Gaby Sanchez backs Ryan Braun’s denial

JUPITER -- Ryan Braun said publicly Friday what he has been privately telling Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, his friend and former University of Miami teammate, for months: that he was “wrongly accused” over a positive drug test.

“I am the victim of a process that completely broke down and failed,” Braun said one day after his 50-game suspension was overturned on appeal. A panel of arbitrators ruled in favor of Braun, who said he has been vindicated after it was shown that the person who collected his urine sample, which later tested positive for a high level of testosterone, took it home and kept it for two days before mailing it immediately to a drug-testing lab.

The outcome came as no surprise to Sanchez, who said he always felt certain that his friend did nothing wrong. Sanchez, who talks frequently with Braun, said the Milwaukee Brewers’ superstar has been adamant that he did not commit any infractions.

“I believed him 100 percent when he told me he didn’t do it,” Sanchez said shortly before Braun held a news conference in Arizona to tell his side of the story. “He would have told me [if had violated the drug policy]. He’s the type of person who would have come out and said, ‘Hey, I screwed up. I did wrong. I’m sorry to everybody.’

“But as soon as it happened, I got a text message from him saying that, ‘This is idiotic. This is ridiculous. I didn’t do anything.’ ’’

Braun learned Oct. 19 his sample was positive for elevated testosterone, which he said was at a ratio that was the highest ever recorded in baseball’s testing program. The positive tests, had it stood up, would have caused him be suspended for the first 50 games of the season.
ESPN reported the positive test in December.

Braun, who was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player last season, criticized the media for leaking the positive test.

“My name has been dragged through the mud as everything I’ve ever worked for in my life has been called into question,” he said.

Arbitrator Shyam Das threw out Braun’s ban on Thursday, making it the first time that a player has successfully challenged a drug-related violation. MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management “vehemently disagrees” with Das’ decision.

Braun said that, because of the delay sending his sample to a lab, the testing was “fatally flawed.”

“I don’t honestly know what happened to it in that 44-hour period,” he said.

Sanchez and Marlins catcher John Buck, who also serves as the team’s union representative, said that the testing procedure needs to be reexamined.

“The procedure has to change,” Sanchez said. “No one ever thought before, are they able to do stuff with these [samples]? Is someone able to contaminate the product?

“We didn’t think about that. We didn’t know that somebody could keep it for two days, either.”

Said Buck: “As a player, I definitely want that looked into.”

Braun said he’s fully aware that, despite prevailing with his appeal, there will continue to be skeptics who think he cheated and got away with it on a technicality.

“I’m not dumb enough to pretend that this is going to go away,” he said.

But Braun said he “didn’t gain a single pound” or “get a tenth of a second faster” or “get one percent stronger” during the course of last season when he was monitored regularly. He also said he passed three drug tests over the course of the regular season.

“I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body,” he said. “We won because the truth is on my side.”

This report was supplemented with material from Miami Herald wire services.

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