Ryan Braun finally said it: He took performance-enhancing drugs.
A month after suddenly abandoning his claims of innocence and accepting a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers slugger admitted he took a cream and a lozenge containing banned substances while rehabilitating an injury during his 2011 NL MVP season.
In a statement released by the Brewers on Thursday night, Braun took responsibility for his actions. He also apologized to many people, including the sample collector he castigated after an arbitrator overturned the outfielder’s suspension from a 2011 positive test.
“I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards,” Braun said. “I have disappointed the people closest to me.”
Still, his lengthy act of self-reproach was missing several key details. Among them: The five-time All-Star doesn’t say who gave him the PEDs or where they came from; he doesn’t reveal the banned substance in the products; he doesn’t say if he knew the cream and lozenge were tainted at the time he took them.
For now, the apology will have to do.
“To me, it doesn’t really matter what they say. Let’s lay down the penalties and move on,” San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
On July 22, Braun agreed to a suspension resulting from Major League Baseball’s investigation of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of providing banned substances to players.
At that time he acknowledged only that he made “mistakes,” leaving people, including Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, wanting more.
He laid out his story Thursday: “Here is what happened,” the statement says.
Still tied to Milwaukee for at least seven more years and $117 million, Braun also sent a separate letter of apology to Brewers fans.
Braun was the first of 14 players disciplined this year as a result of the Biogenesis probe. Twelve accepted 50-game penalties, including a trio of All-Stars: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game penalty, assessed for violations of the drug program and labor contract.
In his initial meeting with MLB investigators to discuss Biogenesis, Braun declined to answer questions. But in the statement, he said he initiated a second session with MLB during which he admitted his guilt and began discussing a penalty.
“After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth,” Braun said. “I was never presented with baseball’s evidence against me, but I didn’t need to be, because I knew what I had done.”
Braun’s urine tested positive for elevated testosterone from a sample collected on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, after Milwaukee’s NL division series opener against Arizona. The drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., stored the samples from Braun and two other players at home and dropped them off at a Federal Express office on Monday, rather than send them immediately, as specified in baseball’s drug collection rules.
The players’ association argued that the specimen was handled improperly, and arbitrator Shyam Das overturned the discipline on Feb. 23 last year.
During a news conference the following day on the field at Milwaukee’s spring training stadium in Phoenix, Braun proclaimed he had been vindicated and questioned Laurenzi’s methods. A week later Braun’s lawyer criticized Laurenzi when the collector defended himself.
“I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards,” Braun said. “I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.”
After he accepted his suspension — 50 games for the drug infraction and 15 games for his conduct at the time of the grievance — Braun was heavily criticized by players around the major leagues.
“I thought this whole thing has been despicable on his part,” Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said then. “When he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector when he was caught red-handed. So that’s why the whole Braun situation, there is so much player outrage toward him.”
Braun hopes this is a step in the right direction.
“I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people’s trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers’ organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB,” Braun said. “I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.