Ryan Braun Innocent Until Proven Guilty, But New Controversy Enough to Hurt Slugger’s Image

Ryan BraunRyan Braun‘s image just suffered another hit, regardless of what ultimately comes of the new allegations against him.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Braun’s name appears on records from the South Florida clinic that allegedly supplied Alex Rodriguez and other major leaguers with performance-enhancing drugs. Braun has since issued a statement saying that his attorneys consulted with the clinic’s chief, Anthony Bosch, while preparing for a successful appeal of the outfielder’s 50-game suspension last season. Braun also said that he has nothing to hide regarding the situation, and that he has never had any other relationship with Bosch.

At this point, though, plenty of damage has already been done to Braun’s reputation, no matter what the findings of this still-developing story end up showing. The mere link to the Biogenesis clinic in the wake of last year’s situation is not only enough to reopen the conversation about Braun’s innocence — or perhaps lackthere of — as it pertains to PEDs, but it’s also enough for him to lose supporters in the court of public opinion. And that’s a court in which he didn’t have many supporters to begin with.

Braun was found to have an elevated level of testosterone last offseason, which prompted Major League Baseball to attempt to suspend him for 50 games. An individual arbitrator ruled last February, though, that Braun could not be suspended because there were chain-of-custody questions surrounding the five-time All-Star’s urine samples. The decision was immediately met with scrutiny by MLB, which considered the successful appeal to be the result of a technicality.

Braun still managed to restore his image to a certain extent this past season, even finishing second in NL MVP voting. While there will always be questions about whether Braun did win out in his appeal because of a “technicality,” the superstar at least restored some of the faith that once existed in him by putting up monster numbers even in the wake of such major allegations.

That restored faith is now a thing of the past, however. It should be noted that Braun’s statement regarding Tuesday’s report is entirely plausible. His name is reportedly on three records, but there is nothing that links him specifically to PEDs, which is a stark contrast from the players, including Rodriguez, who appeared in last week’s Miami New Times report that brought the clinic and its alleged clients to light.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It’s a simple philosophy that may not even apply to this situation, because for all we know, Braun could be telling the truth. Bosch may really have been reached out to simply as a consultant, and the note in the record about Braun owing the clinic $20,000 to $30,000 may really be in regards to a dispute over compensation for that consultation (as Braun claimed in his statement). But ignoring that there are people already completely convinced that Braun is guilty of some wrongdoing in the wake of these new allegations would require the assumption that most people have the patience necessary to see this whole thing out before passing judgment. At a time when PEDs are essentially seen as one of the worst things on the planet (or at least in sports), that’s an assumption that can no longer be made.

As of right now, nothing can prove that Braun is guilty of having received PEDs from the South Florida clinic in question, but certain details of the story seem a bit fishy. For example, an elevated level of testosterone is the same thing that Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal — three players also linked to Bosch’s clinic — have already been suspended for by Major League Baseball. Then, there are the simple facts that the clinic is located near the University of Miami, where Braun played college ball, and that one of Braun’s former teammates was also listed in last week’s Miami New Times report.

None of this proves anything, except that there are plenty of questions that remain unanswered. It would probably be best if we all waited until they’re answered before judging Braun, but it’s hard given his controversial past and the inherent skepticism that now exists in regards to athletes and PEDs.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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