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The Real Crime is the Leak to Braun’s Test Results

By Mike Silva ~ December 16th, 2011. Filed under: Outside the Apple.

Since news leaked that Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun failed a drug test this past October, the media has focused on the legitimacy of records, awards, and whether Bud Selig’s attempt to clean up the sport of performance-enhancing drugs has been a failure. All those, in my opinion, are secondary issues, as the real crime is the fact that news leaked about the possible guilt of a man who could turn up innocent.

Sources have indicated that Braun’s testosterone was so high, that it was twice the level of anyone that has previously taken the test. FOX Sports reported that Braun indeed tested positive for a substance prohibited by MLB, but the substance was not a performance-enhancing drug. It was something “never seen in the history of (baseball’s) drug-prevention program.” Braun even texted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and said “This is all B.S. I am completely innocent.” He went on to add that he “can’t wait to get the opportunity” to tell his side of the story in a press conference.

Despite these claims, it hasn’t stopped the media from assuming he is guilty and preaching from their sanctimonious pulpit. The hot debate has been whether he should be stripped of his MVP award. Yesterday, however, gossip site Terez Owens reported that Braun could indeed be innocent because of medication he is taking for an alleged sexual transmitted disease. Since there is no cure for the alleged disease, doctors are forced to increase testosterone levels to prevent its outbreak. This is what triggered the odd result.

Later in the day, TO went on to say that sources within the Milwaukee organization told them that “Braun will be let off because he tested positive  for an STD and the medication given to him by his doctor is what caused the spike. Braun and his lawyers plan to go after whoever leaked the story because of HIPAA laws.”

This, I believe, is the real story. The results of drug tests are not supposed to be public under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program established by MLB and the Players Association in 2006. The Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) notifies the Player and the Club of the positive drug test result. In theory, there are only a handful of privileged people in on the process.

So where is the leak? It can be coming from one of five places: the commissioner’s office, the Brewers, Nez Balelo and CAA Sports, the HPAC, or CDT, the company that administers the drug tests for MLB. Since the process informs the player and team about the results, logic states the leak is coming from some corners of the Brewers organization, or worse yet, the commissioner’s office. Again, we can only speculate, but logic makes this a fair assumption.

In the day and age of technology it’s impossible to keep information a secret. In the past, you would have to pass the fire wall of the network news or editors at a newspaper. Their self-imposed “rules of journalism” acted as a bureaucratic wall to provide only the information they deemed necessary. I like to call it “content control.”

Today that type of behavior is impossible to administer. The battle for eyeballs on the web, print, and television makes every story fair game. If news organizations cripple themselves with outdated rules they lose the battle for viewers and readers. It’s an easy way to become extinct.  Sources don’t have to be vetted out, and gossip is what drives huge numbers. How many casual or non-baseball fans know the Ryan Braun story? Many more then cared about the fact he won the National League MVP.

This environment makes it harder, but not impossible, to control information. To their credit, MLB kept this a secret from over two months, as reports indicate Braun’s test results were first revealed in early October. That’s not good enough as the leak could potentially cause an unfair stigma to Braun, and even worse, lead to the embarrassing revelation of a medical condition. This is not only illegal, but starts to delve into the real territory of morality; not the fake outrage we see from the media when it comes to PED’s, the Hall of Fame, and awards voting.

To me, the real crime is how MLB’s drug program is not confidential.  This story proves any player is at risk for having their name tarnished with a false positive. All you could hope for is due process shakes itself out before your results are leaked to the media. If you were Michael Weiner wouldn’t you demand that Bud Selig create an emergency committee on this matter? The guy has committee’s for just about everything else. This is actually something that is bigger than just the game of baseball.

In the end, my real disappointment is with the media. They claim to want the moral high ground when it comes to steroids and baseball, but what they really want is eyeballs to their pulpit. If they were really outraged about the injustices to the game, they would be all over the breach of privacy when it comes to Ryan Braun.

Hopefully, those that admonished Braun the last week will take the time to admit their wrong with the same passion and energy if he is found innocent. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t count on it.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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22 Responses to The Real Crime is the Leak to Braun’s Test Results

  1. @bertomke

    Very well written!

  2. Joe Wenzel

    The Herpes defense – that’s a new one. But then again if taking this “medication” allows the athlete to have an unfair advantage (testosterone-level wise)…it’s not fair to the other players. He shouldn’t be “rewarded” for getting a sexually transmitted disease. Scratch that he already has been rewarded with a $100,000,000+ guaranteed contract.

  3. Mike Silva

    Again, would love to see how this medicine helps him… its higher testosterone, but does this specific drug provide him an advantage? Isn’t cortisone a PED then? Even more so.

    This PED stuff is so overblown. Personally, outside of hardcore stuff, I think the rest is just used more for a mental advantage versus physical.

