Shortly after National League MVP Ryan Braun won his appeal of the 50-game suspension he received from MLB for testing positive for elevated testosterone, the Brewers' slugger addressed the media. Braun held a spring training press conference and spoke at length about his successful appeal. While addressing the "chain of custody" that was key to his appeal, he suggested to reporters that his sample may have been tampered with during the 44-hour window after it left Miller Park but before it was shipped to a lab in Montreal.
On Tuesday, Dino Laurenzi Jr., Braun's sample collector, issued a statement refuting the tampering allegations and claiming that he followed the collection program's procedures.
In the statement, which was first reported by the New York Daily News, Laurenzi explains that he has been a drug collector for Comprehensive Drug Testing since 2005 and that he has "performed over 600 collections for MLB and also have performed collections for other professional sports leagues." Laurenzi, who received a master’s in medicine/athletic training from North Carolina, then went on to explain how he handled Braun's sample:
I followed the same procedure in collecting Mr. Braun’s sample as I did in the hundreds of other samples I collected under the Program. I sealed the bottles containing Mr. Braun’s A and B samples with specially-numbered, tamper-resistant seals, and Mr. Braun signed a form certifying, among other things, that the specimens were capped and sealed in his presence and that the specimen identification numbers on the top of the form matched those on the seals. I placed the two bottles containing Mr. Braun’s samples in a plastic bag and sealed the bag. I then placed the sealed bag in a standard cardboard Specimen Box which I also sealed with a tamper-resistant, correspondingly-numbered seal placed over the box opening. I then placed Mr. Braun’s Specimen Box, and the Specimen Boxes containing the samples of the two other players, in a Federal Express Clinic Pack. None of the sealed Specimen Boxes identified the players. I completed my collections at Miller Park at approximately 5:00 p.m. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections, there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday. Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, CDT has instructed collectors since I began in 2005 that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office. The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident. The FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun’s samples never left my custody. Consistent with CDT’s instructions, I brought the FedEx Clinic Pack containing the samples to my home. Immediately upon arriving home, I placed the FedEx Clinic Pack in a Rubbermaid container in my office which is located in my basement. My basement office is sufficiently cool to store urine samples. No one other than my wife was in my home during the period in which the samples were stored. The sealed Specimen Boxes were not removed from the FedEx Clinic Pack during the entire period in which they were in my home. On Monday, October 3, I delivered the FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun’s Specimen Box to a FedEx office for delivery to the laboratory on Tuesday, October 4. At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples. It is my understanding that the samples were received at the laboratory with all tamper-resistant seals intact.
Last week, Braun explained that there were issues with the collection process and the collector that had been "concerning" to his camp, but he didn't go as far as to accuse anyone. He also said he is a "victim" of a drug testing process that is "fatally flawed" because "you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent."
Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred responded saying that the drug testing program is not "fatally flawed" and that neither "Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering."
In addition to his detailed explanation for the way he handled the situation, Laurenzi also revealed that this situation has "caused great emotional distress" for him and his family and requested that media and fans respect their privacy.
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