Ryan Braun suspension expected after all-star break

ESPN reported Tuesday that Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun would not answer questions from Major League Baseball investigators about his connection to the Biogenesis clinic and former operator Tony Bosch and is expected to be suspended along with several other players after the all-star break.

A commissioner's office spokesman said the ESPN report was "premature" in saying that a decision had been made to suspend Braun or any player suspected of buying performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch.

"We are still in the midst of an active investigation," said spokesman Pat Courtney. "No decisions (on suspensions) have been made."

MLB has been in the process of interviewing players whose names were listed on documents from Biogenesis leaked to various news organizations at the start of the year. Braun's name was listed more than once with payments owed Bosch, but Braun has maintained his attorneys merely used Bosch as a consultant for what became a successful appeal of a positive test for elevated testosterone levels in October 2011.

Bosch initially supported Braun's consultant claim. But he later agreed to cooperate with the MLB investigation to have litigation against him dropped and could have changed his testimony. Because Bosch might not be considered a credible witness, however, MLB would need solid evidence against Braun to make a suspension stick.

Through the Brewers' media relations department, Braun said he would not comment on the latest ESPN report. He was back in the starting lineup against Cincinnati at Miller Park after missing a month with a thumb injury.

Braun was interviewed by MLB on June 29 while the Brewers were in Pittsburgh and declined to answer questions relating to Biogenesis and Bosch. In essence, he took the fifth, a decision that had to be supported by his representatives at the meeting. At least one representative from the players' union was present as well, as agreed upon by MLB.

ESPN said Commissioner Bud Selig's office is considering 100-game bans for both Braun and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense under the MLB drug policy. Neither player has yet been found guilty of a first offense.

The thinking behind a 100-game suspension is that Braun and Rodriguez, and perhaps others, committed multiple offense by buying PEDs, then lying about it. Or, in Braun's case, refusing to answer questions about it.

MLB did suspend minor-league pitcher Cesar Carrillo, a former teammate of Braun's at the University of Miami, for 100 games for refusing to cooperate earlier this year with the Biogenesis investigation. Carrillo did not have the protection of the Major League Baseball Players Association and therefore couldn't appeal the penalty.

MLB is expected to announce any suspensions from Biogenesis shortly after the all-star break. Players who draw suspensions and appeal them would be allowed to keep playing until a ruling is made by an arbitration panel. Depending on the number of appeals, that process could take several weeks.

Under the MLB drug policy, suspensions levied for failed drug tests are supposed to be kept confidential until the appeal process is completed and denied. Because the names of players connected to Biogenesis have been made public, however, MLB intends to announce any suspensions en masse before appeals.

Whether MLB would try to suspend Braun merely for refusing to answer questions about the Biogenesis investigation remains to be seen. Because the idea has been floated that MLB has a vendetta against Braun for winning the appeal of his drug test in February 2012, MLB likely would have to produce evidence or testimony that he bought PEDs from Bosch.

The "vendetta" notion came after MLB vigorously protested the decision of arbitrator Shayam Das, who ruled in Braun's favor, then later fired Das. Braun was exonerated by Das because of questions about the chain of custody of Braun's urine sample, which MLB officials considered a technicality.

Braun repeatedly has denied using PEDs, dating to his appeal of his positive drug test. By declining to answer questions about Biogenesis and Bosch, he and his representatives basically decided not to give MLB anything it could use against him in the investigation.

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