MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun certainly doesn't fit the image fans conjure up when they hear a baseball slugger has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Since he joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, Braun has belted big home runs not with cartoonishly large muscles, but with a sweet swing and an ultra-quick bat. Last season, he helped drive the Brewers to the playoffs and was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player.
Now Braun finds himself fighting a 50-game suspension after news leaked that he tested positive for a banned substance. He steadfastly maintains his innocence, claiming in a text to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Haudricourt: "This is all B.S. I am completely innocent."
A source familiar with the case told the New York Daily News that Braun's original test, which ESPN reported showed elevated levels of testosterone, was "insanely high — the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken."
Braun is appealing the result through arbitration, though he faces an uphill battle. A Major League Baseball source told the Journal Sentinel no player has had a positive test overturned on appeal, a fact also reported by the Daily News.
This is at odds with another source familiar with the situation, who told the Journal Sentinel on Saturday night, "It just stinks that this got out before the appeal process is finished. Initial positive tests have been overturned before, proving the player is innocent, and nobody ever knows."
Braun cannot win an appeal merely by claiming he unwittingly ingesting a banned substance, as other players have done before. Major League Baseball's drug policy states "a player cannot satisfy his burden by merely denying that he intentionally used a prohibited substance; the player must provide objective evidence in support of his denial."
The appeal is not expected to be heard until January.
Braun's lawyer, David Cornwell, told the Daily News Sunday that the positive test was not the result of taking a performance-enhancing drug.
"He did not take performance-enhancing drugs," Cornwell said, "and anyone who writes that is wrong."
ESPN cited two sources Saturday in first reporting the positive result, saying a later test by the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal determined the testosterone was synthetic.
Braun did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
"We are dealing with an incomplete set of facts and speculation," Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said in a statement. "Before there is a rush to judgment, Ryan deserves the right to be heard. We are committed to supporting Ryan to get to the truth of what happened in this unfortunate situation."