New York — National League MVP Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned Thursday by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das, the first time a baseball player successfully challenged a drug-related penalty in a grievance.
The decision was announced Thursday by the Major League Baseball Players Association, one day before the 28-year-old outfielder was due to report to spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Braun’s urine tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, and ESPN revealed the positive test in December.
Braun has insisted that he did not violate baseball’s drug agreement.
“I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision,” he 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.”
MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management “vehemently disagrees” with Das’ decision.
Das, who has been baseball’s independent arbitrator since 2000, informed the sides of his decision, but did not give them a written opinion. He has 30 days to do so.
“Today the arbitration panel announced its decision, by a 2-1 vote, to sustain Ryan Braun’s grievance challenging his 50-game suspension by the commissioner’s office,” a statement from the players’ association said.
Manfred and union head Michael Weiner are part of the arbitration panel, and management and the union almost always split their votes, leaving Das, the independent panel member, to make the decision.
A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that, after being informed of the positive result, Braun asked to have another urine test taken, and that the second test was within normal range.
Braun hit .312 with 33 homers and 111 RBIs last year and led Milwaukee to the NL championship series, where the Brewers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.