David Kaufman

Ryan Braun – Tainted Appeal?

Ryan Braun is one of baseball’s more exciting players and one of few Jewish sports heroes. Today, his 50 game suspension for violating the drug policy of Major League Baseball was overturned by arbitrator Shyam DasI can only imagine that the Milwaukee Brewers are breathing a huge sigh of relief and fans are happy.

Rejoice! Our hero is innocent!

But why was his suspension overturned? The argument brought forth by Braun’s side, according to ESPN, was not that there was tampering with the specimen, nor that anything related to the test itself was faulty. Instead Braun’s legal team argued that the letter of law for the chain of custody of the procedure had been violated.

Braun’s legal team noted that after the sample had been collected, it was not taken directly to Fedex Kinkos because the collector thought that the business was closed at the time. It was late in the evening. The sample was stored overnight in a refrigerator at his home and delivered the next morning, something that was done in other cases as well. The sole violation here was that the sample was stored in a refrigerator overnight in the home of the person overseeing the testing rather than having it sent out that night. Jason Stark of ESPN joked that:

Hopefully, it wasn’t then contaminated by ketchup or a loose pizza topping.

There is no supposition that the individual in question tampered in any way with the sample during the time it was in his custody. Thus, it seems to be fairly clear that the evidence still overwhelmingly supports the argument that Ryan Braun violated the rules and used steroids.

Why vacate the suspension?

In the OJ Simpson trial there was abundant evidence of his guilt including DNA evidence, but the glove, shrunken because it had been soaked in blood, frozen and refrozen, did not fit when OJ was asked to try it on. His lawyer famously stated, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” I guess the arbitrator in the Ryan Braun case decided:

If the pee ain’t Fedexed, forget the rest!

About the Author
Rabbi David Kaufman is the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, Iowa, a congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. He is also the President and Co-Founder of We Are For Israel, the home of "Centrist Advocates for Realistic Peace" and created the news site about the crisis in the Nuba Mountains, Rabbi Kaufman maintains an informational blog on which he posts sermons and other materials related to Jewish practice and belief at