  4. JR

    @Joe, you are an idiot. Do you really think he is being rewarded for having a sexually transmitted disease? You don’t know anything about Braun so shut your mouth. Do you think your perfect? What if something in your personal life was leaked out so everyone knew. Think before you open your stupid mouth

  5. Chuck Johnson

    Whether Braun has an STD is irrelevant, the fact he knowingly took something against the ML drug policy and is using it as a (weak) defense is bullbleep.

    He’s had more than enough time to make a statement, even if it was written by his lawyer, and yet all we hear are excuses and denials.

    Braun doesn’t owe me anything as a fan.

    But he’s damn lucky I’m not one of his teammates.

  6. Joe Wenzel

    Of course not, I don’t think Braun is being rewarded for having a STD – that’s why “rewarded” was in quotes. Next time I”ll precede my comments with “sarcasm alert” since I now know the level of my audience. According to the above article it states he has an incurable STD – Herpes is the only one I’m aware of…so yes, I do know something about Mr. Braun. No, I don’t think I’m perfect – though if I was ever arrested or caught doing something illegal I’d own up to it – it’s called character…something Mr. Braun, Mr. Bonds, Mr. Sosa, Mr. Ramirez et al lack.

  7. Clint

    Joe….you would surely lose a debate with a box of rocks. Your suggestion that he should be suspended from baseball if he has herpes is ridiculous. You should be sentenced to a punch in the face for being stupid.

  8. Stu B

    “Your suggestion that he should be suspended from baseball if he has herpes is ridiculous.”

    I didn’t see that suggestion anywhere.

  9. Joe Wenzel

    No where did I mention that Braun should be suspended for having Herpes. (In fact, I never mentioned he should be suspended – though if he took a banned substance he should be.) He’s already been punished for having Herpes – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Twice now I’ve been called stupid…I served my country for over 22 years (10 of them overseas) in the US Army with two of them as a Drill Sergeant, I have two Associate Degrees and one Bachelor of Science degree – believe me I am far from stupid.

    What was the old recruiting motto for the US Army “We do more before 9:00 AM (0900 for you military types) than most people do all day.”…well, times that by 22 years.

    When you can say you’ve done something for your country for one day let alone 22 years I might take your opinion seriously. Until then, keep hiding behind your keyboard and exhibiting that “liquid courage”.

    Now liquid courage children is when someone is real brave because they’ve been drinking where normally they’re not.

  10. Joe Wenzel

    Did I miss the memo? – Was it take your children to the Blog Day?

  11. Mike Silva

    I think the biggest error with Braun here is that he didn’t report the medication (I am assuming he didn’t, we don’t know of course). I am sure he could have received a medical exemption – I think there are about 130 players using Adderall, which can enhance performance from what I understand.

    I think the testing is a mess, we just don’t know the true impact of steroids and to suspend someone over this isn’t in the spirit of the law.

    As for using the word “stupid” the only person I see as “stupid” is Braun and his agent if they failed to disclose this… Joe Wenzel deserves are praise for serving the country. Guys like that have a rare gift that should be applauded.

  12. Adam Kirby

    I’m really tired of this blaming the messenger (media) crap. Condemn the leak of confidential info, that’s perfectly legit. But once it gets into the hands of the media, it would be negligent of them not to report it. It’s very obviously newsworthy, and they had every reason to believe it was accurate (even if incomplete). If this sort of thing hadn’t been reported in the past, then that’s an indictment of the old media, not of the new media.

  13. UncleMario

    After several names of the infamous 2003 list of MLB Players who failed the PED test became public, didn’t both MLB (Selig) and the MLBPA (Fehr/Weiner) took any steps to ensure confidentiality in future PED tests? One would assume that they covered it in the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. Just curious.

  14. Joe Wenzel

    The BIG QUESTION is what is Commissioner Selig going to do with a homegrown Brewer (Milwaukee’s equivalent to David Wright) that comes to him with a song and dance? Everyone else has been suspended.

    Considering Selig’s favoritism towards Wilpon vice McCourt (both are broke) it will be interesting if Selig again plays favorites. A commissioner needs to be fair and impartial and Selig’s track record is far from that.

    As far as your comment about him using adderall (primary use for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) that concerns me.

    You mention 130 players have permission to use it and it might enhance performance. Maybe Braun simply borrowed a pill from a teammate (who was authorized to use it) and got caught!

    Maybe I’m naive, but I thought kids primarily use it to help them pay attention in school so they’re not bouncing off the walls. I really don’t see much use for it after that time frame is over – it seems more like a crutch. I thought most people grow out of it.

    I wouldn’t put it past some of these players to claim ADHD just so they can use a permitted amphetamine (adderall). Just like the former 1st baseman for the Mets and Orioles (the name escapes me) got a doctor to say he needed to use human growth hormone even though he didn’t need it.

