The wait is over. Ryan Braun has spoken. Sort of. Eighteen months after he went on the attack during his infamous spring training press conference, and a month after he received a 65-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, Braun issued a statement Thursday admitting that he took performance-enhancing drugs.
There were no tears. There was no Oprah confessional. There were no surprises. There was only a lengthy statement -- nearly 1,000 words! -- that began: “Now that the initial investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself.”
What did we learn? Not much -- the apology was mostly boilerplate. The Brewers outfielder explained that he took an unspecified cream and lozenge during his 2011 MVP season in attempts to accelerate his recovery from injuries. This was, according to Braun, a slip in judgement, an isolated incident in a seven-year major league career. He apologized to “those who put their necks out for me [who] have been embarrassed by my behavior.” He apologized to commissioner Bud Selig, to executive vice president Rob Manfred, to MLBPA chief Michael Weiner and to test collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. Of his teammates, he said, “One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.”
This was the necessary and inevitable first step for Braun, but the All-Star outfielder still faces a long, treacherous road ahead. When he comes back next spring and returns to his team with the $117-million contract still owed to him, there will be a spring training media circus waiting. There will also be ballpark boos, Brewers fans and teammates to win over and more demands for him to go further in explaining himself. There will also still be the defamation lawsuit filed by a former friend alleging that Braun was using PEDs in college at Miami, that he violated NCAA rules by taking cash payments and that he cheated on his fiancée. There are so many questions for Braun to answer, particularly regarding Laurenzi, the man who collected the urine sample from Braun that tested positive for a synthetic testosterone in 2011. In his statement, Braun didn’t address reports of a smear campaign against Laurenzi -- Braun reportedly told other players that Laurenzi was an anti-Semite who rooted for the rival Cubs -- saying only, “I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr.”
America forgives easily — in most cases, a disgraced athlete offers the big apology, and everyone moves on. But this case is different. In this case Braun has dug himself into a hole that’s just too deep.
The text of Braun's full statement is below:
"Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.
I have disappointed the people closest to me - the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.
It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents, and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am for that.
Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.
I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self-righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.
For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of - and the punishment for - my actions.
I requested a second meeting with Baseball to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected - my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.
I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.
I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.