Thursday, we learned that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun had become the first player to win an appeal of a failed drug test, which meant he would not be suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season.
Friday, Braun spoke to the media in a press conference televised live by Major League Baseball Network.
After thanking any number of people for their support, Braun addressed the events of the last few months:
I've tried to respect this process, even though the confidentiality of the process was breached early on. I've tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity, and with professionalism because that's who I am, and that's how I've always lived my life.
If I had done this intentionally, or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step 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.
There's obviously been a great deal of speculation about what led to Braun's failed drug test; most involved performance-enhancing drugs, but there's also been talk of medical conditions for which Braun was taking medication, and the speculation merely increased when one of his representatives said, "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program."
Which suggested there might have been an unintentional violation of the program. But Braun did not address that possibility at all, saying instead:
There's never been a personal medical issue, never had an STD. Many of the stories that were erroneously reported by the initial network continue to live on. And it's sad, and disappointing, that this has become a PR battle and people continue to leak information that's inaccurate.
I am a victim of a process that completely broke down, and failed in the way that it was applied to me 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 that standard.
The system, in the way that it was applied to me in this case, was fatally flawed.
Then, Braun went back to last October and his reaction to being informed that he'd failed the drug test:
The initial test result in question was on October 1st. It was a playoff game. I was made aware of the positive test result on October 19th, at which point I had a conversation with the Players' Association. I expressed to them that I had not done anything that could have possibly led to this test result. I told them, "I promise you, on everything that's ever meant anything to me in my life -- the morals, the values, the virtues by which I've lived for my 28 years on this planet -- I did not do this." I told them that I would be an open book. I opened up my life to them. I told them I would be more than happy and willing to take every test to prove that I did not do this.
At the point that I told the Players' Association about the positive test, they told me that the test result was three times higher than any number in the history of drug testing.
It all comes back to the process:
We spoke to biochemists and scientists and asked them how difficult it would be for someone to taint the sample. They said, if they were motivated, it would be extremely easy.
Tainting a sample might be easy, but presumably not so easy to circumvent the multiple checks that ensure the container has been sealed between the moment of collection and delivery to the testing facility. And nobody has yet suggested that the seals had been subject to tampering.
For some, this will remain the pressing question: What could have happened to that sample before being dispatched to the testing facility? If the seals were not compromised. Friday, Ryan Braun did make a great number of claims about his integrity, and we have no particularly good reasons to doubt those claims. Aside from one failed drug test. But we still don't know what went wrong, exactly. Or even approximately.