Braun also, cryptically, spoke of “a lot of things we learned” about the collector and the collection process that “made us very concerned and suspicious about what could have actually happened.
“We spoke to biochemists and scientists, asked them how difficult would it be to tamper with somebody’s sample,” Braun said. “Their response was that, if they were motivated, it would be extremely easy.”
Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations, took exception to some of Braun’s comments, saying the sport’s testing program is “not ‘fatally flawed’,” and pointing out that Braun’s defense never contended the sample had been tampered with.
Manfred also defending the collector’s actions, saying they were consistent with the instructions given, but he acknowledged the arbitrator found those instructions to be “not consistent with certain language” in the MLB testing program. Manfred also said “changes will be made promptly” to clarify those instructions.
While noting he did not wish to make false accusations, Braun implied he is considering legal action against both the collector and those whom he believes leaked the confidential results of the drug test to ESPN.
“Everything I’ve worked for my entire life was called into question,” he said. “. . . I lived through a nightmare every day for the last four months.”
After Thursday’s announcement that the suspension had been overturned, MLB issued a release saying it “vehemently disagreed” with the arbitrator’s ruling. When Braun was asked about that reaction, he said only that is was “a little sad disappointing that this has become a PR battle.”
As Braun spoke, about a dozen of his Brewers teammates, along with Manager Ron Roenicke, sat in the stands in support. Just before stepping in front of the cameras, Braun addressed his teammates in a players-only meeting in the clubhouse. Until Thursday, the Brewers had spent the past four months unsure if they would have their best player for roughly the first third of the season.
“It’s a flawed system,” veteran outfielder Corey Hart said. “Instead of blaming people for what happened, [management has] to take responsibility. The system is not as good as we thought it was. It’s very discouraging. Ryan’s offseason was ruined because of it, and MLB’s reaction made it worse.”
Braun acknowledged the long, difficult task he has in regaining his reputation, saying, “I’m not dumb enough to pretend this is going away.”
“One of my biggest regrets having gone through this situation is that I can never get that time of my life back,” he said. “It should have been an amazing time in my life. My team had an incredible season last year — finished two wins short of the World Series. I had a great year individually. I should have been able to enjoy the offseason, and I didn't.”