Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and National League MVP Ryan Braun had his 50-game suspension for illegal drug use lifted Thursday, the first time a player has succeeded in challenging a drug-related penalty in a grievance.
Braun failed a drug test back in October, while he was leading the Brewers to the NL Championship Series with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs.
The initial test showed evidence of a 20:1 Testosterone/Epitestosterone ratio, while a normal T/E ratio is about 1:1. Sources have also confirmed to ESPN that the sample contained synthetic testosterone.
During the hearing, Braun's representatives did not dispute the results of the tests directly in the hearing, but instead argued that proper protocol had not been followed in order to maintain the integrity of the sample.
According to MLB policy, a collected sample has to be sent out "as soon as possible."
In Braun's case, however, the collector believed that he would not be able to reach a FedEx office before it closed, so he kept the sample in his basement in Wisconsin.
Braun's representatives argued that since there was a difference in the pH balance from when it was collected and when it arrived in the Montreal testing facility, the sample may have been compromised.
The director of the Montreal Olympic doping lab, Christiane Ayotte, testified that the difference in pH was not unusual because of the different testing equipment used in the field and the lab. She also said that the sample arrived with all seals intact.
Sources have told The Associated Press that immediately upon hearing of the violation, Braun requested a second test. That sample was found to have normal testosterone levels.
According to ESPN, the MLB is outraged at the decision and will consider trying to have it overturned in federal court. Their lawyers will wait until a written report on the issue is finalized next week to decide whether or not they will sue.
The decision to lift Braun's suspension was made by a 2-1 vote, with the deciding vote cast by independent arbitrator Shyam Das.