Last month, Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star who was the 2011 National League MVP, was hit with a 65-game suspension that ended his season for his use of banned substances provided by a Miami clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players. This was after he had appealed a 50-game suspension last year that was overturned by an arbitrator because of a technicality related to the way his test samples were handled.
After winning the appeal to get the first suspension overturned, Braun repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. At one point he said, “This is all B.S. I am completely innocent.” A few months later, he added, “I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.” But when new evidence came to light last month, his tune changed. In a statement issued when his suspension was announced, Braun said, “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
Now Alex Rodriguez, one of baseball’s biggest stars, has been banned for the remainder of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season (but he can still play while he appeals the suspension). At 38 years old, the ban could mean the end of what has been a long and storied career for Rodriguez. And I’m OK with that.
Rodriguez’s suspension is the result of his ties to the same Miami clinic Braun was associated with. In addition to being accused of using the drugs, Rodriguez has been charged with interfering with the league’s investigation into the clinic—thus the reason for the longer suspension.
I can’t stand it when people think the rules don’t apply to them. It really bothers me when someone believes he is above the law. Braun and Rodriquez both knowingly and willingly broke the rules. They both knew the league had banned the substances, but they took them anyway. Then they lied about it, and in Rodriguez’s case, he allegedly interfered with the investigation. Once they headed down the path of taking the banned substances, they put themselves in a position where more lies and deceit would be necessary to keep their secret.
Some people argue that Braun and Rodriguez have hurt only themselves—that they put those substances into their own bodies and now are facing the consequences. But there have been consequences for others as well. Teams have lost games, playoff races, or even World Series games because of their drug-enhanced play. What about the pitchers who have had to face batters who have received an edge from performance-enhancing drugs? The pitchers’ success and, ultimately, their compensation rested in part on their play against guys who had the deck stacked in their favor. There have been negative consequences for others at the hands of these two.
I must admit, I enjoy it when cheaters get caught. I like to think that people and companies that cut corners in business will pay a similar price to Braun and Rodriguez. I like to think that those who publicly and repeatedly lie to get ahead will be revealed for what they are, as these two players have been. The rules are in place for a reason. If you don’t like them, don’t play the game. But if you think the rules don’t apply to you, then I’m hoping you get caught and face the consequences.