The Early Lead
Posted at 01:44 PM ET, 02/24/2012

Ryan Braun: “Today is about making sure that this never happens to anybody else who plays this game”

The day after Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension for a positive drug test was overturned on appeal, the Milwaukee Brewers’ left fielder went to work, reporting for spring training at the team’s Maryvale, Ariz., facility.

First on Braun’s list was a lengthy meeting with his teammates, followed by a press conference on the field. Braun began by thanking his teammates, athletes in other sports, the Brewers organization, fans, family and friends. “This is without a doubt the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life,” Braun said, “and it’s made it that much more challenging that I’ve had to deal with it publicly.”

Braun said, “although at the end of the day the truth prevailed,” he was considering his legal options and could not speak to all the details. He addressed the media for about 20 minutes with his teammates lending their presence in his support. Afterward he took a few questions, but here are parts of his compelling statement:

“I truly view this challenge as an opportunity, just as I view every other challenge I’ve faced in my life as an opportunity. I tried to respect this process, even though the confidentiality of this process was breached early on. I tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that’s who I am and how I’ve always lived my life.

“If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.’ By no means, am I perfect,but if I’ve ever made any mistakes in my life, I’ve taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.

(Jae C. Hong / AP)
“I’ve always had tremendous respect for the game of baseball and part of the reason that I’ve kept quiet throughout this ordeal and part of the reason I won’t be allowed to get into all the details today is to put the best interests of the game ahead of the best interests of myself and that hasn’t been easy. There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the entire story, attack everybody as I’ve been attacked, as my name as been dragged through the mud, as everything I’ve ever worked for in my entire life has been called into question. There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the entire story but at the end of the day I recognized what actually was best for baseball and I put that ahead of what was actually best for myself.

“I could have never ever envisioned being in this position today discussing this subject with you guys, but I truly believe everything in life happens for a reason. I learned a long time ago to stop questioning life. I believe that everything that’s thrown at us we’re able to handle and that there’s a reason for it. I’ve yet to figure out exactly what the reason for this is, but I don’t question that.

“I have always stood up for what is right. Today is about everybody who has ever been wrongly accused and everybody who’s ever had to stand up for what is actually right. Today is not just about me, not just about one player. It’s about all players. It’s about all current players, all future players and everybody who plays the game of baseball.”

Braun criticized “inaccurate, erroneous and fabricated” reports and said he has never had a medical issue or STD. “People continue to leak information that’s inaccurate.” Braun point ed out that he did not gain weight, speed or strength, although he was notified that he’d tested ”300 times” higher than anyone had. He described the test-taking process and questioned why the collector kept his sample 44 hours before mailing it to the testing facility in Montreal. Braun pointed out that multiple FedEx locations in the area were open until Saturday night and that the collector could have dropped the sample off after obtaining it Saturday afternoon.

(Jae C. Hong / AP)
“I will continue to take the high road because that’s who I am and that’s the way that I live my life. We won because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed. I am the victim of a process that completely broke down and failed in the way that it was applied in this case. As players we’re held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program and everybody else associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We’re part of a process where you’re 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. It’s the opposite of the American judicial system. This is not an innocent-until-proven-guilty system, so if we’re held to that standard, it’s only fair that everybody else is held to that standard. ... Today’s about making sure that this never happens to anybody else who plays this game.”

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By  |  01:44 PM ET, 02/24/2012

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