NEW YORK - Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun became the first major-league player to have a positive drug test overturned on Thursday.
The reigning National League MVP was facing a 50-game suspension for a positive test that took place in early October. His hearing was held in front of a three-member special panel that first convened last month in New York.
The MLBPA released the following statement on Thursday:
"Today the Arbitration Panel announced its decision, by a 2-1 vote, to sustain Ryan Braun's grievance challenging his 50-game suspension by the Commissioner's Office.
"Under the Joint Drug Agreement, a player's successful challenge to a suspension normally would not have been made public. The parties have agreed, given the particulars of this case, that an announcement is appropriate."
Major League Baseball responded with a statement of its own:
"Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball's position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.
"As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das."
ESPN broke the news on Braun's failed test in December. The report stated that Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a urine sample taken during the playoffs. Braun quickly called for another test, but the results were also negative.
In 150 games last season, Braun batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI and 33 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star Game starter for the fourth straight season in 2011, but did not play in the contest due to a leg injury.
Braun, who signed a huge extension through 2020 in April, released a statement through MLB Network Radio on Thursday.
"I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision," Braun said.
"It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.
"We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.
"I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.
"I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.
"I'd also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.
"I'd like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.
"This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.
"Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner.
"As I said before, I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.
"Everything I've done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.
"I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title."
Milwaukee fell to the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS last year. The news could not be any better for the Brewers, who lost first baseman Prince Fielder to the Tigers this offseason.