The Ryan Braun decision was a “miscarriage of anti-doping justice,” an official from the nation’s leading independent drug testing organization told CBSSports.com on Friday.
Chris Guinty, a vice president for the National Center for Drug-Free Sport in Kansas City, Mo., aggressively defended the protocol in handling what had been labeled a positive test for the Milwaukee Brewers’ star. He told CBSSports.com that it was “standard industry practice” for Braun’s sample to be held overnight.
Drug-Free Sport handles testing for the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the minor leagues.
A three-man arbitration board decided to grant Braun an appeal to his 50-game suspension for reportedly testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Braun is believed to be the first Major League player to win such an appeal. In a press conference on Friday, he maintained that his sample was invalid after it kept by the collector for two days instead of being immediately shipped to MLB’s testing lab in Montreal.
Braun went to say the process was “fatally flawed” and suggested the sample may have been tampered with.
“I stop short of condemning anybody,” Guinty said. “[But] I believe in the chain of custody. I don’t believe any standard industry protocol was violated here.”
In the anti-doping world, the reaction was the opposite. The World Anti-Doping Agency said the protocol breach that saved Braun would have been within its rules. The chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, called the verdict in Braun’s favor "a real gut-kick to clean athletes." Major League Baseball released a statement defending the process.
“We have a very similar reaction to baseball,” Guinty said. “In our industry, it was standard industry practice to conduct the collection service like this collector did and take the sample home. The fact that nobody focused on the fact there is an unaccountable positive result … is a slap in the face to all the clean athletes who play the sport.”
Braun told reporters the test in question showed three times more testosterone than had been recorded in any other player. The reigning National League MVP went into detail Friday saying there was a 44-hour gap between the collection and the shipping. He went on to tell reporters that there was five FedEx locations open until 9 p.m. within five miles of Milwaukee’s Miller Field where he was tested Oct. 1. He said there was an additional FedEx store that was open 24 hours.
Guinty said that if the MLB collector had missed a FedEx shipping deadline, it is still better for that collector to hold the sample overnight.
“It is much more safer in the handler’s hands [in that situation] than at a FedEx where you don’t know what happened to the sample,” he said.
Sports medicine consultant Rod Walters also weighed in. Walters was head trainer at South Carolina for 17 years and has 28 years experience in the field.
“If it was overnight…is the specimen any weaker?” he said when contacted by CBSSports.com. ‘When you go longer than a year [the sample] may denigrate, it may lose some of its [strength].”
Drug-Free Sport has approximately 300 college clients, all but a fraction of those are NCAA schools. It claims more than 80 years of drug-testing experience on its staff.