Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has been suspended -- effective immediately -- for the rest of the 2013 season without pay for violating the Joint Drug Agreement, Major League Baseball announced Monday. Braun admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, though he did not give any specifics.
"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it 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."
In a statement, MLB official Rob Manfred said: “We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions. We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."
Braun, 29, has been a focal point of MLB's recent investigation into the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. Former clinic chief Anthony Bosch has been cooperating with MLB and provided the league with information about the possesion and use of performance-enhancing drugs by his clients.
Braun met with MLB's investigators recently, and during that meeting the league reportedly laid out its evidence against him. Rather than go through an appeals process, Braun's side agreed to a plea deal and the negotiated suspension. Under the JDA, first time offenders get 50-game suspensions, second-timers get 100 games, and third-timers get lifetime bans.
Following the 2011 season, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone but successfully appealed the suspension. His attorneys challenged the "chain of custody" of the sample rather than the test results themselves. MLB was said to be furious over the results and even fired the arbitrator after the hearing.
Before the suspension, Braun had hit .298/.372/.498 (135 OPS+) this season with nine home runs in 61 games while battling a nerve injury in his hand. He hit .332/.397/.597 (166 OPS+) with 33 home runs and 33 steals en route to winning the 2011 NL MVP Award, a few weeks before the positive test was revealed and appealed.
The suspension is officially 65 games and will cost Braun roughly $3.5 million in salary. He is still under contract for $117 million through 2020. Milwaukee signed him to a five-year, $105 million extension back in April 2011.
As many as 20 players tied to Biogenesis, including Alex Rodriguez, might be suspended. Braun was the first.