Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season without pay by Major League Baseball for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
MLB announced the suspension on Monday and Braun issued a brief statement, apologizing for unspecified "mistakes." The Brewers have 65 games remaining on their regular-season schedule. The five-time All-Star will lose about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary, according to The Associated Press.
"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes," Braun said in a statement at the Brewers' official website. "I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed - all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. 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."
The 2011 National League MVP, Braun's suspension followed weeks of media reports indicating that several players, including Alex Rodriguez, would be suspended by MLB for connections to anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. The shuttered clinic in Miami is at the epicenter of the latest scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs to rock baseball. In January 2013, the Miami New Times obtained and published documents purportedly chronicling the use of performance-enhancing drugs -- including human growth hormone and anabolic steroids -- by several prominent MLB players, including Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.
Although Braun was not named in the initial Miami New Times report, the 29-year-old All-Star was linked to Biogenesis in a subsequent report by Yahoo! Sports. Braun claimed his attorneys had used Anthony Bosch, the operator of Biogenesis, as a consultant during his successful appeal of a positive drug test during the 2011 season.
In June, T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez and Mike Fish of ESPN's "Outside The Lines" reported that Braun and Rodriguez were among a group of approximately 20 players that MLB was seeking to suspend for connections to Bosch and Biogenesis. Citing an unnamed source described as familiar with the case, ESPN reported MLB Commissioner Bud Selig could seek 100-game suspensions for players involved.
Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Braun had refused to answer questions from MLB investigators during a meeting on June 29. In the aftermath of MLB announcing Braun's suspension on Monday, MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred were hailing the Brewers' star for his cooperation and willingness to accept the suspension without an appeal.
"I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step," said Weiner, via MLB.com. "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."
In February 2012, Braun became the first MLB player to successfully appeal a violation of the league's drug policy. After reportedly testing positive for synthetic testosterone in October 2011, Braun was facing a 50-game suspension in the 2012 season. After issuing a strident denial of any wrongdoing, Braun (with the aid of his attorneys) was able to overturn the ban, citing issues with the chain of custody of his urine sample.
"I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision, Braun said in a statement issued after his successful appeal in February 2012, via Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel. "It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side."
Following his successful appeal of that suspension, Braun went as far as to imply that his sample had potentially been tampered with by the collector -- later identified as Dino Laurenzi Jr. -- before it was tested.
"There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened," Braun said at the time. "We spoke to biochemists and scientists and we asked them how difficult would it be to tamper with somebody's sample. And their response was that if they were motivated, it would be extremely easy."
Given Braun's previous statements of denial and implied deflection of blame, the reactions to this 2013 suspension and ensuing apology were not simply surprise.