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Saturday, February 25, 2012

MLB drug testing thrown for a loop

So let's get this all straight now, because the information about Ryan Braun's suspension being erased is mindboggling.

His 50-game suspension is eliminated because the urine sample he gave on Oct. 1 sat on someone's desk and wasn't sent via FedEx (when you absolutely, positively need it send overnight) until Oct. 3?

That Braun's pee became tainted because it sat there for two days? Or that you can't get a positive read on two-day old pee? Or just that the technicality of the whole thing, that it wasn't properly sealed and sent, because, after all, it had to get from Milwaukee to some lab in Canada absolutely positively overnight?

So what was it? From what I'm reading this morning, the suspension was tossed out because the proper procedure was not followed and that since there might be some ambiguity involved with two-day old pee, then the suspension goes bye-bye and everything is good with the world.

So was Braun really positive for performance-enhancing drugs or not? We'll never know. However, if his performance at the plate dips dramatically this season, even with former teammate Prince Fielder now in Detroit, then we should know the answer to that.

Did anyone catch Fielder's comments about Braun having his suspension removed?

"Hey, I don't know anything about it, but I'm glad for Ryan," Fielder said.

That's OK, big fella. None of us really know anything about it. Only Braun knows for sure.

And Braun's stance yesterday was absurd. He stood there, holding a press conference, boldly proclaiming his innocence like he did all along, saying that "the truth prevailed."

No, Ryan, the truth didn't prevail. You got off on a technicality. It's the same as a murderer walking free because some cop didn't read him his Miranda rights. There's no truth being revealed here.

His words are very disturbing.

"I am a victim," Braun said at a press conference in Arizona Friday. "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I would be the first one to step up and say I did it. This substance never entered my body at any point. … There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, to attack everybody as I’ve been attacked and had my name dragged through the mud."

He continued on: "Today is about anybody who has been wrongly accused. The system and the way it was applied to me in this case was fatally flawed. This simple truth is I’m innocent."

Nope. You're not guilty of one thing. You're not guilty of someone not taking your pee and having it shipped properly to the lab in the proper time.

How about Braun's comments about "admitting" it. If you did it, you would have admitted it? WOW, we're going to believe that? It's like believing that Pete Rose didn't bet on baseball. No one admits they do ANYTHING illegal unless they're caught red-handed.

You wanted to tell your entire story? OK, then do it. The story Braun gave MLB investigators is that he was taking a cream to battle a sexually transmitted disease, either herpes or gonorrhea, and that cream is what caused his testosterone level to explode off the charts, apparently reaching levels never before reached in any tests. Was that mentioned Friday? No way.

Apparently, he's the "Hebrew Hammer" in more ways than one.

So Braun gets off scot free and everything is good with the world, right?

Hardly. It's going to send every single MLB test for performance-enhancing drugs right to the court room. Every single one from now on will be appealed.

Right now, Roger Clemens is appealing all uses of syringes. Barry Bonds is appealing the fact that he ever visited BALCO or that his name appears on the Mitchell Report. Hell, let's not stop there. Let's appeal the entire Mitchell Report. Rafael Palmeiro is appealing the fact that he never really appeared in front of Congress to say he never used steroids. It's going to be one litany of appeals.

Because this screw-up leaves the door _ and window, for that matter _ open for every single PED case in baseball, and maybe other sports, from now on.

And a sport that has been ravaged by cheaters over the past 20 years or so will now get even more destroyed, simply because people who are paid good money to make sure that urine tests are accurate screwed the whole thing up.

What about the hit FedEx takes with this? "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, unless it's pee." Maybe they have to change their motto.

So what do we know?

Do we know Ryan Braun is innocent? No.

Do we know he didn't do anything illegal? No.

What we do know is that two out of three arbiters agreed that there were no legal grounds for suspension because the drug test COULD have been tainted.

Yes, our national pastime. It's more like our national pisstime.

And if I'm Ryan Braun, I better hope to the Lord above that I hit .330 with 30 homers and 110 RBI this year, to prove that maybe, just maybe, the test was inaccurate. Because if he slumps just a hair, then everyone will think the same thing. His MVP year was enhanced by the cream he was putting on his privates.
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Plain and simple, the Star-Ledger's "investigation" and subsequent reporting on the North Bergen "recruiting" situation has now become an obsession, a vendetta and a witch hunt.

Both reporters Craig Wolff (who I've spoken to and written e-mails to about his inaccuracies) and Mike Vornukov continue to bombard the paper about the stories that legendary football coach Vince Ascolese "recruited" two players to play for the North Bergen football team that won the state championship.

The fact of the matter is this: Ascolese did not recruit anyone. There's no proof of recruitment.

These reporters, one of whom used false pretenses to gain access to people in North Bergen, continue to write the dirtiest word in high school athletics, namely recruiting, and associate it with Ascolese when they have no legitimate proof.

They're basing the entire story on the words of a disgruntled parent, who abandoned his 17-year-old son and left him unattended in an apartment that he was supposed to pay only $300 a month for, then when he refused to pay and the landlord got upset, he went scurrying to the Star-Ledger to cry.

The only problem in the story is that the landlord was Ascolese. He should have never set up a cushy deal for the players. He should have never gotten involved in their housing in the first place. That was his mistake.

But recruiting? There's no way.

However, Wolff and Vornukov (who couldn't bother to stand at attention during the national anthem at a recent Seton Hall game, drinking his soda and Tweeting and texting throughout the anthem, like he was on some important deadline, even though the game started at NOON) continue to berate and pound this non-story.

Vornukov can't even stop drinking and typing for a minute and a half to give the country that he works in a proper sense of respect? It was embarrassing to watch. I know, because I was two seats away from him on press row.

What do they hope to happen? That the NJSIAA strips North Bergen of its state championship and they can put that in their pelt collection? Well, guess again. It's not going to happen. The NJSIAA's Controversies Committee, which will hear the case, isn't about to strip a state championship over the cries of a disgruntled father who didn't want to pay rent after abandoning his child.

To write their first story as part of their ''investigation" is one thing. To continue makes it a witch hunt. Who do you think the NJSIAA is going to believe? A coach with 50 years of dedication to the game of football, with an unblemished record for all those years, or two reporters on a witch hunt and a father who wasn't doing his job as a parent? I'm betting on the coach.

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You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com. I'm not conducting any witch hunts in any of those publications.

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