    These players need to stop whining about people questioning them and their motives because unfortunately their track record is not good and it would be negligence on our part (media or fans) to blindly believe them.

    And thanks Mike for the kind words enjoy your articles they’re very thorough and thought provoking. I don’t like to tell anyone what I’ve done but some people need to know that real people are actually behind these comments.

  15. Dave

    What does the other people on here not being in the military have to do with the argument? I am truely grateful for your service but don’t use it to put down others. I say a legitimate medical excuse is acceptable if true. Obviously since there is an exception in the CBA the players and owners are ok with someone taking a drug for medical reasons if it is banned. And if this is the case it has nothing to do with cheating, just being dumb and not reporting your prescription.

    Also, Braun did want to make a statement but was advised not to by MLB until his hearing was over. That’s even mentioned in this article.

    It is the media’s responsibility to control what they report. That’s the whole point of this article. So I do blame the media as well as the leak for the trouble this has caused for someone who may be innocent.

    I don’t think the Brewers were the source of the leak as Mark Attanasio said the team was not notified of the results yet pending the appeal. He learned of it the same way we all did.

  16. Joe Wenzel

    I might have misinterpreted your missive about adderall – you used it as an example of a permitted drug to use if reported to MLB not that Braun used it?

    Either way, I find it odd that almost 18% (130/750) of major leaguers use adderall. It would be interesting to know how many of these same players used it prior to amphetamines being banned.

    I don’t even think 18% of the general population is on adderall – it just seems odd to me that these superior athetic specimens need it more than the general population.

    Good point – I shouldn’t have equated serving your country with being a prerequisite for having a valid opinion…I came off bad for that one…not a big fan of being called stupid or being threatened with a punch in the face when such attacks were not provoked.

  17. Scott M

    It’s my understanding that adderall is a very commonly over prescribed drug for kids and young adults (like a lot of antibiotics for ear infections for young children).

    With the leaking of Braun’s positive test, what kind of scumbag does something like this?

    Second, once upon a time, the media knew that certain parts of a person’s life were strictly off limits. Back in the 1930′s a member of FDR’s administration, who was gay, propositioned 2 porters on a train for sex. The media knew about it but didn’t report it. Opening up a person’s closet just wasn’t done.

    When did that start? If a member of Obama’s adminstration propositioned someone for gay sex, can you imagine what the media today would do with that?

  18. Joe Wenzel

    You’re right it shouldn’t have come out until after it went through the entire process and was released officially….though why if there was a positive test in early October it’s not going to be addressed until January (3 months after the fact).

    I hope during the season they don’t sit on positive tests for 3 months before adjudicating them. (They didn’t with Manny Ramirez as far as I know.)

    If they act on them right away during the season they should do the same during the off-season and then maybe there wouldn’t be time for someone to leak it. (It was over 35 days before there was a leak so the system was working at least for that amount of time…not that that justifies it.)

  19. heyscuba

    I love the way this writer writes this,….

    “Braun even texted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and said “This is all B.S. I am completely innocent.” He went on to add that he “can’t wait to get the opportunity” to tell his side of the story in a press conference.”

    as if just because he texted that to someone we should automatically believe him and his story,….
    and as if we haven’t seen and heard a bunch of guys saying the same thing and later caught red handed,… and in some cases again,…

  20. Ed

    I haven’t heard one expert comment about this. Maybe you should wait for the facts least you look the fool.

  21. T.Hoffm

    I think what everyone is missing is the fact that ESPN OTL reported on a story, that was confidential in nature, pure speculation, and had an unvetable source. This entire story is completely void of facts. There is absolutely no journalistic integrity in reporting a story based on pure hearsay.
    To address another insane statement, @ Chuck: Do everyone a huge favor and disconnect your keyboard and just read and learn for a while. A.). Braun can’t make a statement. He is contractually bound to silence through the appeals process. B.) He will be filing suit in a civil court for hippa violations, defamation, and other such offenses against whomever leaked the story. A statement now could cost him millions. C.) How can anyone say he didn’t notify MLB of the med? WE DON’T KNOW ANY FACTS! This is my point. There are an intimate amount of scenarios that could possibly explain his innocense, or his guilt. To the millions who have rushed to judgemnt, baseball doesn’t need you. Take your support elsewhere. I hear the joke that is the NBA could use some support; regardless of the brainless nature one may possess. They’re not picky.

  22. MaryO

    Let see, someone has disease and need a medication to treat it. He shouldn’t take it because it’s banned? But he needs it? Maybe he should stop playing ball? If he reports it his condition will become public knowledge and HEPA states it’s private information . But wait…. someone felt it was their responsibility to report the test results to the world and now his very private life is public. Everyone just needs to stop and wait for the parties involved to work it out. Who knows what the truth is

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