Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, a five-time all-star and former National League MVP and rookie of the year, was suspended Monday for the remainder of the season without pay, the first major league player to be disciplined as a result of Major League Baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis, a South Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said the suspension was for unspecified “violations” of the collective bargaining and joint drug agreement. The suspension began immediately, with 65 games left in the Brewers’ season. Braun, 29, will not be paid the remainder of his $8.5 million salary.
“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a statement released by MLB. “I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
Braun avoided a 50-game suspension last year when an arbitrator overturned his positive drug test for elevated testosterone levels because he and his legal team successfully argued that his urine sample was incorrectly handled. But Braun and other major leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera, were subsequently linked to Biogenesis, a now-defunct clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., in a January report by the Miami New Times.
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” said Rob Manfred, an executive vice president for MLB who has overseen the investigation. “We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter.”
Recent media reports said MLB was aggressively investigating and collecting evidence on players linked to the clinic in order to build cases for discipline without a positive drug test. MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner suggested last week that the players’ union was negotiating suspension for players.
“I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step,” Weiner said Monday in a statement. “It vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field.”
MLB’s investigation also has involved Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. He was linked to Biogenesis in the New Times report. Two later ESPN reports said Gonzalez was the only player identified who did not receive banned substances from the clinic. He has denied using any performance-enhancing drugs.
The Nationals and the players’ union are confident Gonzalez will escape any discipline. MLB investigators were expected to interview all players linked to Biogenesis, and Gonzalez met recently with league officials. Asked Monday about Gonzalez’s status in the investigation, an MLB spokesman declined to comment.