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Legal Arbitration Decides Ryan Braun not Suspended for Doping

Wednesday, February, 29, 2012

The 2011 National Baseball League MVP and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, Ryan Braun will continue to play ball, according to a legal arbitration decision. The case and the decision alike has caused quite a stir among professionals and fans alike. The cause? Braun tested positive for taking performance enhancing drugs, or “doping.” He contested—apparently effectively—that the sample was possibly tampered with.


Braun's Case in the Contract Arbitration


According to Braun, the sample was obtained on October 1, near the end of the season. It was a Saturday, and the collector delivered the sample to the lab on Monday. Rather than let it sit at a Fed Ex office for a weekend, he kept it at home. This, he argued, provided an opportunity for tampering. At any rate, according to the letter of the agreement between players and baseball officials, “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."


The sample showed elevated levels of synthetic testosterone. Braun, upon finding out this result, requested a second test, which came up negative. It was then that he appealed the results of the first test.


Controversy Over the Arbitration Attorney's Decision


Shyam Das, the default third-party attorney for MLB's arbitrations, ruled that Braun was “not guilty” of using performance enhancing drugs on the basis that he presented a reasonable situation where the chain of custody was undermined and opened the possibility for tampering.


MLB officials, the US Anti-Doping Agency and a large cross-section of baseball fans are crying “foul” over this decision. Of course, many other baseball fans agree with the decision, or at least are glad the case is over.


One major issue is the question of the relative integrity between the collector and the legal arbitration attorney. The collector's integrity is often referenced as being above reproach, and accusations are being bandied about that Mr. Das may have been bribed. Shyam Das has performed his duty since 1977, and his resume is available online. After seeing his credentials, what conclusions can be drawn on his credibility?