Friday, February 24, 2012

RYAN BRAUN, PART ONE: CHAIN OF CUSTODY IS NEVER A "TECHNICALITY"

The leak started yesterday morning but the word is out now. Ryan Braun's first offender suspension for a violation of the league's prohibited substance policy has been voided by the neutral arbitrator.

Apparently there will be a written decision later and it may or may not be available to the public. The bottom line is that the sample containers were not taken to distribution points during the same business day or even during the next calendar day.

This is important for at least two reasons. First, it is only when the samples are taken to a common carrier that they are anonymized. The leased witness/Courier and the player are the only two people who know the identity of the donor. There is a high positive value in any scientific undertaking in eliminating history information as quickly as possible. The second problem is the more obvious one, the longer the samples linger in an uncontrolled environment a more there can be questions about the integrity of those samples.

For purposes of an arbitration, the arbitrator wants to admit evidence that has been authenticated. The parties have essentially agreed the sample is authenticated by the transfer numbers matching and the delivery having been made on the same business day. Failing that, it is difficult to criticize the arbitrator for either not admitting the samples at all or finding that their probative value is so limited as to not support the discipline.

So far, none of this is particularly interesting. What is quite interesting is Maj. league baseball's response to the arbitrator's ruling. Immediately Maj. league baseball and its representatives managed to pollute the airwaves with claims that Braun got out of the suspension on a "technicality." Some very fine sports broadcasters have repeated this, is if "technicality" were an established fact as opposed to a very preliminary and incendiary opinion coming from MLB. Two disappointing examples were Dan Roan and Colin Cowherd. I was shocked to hear both of them repeat the party line.

As we will discuss more in part two, it is a little cheeky to agree to a handling procedure, comprehensively fail to live up to your agreement and then say that your failure to keep your promise under the agreement is a "technicality."

All this of course leaves aside the discussion of who leaked the test result in the first place. All of this played out publicly precisely because somebody who knew better leaked it.

2 Comments:

At 9:01 PM, April 03, 2012, Anonymous Polkadot76 said...

I don't understand the point. The fact remains that Braun's sample tested positive and it is uncontroverted that they arrived (albeit late) for testing with the seals intact. I am much more offended by Braun standing in front of a microphone, beating his chest, proclaiming his innocence, than I am the
perceived "mishandling" of the evidence by MLB.

 
At 10:36 AM, April 24, 2012, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Polka,

This is a matter of contract. The parties bind themselves to a procedure. Positive, not positive, sealed, not sealed, no matter. The right to suspend is predicated on the agreed upon procedures.

TYFCB

 

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