The other shoe finally dropped for Ryan Bruan, and the Milwaukee Brewers slugger and former National League MVP is done for the year after admitting to making "mistakes" concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Under the provisions of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program — and presumably some kind of plea deal negotiated by the commissioner's office and Bruan's representatives — the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player will sit out the final 65 games of this season without pay, costing him just under $4 million.
There have been rumors surrounding Braun for months, especially as concerns Biogenesis, the sketchy, PED-peddling South Florida laboratory that purportedly held nearly two dozen past and present players as clients, including people like Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and others. Furthermore, Braun successfully appealed a 50-game suspension in early 2011 by raising doubts about how an independent collector handled his test sample.
Now, the subterfuge has finally come to an end, as Braun has, for the first time, publicly admitted some kind of impropriety. Here's his statement in full:
As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed - all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.
What does this all mean, for now and going forward?
• While MLB initially took a media hit for appearing like it was going to rely on the less-than-reputable word of Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch in an attempt to suspend PED-using players, they clearly had the goods on Braun. Relying on the word of a Tony Bosch is one thing, but there's no way that alone could procure an admission from Braun.
• With Braun confirming one huge element of previous media reports about Biogenesis — that Ryan Braun was a client — every single other person named in these reports has got to be terrified and/or on the phone with their union rep right now. A-Rod seems like he's in especially big trouble.
• Dino Laurenzi Jr., Braun's urine sample collector from the first-go-around, who Braun accused of malfeasance? He has a bone to pick with Braun now too, though whether it would rise to the level of a potential lawsuit will have to be addressed by those with more legal training than the zero we have. Here's Braun's quote about Laurenzi: "There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened."
• As shocking as this admission may be — from a legit superstar still at the top of his sport — we're still waiting for the player that cops to using PEDs but argues for transparent discussion and research thereof with an eye toward finding out how harmful performance-enhancers actually are, how often they're actually used, and whether or not they should all be prohibited and demonized. For now, the status quo remains: (some) players take PEDs, deny vehemently that they do so, and when finally caught adhere to the party line that any use is unconscionable cheating.
The fallout from this late-afternoon disclosure has only started to settle, but it's clear now, if nothing else, that MLB's never-ending drug problem is still far from finished. Nothing about the Braun or Biogenesis stories suggest any interruption to baseball's now-perpetual cycle of PED silence followed by PED scandal, and the end is nowhere in sight.