan Braun issued a formal public apology. It’s the latest piece to the puzzle of Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug (PED) scandal, involving nearly 20 professional players who served or are serving sanctioned suspensions in the wake of the news that players were given PEDs by the owner of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Florida. Until now, Braun has not formally taken responsibility for his part in the drama, although he did accept his 65-game suspension quietly, which many took to be an admission of guilt, especially in light of Alex Rodriguez’s vocal denial and appeal of his 211 game suspension.
Why the apology? What did Braun admit to? And what does this mean for his future, as well as the futures of the rest of the players involved in the ongoing drama?
Braun issued his apology to both his fans and fellow players in a statement where he came clean about his PED use for the first time, and also admitted to lying and placing blame on others in order to hide his wrongdoing. Specifically, Braun admitted to receiving a lozenge and a cream from Tony Bosch’s Biogenesis of America clinic, the same clinic that provided PEDs to Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and almost a dozen other players. Both items Braun took contained substances banned by the MLB, although Braun did not specify if he knew the substances were banned at the time he took them. Braun says he took the items containing the banned substances to help him recover quicker from an injury he had, and he did say he made a huge mistake and further compounded it by not admitting what he had done when confronted with the evidence. In fact, he almost got away with it for a while.
The facts of Braun’s case are fairly simple, but the lengths he went to cover up his “mistake” muddy the water quite a bit. Way back in October of 2011, a drug collector by the name of Dino Laurenzi, Jr. collected a urine sample from Braun and two others. He took the samples to his home and stored them until he could bring them to an approved Fed Ex facility, which brought the validity of the samples into question. When it came to light that Braun’s sample tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, he successfully got a looming 50-game suspension overturned on the grounds that the sample wasn’t valid. He went on to try to discredit the sample collector himself by insulting his choice of team allegiance (the Cubs) and calling him anti-Semitic, and he also repeatedly denied ever using PEDs, even during his first formal meeting with MLB investigators.
Eventually, however, the guilt of his secrets began to get to him, presumably as he watched player after player get pulled into the mess, and he decided to call his own meeting with investigators and came clean. Now, after the dust has settled a little, his statement seems to many who supported him and believed him to be too little, too late.
“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,” he says in his apology statement. “I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them.” Only time will tell if his teammates and fans will stand behind him.