By RONALD BLUM, Associated Press
In question-and-answer form, this is a look at the issues and implications of Major League Baseball's suspension of Ryan Braun:
Q: WHY WAS RYAN BRAUN SUSPENDED?
A: Braun was suspended following MLB's investigation of Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused in Miami New Times and other media of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs. Under the agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, no specifics of the conduct causing the suspension were announced other than it was "for violations of the basic agreement and its joint drug prevention and treatment program."
Q: WHY WAS THE SUSPENSION 65 GAMES?
A: The suspension for the rest of Milwaukee's season resulted from an agreement between MLB and the union, eliminating the possibility of Braun asking the players' association to file a grievance on his behalf challenging any punishment. A person familiar with the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized, said 50 games of the penalty were connected to Biogenesis. The additional 15 games stemmed from Braun's actions during the grievance that overturned his positive test for testosterone from October 2011.
Q: WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF BRAUN HAD NOT AGREED TO THE SUSPENSION?
A: MLB likely would have suspended him for a lengthier period, and Braun would have asked the union to file a grievance that would have been decided by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, likely after the season. When MLB attempted to suspend Braun for 50 games following the positive test two years ago, the discipline was overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das after Braun's lawyers claimed his urine sample was not handled properly.
Q: WHAT DOES THIS COST BRAUN?
A: It would appear a little more than $3 million. Braun is making $8.5 million, and baseball's drug agreement says the number of days of lost pay "shall equal the number of games (excluding postseason games) for which he is suspended." That would mean Braun will lose 65/183rds of his salary, which comes to $3,019,126. He is signed to Milwaukee through 2020, and his salary increases to $10 million next year — meaning a 65-game suspension in 2014 would have cost him $3,551,913.
Q: DOES BRAUN KEEP HIS 2011 NL MVP AWARD?
A: Yes. The Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Braun the winner ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp. "The decision was already made. He won it," Jack O'Connell, the BBWAA's secretary-treasurer, said in an email Monday.
Q: ARE THERE MORE PLAYERS AT RISK OF SUSPENSIONS?
A: More than a dozen players have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis, among them Braun, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli; Texas' Nelson Cruz; Detroit's Jhonny Peralta; Oakland's Bartolo Colon; San Diego's Everth Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal; Toronto's Melky Cabrera; and Seattle's Jesus Montero.
Q: WILL ADDITIONAL PLAYERS ACCEPT SUSPENSIONS OR CONTEST THEM?
A: Remains to be seen. The union expects MLB will approach it with contemplated penalties for players and the evidence MLB feels backs up the discipline. Each player will then decide whether to accept the discipline, contest it or try to reach a negotiated agreement similar to the manner in which Braun did.
Q: HOW LONG WILL THE PROCESS TAKE?
A: With Braun having accepted a suspension, MLB is expected to move on to other players. Absent an agreement, the union says it will ask that a suspension not be announced until the arbitrator makes a decision on the grievance, but management may ask that suspensions be announced before grievances. If the sides can't agree, Horowitz will decide.
Q: WHAT IS A-ROD'S STATUS?
A: He remains on the New York Yankees' disabled list. Following hip surgery in January, he hit .200 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 games during a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment. He injured a quadriceps last weekend, and it isn't clear whether MLB will attempt to suspend him before he can come off the DL. With MLB's highest salary at $28 million, A-Rod stands to lose the most of any player. His salary declines to $25 million next year.
Q: HAS BASEBALL'S DRUG AGREEMENT CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
A: MLB and the union reached a joint drug agreement in 2002 that has gradually been toughened. Survey urine testing in 2003 led to testing with penalties in 2004. The sides agreed to 10-day suspensions for first offenders in 2005 and instituted 50-game penalties for initial offenses for the 2006 season, the same year many stimulants were banned. Blood testing for human growth hormone began in 2012. MLB and some players have asked that penalties be increased starting in 2014.
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