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Commentary: Who's the bigger loser, Braun or MLB?

Always great to see justice prevail.

Milwaukee Brewers superstar Ryan Braun claimed all along he was innocent, that there was no way he would ever put anything into his body against the rules of Major League Baseball, and darned if the arbitrator didn't agree.

OK, not exactly.

No one found any evidence that Braun didn't use performance-enhancing drugs that pushed his testosterone levels into King Kong range, but don't let that little nugget get in the way of Braun's smug assertions that the truth won out or his buddy Aaron Rodgers' tweet blaming the whole mess on the media.

Braun did win his appeal Thursday and he won't have to serve a 50-game suspension. But he still lost, because no outside of Wisconsin will ever believe him any more than anyone believes Barry Bonds or Rafael Palmeiro or Roger Clemens.

It's unclear, however, who's the biggest loser here. Because as guilty as Braun looks, MLB looks every bit as incompetent.

Baseball has spent a remarkable amount of time and effort over the past decade trying to put the steroid mess behind it. MLB officials love to trumpet their comprehensive and penal drug-testing program.

And yet the procedures for testing appear to have been written by a middle-schooler. It's extremely vague as to what's supposed to happen immediately after a test is administered - thus the "chain of custody" argument Braun's legal team successfully used to get his suspension overturned.

To not foresee a rich ballplayer utilizing the best the legal system has to offer in searching for a way out of a positive test, and to leave open just such an obvious out with sketchily outlined procedures, is difficult to imagine.

But that's what happened, and MLB's collector was, apparently, not sure whether to drop Braun's sample off at an overnight mail center or to keep it at his house for a few days.

"Oh, you left the urine in a shelf on your fridge between the milk and the orange juice? Sounds about right. Now, nobody could possibly have messed with it, right?"

None of this means Braun is innocent of course. Just because someone "could have" tampered with the sample doesn't mean anyone actually did. And experts found no evidence indicating anything was done to the still-sealed sample, or that the extra time could've in any way compromised the result.

But, still, MLB allowed Braun's highly paid legal and investigative team to find a loophole.

Conspiracy theorists have a point when they note that struggling, young minor leaguers no one has ever heard of from foreign countries never seem to have their test results overturned.As for Braun, he reported to spring training on Friday to get ready for his NL MVP encore season, talking about vindication and implying that something sinister must've been going on.

Of course it was. That sort of nefarious stuff happens all the time.

Just ask O.J.

And while you're at it, see if he can spare some of his operatives still trying to find the real killer to look into who put the steroids in Braun's pee.

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