Last November, Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player. A few weeks later, ESPN reported he’d failed a drug test during the playoffs. Not surprisingly, the news shocked and saddened baseball experts and fans alike. Many wondered whether his MVP trophy should be stripped, and others wondered how his mandatory fifty game suspension would affect his team’s chances at winning the Central.
Braun came out and denied the news immediately but also made it clear he would hire a lawyer for the appeal MLB’s collective bargaining agreement allows. Last week, he formally won that appeal on a vote of two-to-one, reportedly by claiming his sample was improperly handled because it wasn’t dropped off at FedEx immediately. In a press conference last week, he ripped the entire process, pointed the finger at possible tampering and declared his innocence. The forceful words won many fans and even some critics over, but they also pissed a whole lot of people off.
Among that long list of jilted viewers was Dino Laurenzi Jr. He was the man who collected Braun’s sample, and he disagreed with just about everything that was said. In response, he decided to write a step-by-step account of exactly what he did. His take was released earlier today by his lawyer, and it serves as a pretty damning rebuttal to Braun’s finger-pointing. Because it’s so informative, I’ve decided to publish the entire thing below. Have a look…
On February 24th, Ryan Braun stated during his press conference that "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." Shortly thereafter, someone who had intimate knowledge of the facts of this case released my name to the media. I am issuing this statement to set the record straight.
I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and have received Master Degrees from the University of North Carolina and Loyola University of Chicago. My full-time job is the director of rehabilitation services at a health care facility. In the past, I have worked as a teacher and an athletic trainer, including performing volunteer work with Olympic athletes. I am a member of both the National Athletic Trainers' Association and the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers' Association.
I have been a drug collector for Comprehensive Drug Testing since 2005 and have been performing collections for Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program since that time. I have performed over 600 collections for MLB and also have performed collections for other professional sports leagues. I have performed post-season collections for MLB in four separate seasons involving five different clubs.
On October 1, 2011, I collected samples from Mr. Braun and two other players. The CDT collection team for that day, in addition to me, included three chaperones and a CDT coordinator. One of the chaperones was my son, Anthony. Chaperones do not have any role in the actual collection process, but rather escort the player to the collection area.
I followed the same procedure in collecting Mr. Braun's sample as I did in the hundreds of other samples I collected under the Program. I sealed the bottles containing Mr. Braun's A and B samples with specially-numbered, tamper-resistant seals, and Mr. Braun signed a form certifying, among other things, that the specimens were capped and sealed in his presence and that the specimen identification numbers on the top of the form matched those on the seals.
I placed the two bottles containing Mr. Braun's samples in a plastic bag and sealed the bag. I then placed the sealed bag in a standard cardboard Specimen Box which I also sealed with a tamper-resistant, correspondingly-numbered seal placed over the box opening. I then placed Mr. Braun's Specimen Box, and the Specimen Boxes containing the samples of the two other players, in a Federal Express Clinic Pack. None of the sealed Specimen Boxes identified the players. I completed my collections at Miller Park at approximately 5:00 p.m. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections, there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday.
Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, CDT has instructed collectors since I began in 2005 that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office. The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident.
The FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun's samples never left my custody. Consistent with CDT's instructions, I brought the FedEx Clinic Pack containing the samples to my home. Immediately upon arriving home, I placed the FedEx Clinic Pack in a Rubbermaid container in my office which is located in my basement. My basement office is sufficiently cool to store urine samples. No one other than my wife was in my home during the period in which the samples were stored. The sealed Specimen Boxes were not removed from the FedEx Clinic Pack during the entire period in which they were in my home. On Monday, October 3, I delivered the FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun's Specimen Box to a FedEx office for delivery to the laboratory on Tuesday, October 4. At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples. It is my understanding that the samples were received at the laboratory with all tamper-resistant seals intact.
This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated. Neither I nor members of my family will make any further public comments on this matter. I request that members of the media, and baseball fans, whatever their views on this matter, respect our privacy. And I would like to sincerely thank my family and friends for their overwhelming support through this difficult time. Any future inquiries should be directed to my attorney Boyd Johnson of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.
People are going to believe whatever they want. Ryan Braun always seemed like one of the good guys to many baseball fans; so, there’s an inherent urge to believe him. Beyond that, there’s also a hope that baseball has really cleaned up its act. I don’t know anyone that would rather believe steroids are still a problem. Unfortunately, the above statement is well-written and convincing. If it was in play during the appeal I’m not sure Braun would still have convinced two judges, but what is done is done. We’re no longer in the sentencing phase, we’re in a battle over public perception. Go ahead and give this round to Dino Laurenzi Jr.