Shortly after 11 a.m., Braun, as well-coiffed and polished as any of the talking heads who soon began lobbying questions at him, strode to a podium set up in foul territory on the Maryvale Baseball Park field, pulled out some notes, and set about poking giant holes in baseball’s drug-testing program.
“I am the victim of a process that completely broke down and failed,” Braun said, “. . . The program, in the way that it was applied to me, was absolutely fatally flawed.”
For baseball, it is both a blessing and a curse that fate chose Braun as the first player in history to successfully challenge a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs. He is not only one of the sport’s best players, a 28-year-old package of power and speed nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer,” but also one of its most articulate and telegenic. It is not hyperbole to say there isn’t a player in baseball who could have delivered a more impassioned and convincing performance — even accounting for the legal and PR advice he was surely given beforehand — under such dire circumstances.
“I've tried to handle the situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism,” he said, “because that’s who I am and that’s how I’ve always lived my life. . . . By no means am I perfect. But if I've ever made mistakes in my life, I've taken responsibility for my actions.
“I truly believe in my heart and would bet my life that the substance never entered my body at any point. . . . I did not do this.”
But even at the end of the remarkable 24-minute news conference, less than a day after the news came that Braun’s appeal of his 50-game suspension had been upheld, it was impossible to know whether Braun was, as he said, a victim — of either sloppy chain-of-custody procedures or straight-up sabotage — or a very good liar who took illegal synthetic testosterone last fall and beat the charges on a technicality.
“We won,” he said, “because the truth is on my side.”
Braun, citing the standard “ongoing legal matter” stance, did not provide many details of his “clean” defense, or any concrete explanations as to how his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio on the urine test in question registered at a level (reportedly 20-to-1) that was three times higher than any other sample in the history of baseball’s testing program.