Legal Consequences of Ryan Braun’s Suspension
The MLB’s recent 65-game suspension of Ryan Braun has several important legal repercussions for both the league and the players involved in the Biogenesis scandal. Although Braun will most likely avoid any criminal charges regarding the purchase of performance-enhancing drugs, it is important to note that the distribution, sale and use of illegal performance-enhancing substances is against federal drug trafficking and distribution laws. In order to prevent such charges Braun will most likely refuse to answer questions about his statement of admission until after the statute of limitations passes.
Braun also faces the possibility of a defamation lawsuit from Dino Laurenzi Jr., the collector of his positive drug test in 2012, whom he publicly attacked after the test. Braun stated that the testing process “broke down,” and that after the fact he “learned a lot of things” about his collector. Despite Braun’s claims, evidence suggest that Laurenzi was following proper protocol throughout the test. While Laurenzi may have some ground for a lawsuit, filing one would likely fail, as Braun never directly mentioned Laurenzi by name nor did he specify the “things” that he claimed to have learned about him.
Another important question concerns the Brewers’ ability to void Braun’s contract in light of his recent suspension and potentially contract-breaching actions. According to his contract, Braun is entitled to $133 million over the next eight years as dictated by his 2011 extension. Although he has been one of the best players in the league, the question of how much he benefited from performance-enhancing drugs remains. The Uniform Player contract permits termination in the event a player “fails, refuses or neglects to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship,” which could easily be proven by his admission. The primary obstacle that the Brewers face is the historic difficulty that teams have had trying to void contracts, sometimes with even more serious offenses. As a result, they may decide to simply buy Braun out of his contract to save money rather than to void it altogether.
Lastly, Braun’s actions may have important implications for other players connected with the Biogenesis scandal, notably Alex Rodriguez. Biogenesis director Tony Bosch has recently started cooperating with the MLB’s attorneys; however, his credibility may be harmed due to the league’s portrayal of him as a drug dealer in their lawsuit against the company. Additionally, many argue that although Braun accepted his suspension without challenge, doing so does not create a precedent for the other players involved.
Although it has not stopped speculation, much remains to be interpreted by independent arbiters before penalties can be determined for related cases.
Kevin Rizzo (@kevinrizzo10) is editor of Crime in America. An Ohio Native, the George Washington University senior was a founding member of Law Street. Contact Kevin at krizzo@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Steve Paluch via Wikimedia Commons]