Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers is the first MLB big name to be suspended in what is a potentially far reaching drug investigation.
Braun a 2011 National League MVP was suspended without pay for the rest of the season and the post-season Monday, the start of sanctions involving players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
Braun accepted the 65-game ban and in a statement of admission said “I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions,”
Yankees Star Alex Rodriguez and more than a dozen players were targeted by MLB following a report by Miami New Times in January that they had been connected with Biogenesis of America, a now-closed anti-aging clinic.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced Braun’s penalty, citing the outfielder for unspecified “violations” of both baseball’s drug program and labour contract. Braun will miss the Milwaukee Brewers’ final 65 games without pay, costing him about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary. With the Brewers in last place in the NL Central, they aren’t likely to have any playoff games for him to miss.
“I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed,” Braun said. “I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Braun’s acceptance of the suspension marks a 180-degree turnaround from his defiant spring training news conference in Phoenix last year, after his 50-game ban was overturned.
The Brewers star was hitting .298 with nine homers and 38 RBIs this year, slowed by a thumb injury that limited him to one game between June 9 and Friday. He was at Miller Park before Monday’s game against San Diego and addressed the Brewers, then left without speaking to reporters.
Braun met with MLB investigators in late June. Baseball’s probe was boosted when Anthony Bosch, who ran Biogenesis, agreed last month to co-operate with the sport’s investigators.
The suspension is the latest in a string of high-profile drug cases across sports. Cyclist Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, ended years of denials in January, admitting he doped to win. Positive tests were disclosed this month involving sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson.
By serving the entire penalty this year, Braun gains a slight monetary advantage. His salary increases to $10 million next year, when a 65-game suspension would cost him about $500,000 more.
Negotiations over penalties for other players haven’t begun, according to a second person familiar with the probe, also speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Rodriguez acknowledged using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has denied taking them since.
A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez has been sidelined all season following January hip surgery and was hoping to be activated this week. A quadriceps injury developed while he played at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and caused him to remain on the disabled list. He is not expected at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., until Wednesday.
Braun became the latest star tripped up by baseball’s drug rules.
Four All-Stars this year have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon enjoying a great season and Detroit shortstop Peralta.
Other players tied to Biogenesis in media reports include Melky Cabrera now with the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Seattle catcher Jesus Montero.