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Guilty Until Proven Innocent is not How We Do It Here in America [Opinion]

Norm Hall - Getty Images Sport

First, a disclaimer, I am a proud Milwaukee Brewers fan and have been my whole life. To put it simply, on this issue, I am completely biased. I’ll admit it right up front.

Not all justice systems around the world work like ours does here in America. Here, someone is considered innocent until proven guilty. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Here’s how the story started, in October, while the Brewers were in the thick of the National League Playoffs, leftfielder Ryan Braun provided a routine urine sample to test for performance enhancing drugs, a process that Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Union agreed to in 2005.

Braun’s sample allegedly tested positive.

Here’s where the situation gets a little sketchy. The testing process is supposed to be completely confidential. If a player’s sample tests positive, he has the right to appeal and go to a hearing with a three person arbitration panel. If the player loses his appeal, he is suspended for 50 games. This would be where the confidentiality ends, obviously a suspension of that degree is hard to keep under wraps. But, theoretically, if the player wins the appeal and no suspension is handed down, the only people who would ever know about the testing process would be the player himself and Major League Baseball.

But somebody leaked the fact that Ryan Braun’s sample tested positive before he even had a chance to appeal the result. At that point, the headlines broke and all people saw was “Ryan Braun tests positive for PED“. Pretty damning, don’t you think?

For months, that’s all we, the public, knew. That he tested positive. He had his day in court, so to say, in December when he and his representatives presented their case to the appeal panel. But still, there was no information given out publicly.

Well, it turns out that the panel found that there was evidence compelling enough to clear Braun. He will not be suspended, he will not have a drug related suspension on his record.

But, for the past couple months, he was labeled as a “cheater”, and that label will probably follow him in some people’s eyes for the rest of his career, regardless of the outcome.

The problem is that someone broke the rules. As I just wrote about yesterday, someone decided that it was a great “scoop” to be able to say that the National League MVP tested positive for steroids. Hopefully, at some point in the investigative process the leak will be uncovered and the person responsible will be held accountable. In a press conference today, Braun alluded to exploring legal options.

In this country we’re supposed to be considered innocent until we’ve had our day in court. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

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