OK, I caught some of the press conference, the ESPN reporting with the Mike and Mike video, and Friday's Margarita. (Really, if we ever have a Best of BCB, that thread belongs there. Great stuff.)
So I understand the premise behind the actual ruling: a violation in chain of custody procedures would be based on a premise of tampering, that MLB could not prove that the sample with such high readings was unadulterated Ryan Braun pee. Which is all true, and not to be taken lightly -- that alone should be sufficient to overturn the ban.
What I'm less clear about is the premise behind Ryan's innocence. It doesn't seem likely that an unrefrigerated sample, when left to its own devices on a desk somewhere, would show such elevated reading of testosterone. So Ryan's claim of innocence would, I think, mean one of two things: that the sample was doped with testosterone, or outright replaced (either accidentally or intentionally).
I usually assume negligence before malice, and I think that's the line of reasoning behind Ryan's offer of a DNA test, which MLB had refused: that the sample the MLB tested wasn't in fact his. This is where I start getting lost:
- If it were negligence, or something as simple as misplaced paperwork accompanying the sample, where did we get the ridiculous readings from?
- If it were tampered, wouldn't that mean breaking some sort of seal, which would certainly invalidate the sample? (Can you taint a sample without opening it?)
- Or, maybe it's possible to take a doped, non-Ryan sample and change the labels on it to make it looks like his.
I guess, I'm wondering if it's possible to get such elevated readings without tampering. If not, then does Ryan's presumption of innocence rely on a narrative of someone actively tampering with his sample to make him appear guilty? (Note: I'm not doubting his innocence here -- he's had so many tests over the years, all of which had been clean, that to have one test with such out-of-this-world readings makes me immediately think a bad test, by mistake or malice. I'm just curious if this was the result of oversight or negligence, or if he's being framed.)