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Ryan Braun: Exonerated or well lawyered?

Ryan Braun says he’s been vindicated, thanks to an arbitrator’s decision to overturn the 50-game suspension meted out to the Milwaukee Brewers slugger for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs:

"I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision," Braun said in a statement. "It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side."

And his boss seems to agree:

"Since joining our organization in 2005, Ryan Braun has been a model citizen and a person of character and integrity," Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. "Knowing Ryan as I do, I always believed he would succeed in his appeal.

But the pundits say this isn’t Braun hitting a home run — it’s more like winning because the umpire blew a call.

  • Mike Lupica (Daily News): Understand something: The overturning of Braun’s 50-game suspension doesn’t mean Braun is clean, no matter what he says or how many times he says it or what he expects reasonable people to believe.  He wasn’t exonerated. He was acquitted. There’s a difference.
  • Tyler Kepner (New York Times): The question of innocence is more nuanced. This was a legal fight, and Braun found a way to win. Does that make him innocent of cheating? We still do not know. All we know is that protocol broke down in at least two crucial areas.
  • Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports): Make no mistake: This was a technicality. It was a loophole. Most of all, it was brilliant lawyering by Braun’s attorneys. Hundreds of tests had been handled in exactly the same manner in baseball and never before had the players’ union protested their accuracy.
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