Finally, Ryan Braun has ended his silence on his PED suspension. Well, sort of.
Braun released a lengthy written statement Thursday evening (as opposed to standing in front of the firing squad for a live press conference), admitting his use of a banned substance in 2011, the year he won the National League Most Valuable Player award and helped the Brewers get within two wins of the World Series.
The admission from Braun's statement:
During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.
Braun suffered a calf strain running out an RBI single in early July of that season, a lingering injury that caused him to miss the All-Star Game. Braun returned to action following the All-Star break and hit .346/.392/.642 in the second half (he hit .320/.402/.559 in the first half, before the injury). You know the story by now — the MVP race was tightly contested between Braun and Los Angeles' Matt Kemp, with Braun getting the nod from the BBWAA due to the Brewers winning the Central division crown.
Braun continued the hot hitting in the playoffs, scorching Arizona for 9 hits in 18 at-bats (with four doubles and a home run) in the NLDS, and going 8-for-24 in the Brewers' NLCS loss to St. Louis. Braun's positive test reportedly came near the start of that LDS series against the Diamondbacks.
In his statement, Braun attributes his vehement denials to the fact that he didn't believe he actually took a banned substance at the time (this seems like a good time to bring up the old George Costanza "It's not a lie if you believe it" line).
I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator’s decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn’t want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.
For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth.
The "come to grips with the truth" line seems key here, considering how Braun consistently said "the truth hasn't changed" as Biogenesis developments kept leaking out. Turns out he wasn't lying there — the truth hadn't changed. He just hadn't accepted it yet.
Braun also uses the statement to apologize to "everyone involved in the arbitration process," including sample collector Dino Laurenzi, Jr. He also aplogizes to his teammates for having to stick up for and answer for him despite Braun keeping everyone in the dark. It's worth noting that Braun may have done his teammates a favor by releasing the statement when he did, after the Brewers were already wheels-up in their flight to Cincinnati, giving them some extra time before having to face reporters.
He closed the statement with support for the Joint Drug Agreement, which is to be expected. After all, it worked well enough to catch him. Braun's not a dumb guy, and as someone who was always seen as media-savvy, he knows it will be awhile before he'll be given the benefit of the doubt once again.