Guilty or not, Braun’s integrity is forever in doubt

Story by Andy Hildebrand, Sports Editor

This is absolutely my nightmare. I keep expecting to wake up, tangled up in my sheets, gasping for air in a frightened, sweaty heap. I’m not waking up anytime soon though, and neither is Milwaukee Brewers’ left fielder Ryan Braun. This nightmare is real.

For the second year in a row, baseball’s offseason has been rocked by scandal swirling around the use of performance enhancing drugs. For the second year in a row, Braun is at the center of it all.

When I’m seeing Braun’s face on Sportscenter and it’s only early February, I become physically sick to my stomach. It means something other than a case of the yips is plaguing the Brewers’ slugger. It means the former MVP is once again facing a possible 50 game suspension.

The original story broke last week when The Miami New Times reported they had obtained documents from a local and recently closed clinic called Biogenesis. Wouldn’t you know it, these documents claimed that a number of Major League Baseball players were purchasing illegal PEDs from the clinic.

My heart sank after reading the report. Braun’s name didn’t initially appear, but I knew that it would eventually come up. The timelines matched up too perfectly. Braun got away with his positive test last year due to a technicality. Somehow, I don’t think he’s going to be so lucky this time.

Braun isn’t without hope though, even if it is the tiniest thread imaginable. Braun’s name was listed on the reports, but unlike some of the other names, he wasn’t paired with any specific drug. He only appeared on the accounts due section. Next to Braun’s name was the dollar amount $20-30 thousand.

The guy who ran the clinic, Tony Bosch, is an especially intriguing cog in the story. Aside from providing illegal PEDs to professional baseball players, the guy isn’t even a licensed physician. His official title is “biochemist.”

Oh by the way, this clinic of his? Biogenesis of America? It was supposedly an anti-aging clinic. Yep.

Here’s the strangest thing about Bosch. He didn’t keep the records for this “business” on a computer like any kind of a normal person. He apparently didn’t even type them and store them in a file cabinet. All of the records we’ve seen so far have been hand-written chicken scratching that look like they’re written on spiral notebook paper.

Braun’s camp released a statement late Tuesday night claiming the reason he was showing up on Bosch’s documents is because his legal team used him as a consultant during his successful appeal one year ago. That’s apparently why Braun owes Bosch somewhere between $20 and $30 thousand.

I’ve got a huge problem with that. Why on earth would Braun’s legal team want him anywhere near a man with Bosch’s reputation? Why would they ever want to owe anyone like that money? He’s not even a doctor. He’s a drug dealer.

Something isn’t adding up here, and I’m afraid it’s going to end with a 50 game suspension.

Maybe he’s innocent and maybe he’s guilty. There’s a lot more that’s going to come out about this story, Braun’s involvement with the Miami-based anti-aging clinic and its drug peddling owner Tony Bosch. There’s already been a significant casualty in the process though: credibility.

Alex Rodriguez is on the list, along with a number of other players. That means if these documents are legitimate, he’s been playing dirty in a time when the MLB is adamant that they’ve cleaned up the game. Don’t tell me he hasn’t been tested. That’s not even in the realm of possibility. He’s taking the test with elevated testosterone and passing it. This is the worst case scenario.

Does that mean Braun is guilty? Not at all. What it does mean is even if Braun is found innocent and beats these suspicions for the second time in as many years, no one will really believe he’s clean.

It’s a sport obsessed with chasing perfection. It’s more consumed by statistics than any other sport on the planet. Long gone legends like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle are still household names because in baseball, the greats are never forgotten.

Where will people like Ryan Braun end up when all is said and done? Whether he’s innocent or guilty, doubt will forever persist. In a game defined by its history books, there’s no place for doubt.