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The shocking pharmacology of Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez was a walking, talking, high-volume experiment regarding PEDs anti-aging medications:

… documents released by the [Miami] New Times connect Rodriguez to at least 19 drugs and supplements, including the banned substances testosterone, HGH and IGF-1, and define one doping regimen that includes as many 19 injections: four subcutaneous injections of IGF-1, nine shots of CJC (a growth hormone releasing hormone) and GHRP (growth hormone releasing peptide), and six shots of HGH at 2.5 international units.

The lesson seems to be if you want a better athlete, you’d better bring better medicines. And lots of them. (And don’t forget the sterile wipes and band-aids.) Now, if they could only come up with a shot instead of having hip surgery (or hip surgeries).

It almost makes us lose sight of Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun.

Almost.

Arbitrary Arbitration

bulgeA few months ago, reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun avoided a 50-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.

The problem?

The suspension was overturned in arbitration without a legitimate reason. Braun didn’t even attempt to say he was innocent; he instead worked to cast dispersions of the process, which in his case, appeared to be air-tight.

Now the arbitrary arbitrator has been released to spend more time with his family.

There’s this saying that’s often referred to: the integrity of the game.

When the integrity of the game is fixed in favor of the player’s union, there is no integrity. And we’re left with arbitrary reasoning.

Remember, the Marty Feldman-like eyes can be an early sign of PED use.

Dumb Ryan Braun Paragraph of the Day

bulgeThere is much to agree with in the Jon Paul Morosi (yes, that appears to be his real name and is not the name of a series of hair care products) assessment at Fox Sports on the Ryan Braun debacle.

The crux of the article is that Ryan Braun should have pled his case without personalizing it, take the favorable arbitration ruling, and shut up. However there’s this one grievous error that caused me to choke on my green tea soy latte (emphasis added):

Braun made a point of closing his Friday statement by saying that he’s considering his legal options. Why would he need to do that? He won. He [sic] side was proved right by the arbitrator. Does Braun need to text Matt Kemp a photo of the MVP trophy to prove that he won it?

No Jon Paul, his side wasn’t proved right; his side received a favorable ruling. That is not the same as “proven right” or ruled “not-guilty.” There is a difference between being acquitted and “proved innocent.”

Arbitrators Unflunk Braun’s Failed PED Test

Performance enhancing drugs are out there. Rules regarding these PEDs are out there as well, to include testing and protocols for such tests. When the rules are in dispute in Major League Baseball, they are governed by a three-person arbitration team.

By a 2-1 ruling, reining NL MVP Ryan Braun’s failed PED test has been overturned, meaning he will thus avoid a 50-game suspension. What happened?

How did two tests produce results that revealed Braun had an absurdly high level of testosterone in his system? What is wrong with the testing process that something like this could happen (ESPN reports a courier is to blame)? Have other players been falsely identified as cheats?

What’s wrong with the tests? Nothing (read on). But none-the-less, the arbitrators, without explanation, have overturned Braun’s failed PED test, citing as ESPN said on television, ‘chain of command’ issues.

I think ESPN meant chain of custody issues. But we’ll never know for sure. (Begin sarcasm font) Those urine couriers and custodians have been known to introduce absurdly high testosterone levels on many an occasion. (Close sarcasm font).

A very clear explanation from Sports Illustrated (emphasis added):

According to sources with knowledge of the two-day arbitration hearing in January, at least part of Braun’s defense hinged on his sample having been collected on a Saturday afternoon — Oct. 1, after the Brewers beat the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLDS — but not in time for the doping control officer to get it to FedEx that day. The sample was not delivered to FedEx for shipping to a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Montreal until the following Monday afternoon. The Joint Drug Agreement between the league and players’ association specifies, “Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected.”

It is not uncommon for doping control officers in a wide array of sports to hold onto a sample — often in a refrigerator — if shipping is not immediately available, and while details of the chain of custody of Braun’s sample were not immediately available, a source with knowledge of the sample [someone from MLB and/or the lab?] said that the seals on the sample were unbroken when it arrived at the lab, and that standard lab tests on the sample showed that it had not degraded. In December, SI.com confirmed that Braun’s sample was found to have an elevated level of testosterone, and that it tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

A source familiar with the situation [Braun’s defense team and/or the players’ union?] said the evidence in defense of Braun highlighted several unusual circumstances: that the sample was not taken to FedEx for shipping until two days after it was collected; that his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was three times higher than any result in the history of baseball’s program; that Braun showed no physical side effects of use; and that, in the time this news was public, no one came forward to offer evidence or raise any further speculation of Braun’s alleged use.

A separate source familiar with Braun’s sample [someone from the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Montreal?] said that his elevated testosterone ratio was not unusual when compared to athletes from other sports who have failed drug tests and served suspensions.

“Around the world, on Sundays or holidays, couriers don’t pick up and they don’t deliver,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which drug tests American athletes in Olympic sports. “Some of the labs around the world are closed over the weekend, so they can’t even accept samples. And, importantly, they don’t need to because synthetic drugs don’t magically appear in urine because it took 48 hours versus 20 minutes to get to the laboratory.”

I would never expect the anti-doping agencies nor MLB to ever bring a failed PED test forward unless they had supreme confidence in their procedures, to include the chain of custody. It would appear (at this point) that Braun’s failed test was DQ’d on a technicality. (A technicality being, for example, if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit).

New Human Growth Hormone Side Effect Identified

A new side effect of human growth hormone has now been identified by medical authorities at the Calcutta Institute for Pharmaceutical Enhancement: ballooning eyeball syndrome.

bulgeIn other unrelated news, reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun continues in his battle to avoid a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s performance-enhancing drug standards.

Braun’s agent, Marty Feldman, said, “Ryan looks forward to his compete exoneration regarding these ridiculous allegations and is eagerly eying the upcoming 2012 season, which he views may well be his best ever.” As far as Braun’s protestation of innocence, Feldman added, “We and MLB aren’t really seeing eye-to-eye on this, but hopefully well have a shared vision very soon. Remember, there’s no ‘i’ in team, but there is one in ‘win’.”

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