Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Minutiæ

When dealing with a serious story like the Ryan Braun drug test, it's important to keep things in perspective and not blow things out of proportion.

Since the news broke that Braun won his appeal and won't be suspended for 50 games, the main contention against Braun has been that he still tested positive but escaped consequences due to a technicality.  Proponents of this contention say that the forty-four hour delay in submission doesn't alter the integrity of the testing process, and therefore Braun is dirty--which among other things means his 2011 NL MVP award is dirty. 

That knee-jerk reaction has one enormous assumption--that the forty-four hour delay had no effect whatsoever on the results of the tests.  I'm not sure that average baseball fans know enough about chemistry/toxicology to safely rely on such a critical assumption.  Personally, I do know that urine is a waste product of the body, and therefore much different than blood when it comes to toxicology tests.  One thing I don't know is the rate at which epitestosterone breaks down in a urine sample.  That seems to be an important factor in the science of steroid testing, no?

Since we are talking about scientific processes here, let's keep in mind that reproducibility is one of the main principles of the scientific method.  If the extended delay really did alter the result of Braun's test, it would be scientifically reproducible.  Right? 

From WEEI.

Braun's appellate team did exactly that.  They proved that the delay in testing caused an error which generated a false positive--and they were able to show that the error was repeatable.

Ryan Braun did not test postive.  A tainted sample tested positive.

Ryan Braun did not avoid suspension because of a technicality.  Ryan Braun is clean.

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