By Mike Axisa
Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of the 2013 season without pay, effective immediately, MLB has announced. He admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and violating the Joint Drug Agreement, though he did not give any specifics. The suspension is officially 65 games.
"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," said Braun in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."
"We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions," said Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Economics & League Affairs for Major League Baseball. "We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."
Braun, 29, has been a focal point of MLB's recent investigation into the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. He tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone late in 2011 but successfully appealed the suspension. As many as 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez, may be suspended for their ties to the clinic.
Braun met with MLB's investigators recently, and during that meeting the league reportedly laid out all of the evidence they have acquire. Rather than go through an appeals process, Braun's side agreed to a plea deal and the negotiated suspension. Under the JDA, first time offenders get 50-game suspensions, second-timers get 100 games, and third-timers get lifetime bans.
The suspension will cost Braun roughly $3.5 million in salary. He is still under contract for $117 million through 2020.