ST LOUIS, MO: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after he struck out to end the top of the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun - this season's National League MVP - has reportedly tested positive for PED use, and is staring at a 50-game suspension.
The Milwaukee Brewers were already facing the likelihood of going forward without Prince Fielder, who is currently a free agent. But matters now have only gotten worse: according to a report from ESPN, outfielder Ryan Braun - winner of the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award - has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and is looking at a probable 50-game suspension.
It's news worthy of this ominous tweet from Bob Nightengale:
#MLB about to be hit with a bombshell. Hard to believe this news
The report says that Braun submitted a urine sample during the playoffs, which showed elevated levels of testosterone - synthetic testosterone. Synthetic testosterone, as in not natural testosterone. Players aren't supposed to have that.
If the finding is upheld, Braun will be suspended for 50 games for a first-time offense. Braun, naturally, is very strongly denying any intentional wrongdoing on his part, and he could very well be correct. I don't know. There's no way for me to know right now whether or not this was a conscious decision. His spokesman says there was "no intentional violation of the program". But in order to successfully appeal the suspension - which no MLB player has ever done - Braun can't just prove negligence. He has to prove that something he ingested was, say, tampered with, or something like that.
It's a big blow. Obviously, it's a big blow. Braun will almost certainly be suspended, and perhaps the priority now will be saving face. Even if negligence can't prevent a suspension, it would make Braun look better to fans than if he did this on purpose. Fans can forgive negligence.
Braun has a lifetime .933 OPS, which jumped to .984 last year in his MVP campaign. He has been held up in the past as an example of a clean baseball superstar, so this is awkward now.