Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Picture the following scenario:
Somewhere in Wisconsin. A Milwaukee Brewers fan, a young boy in the 6-8 year range is discussing Ryan Braun with his father. The boy is aware of and has been following the Braun controversy.
BOY: “So Ryan won his argument, right?”
FATHER: “That’s correct, son.”
BOY: “He won’t be suspended for 50 games?’
FATHER: “No he won’t.”
BOY: “That’s because he fought his case and won.”
FATHER: “Yes he did.”
BOY: “That means he didn’t take those drugs, right?”
The only correct answer would be a totally honest answer, even though it may only lead to more wide-eyed questions and a possible broken heart and shattered dreams for the young fan.
“Well…we don’t know for sure, and we may never know.”
Gary Wadler, a physician and former official with the World Anti-Doping Agency told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week the 44 hours Braun’s urine sample were kept in basement of the Collector would not have affected the sample results leaving these possibilities: someone deliberately smeared a testosterone gel onto Braun's skin without his knowledge, someone tampered with Braun's urine sample (that is looking extremely remote), or that Braun did take an illegal substance.
Thickening the pesky cloud that won’t disappear is the fact that Braun didn’t initially question the results. He questioned the now familiar “chain of custody.” Braun successfully beat the rap on a technicality, that being that the Collector didn’t follow exactly the letter of Major League Baseball’s policy for collecting samples and sending them within the proper timetable to the designated lab.
When the appeal was won, Braun stepped to the microphone and said all the right things: He had passed drug screenings at least 25 times in his career, the elevated level of testosterone allegedly discovered was three times greater than the level detected in any previous drug test by any player, and that his weight, speed and strength have never fluctuated.
Then Braun committed a PR error. He went after the Collector, strongly inferring he may have tampered with the sample, despite having no evidence to back up such a theory.
When the Collector crawled out from under the bus this week to staunchly defend his career and character, the story sprouted more legs.
Baseball is not limited to Brewer Nation, and not everyone buys that Braun didn’t take performance enhancing drugs. These doubters find his case unconvincing.
That brings us to the youngsters. Athletes may deny it, but they are role models that have a tremendous influence on kids who will have a difficult time believing that one of their tall heroes could behave badly.
A colleague of mine described the Braun case this way. It’s like the driver pulled over for going 80 in a 55 by a very experienced, upstanding officer. Later in court, the speeding ticket is tossed because the defense lawyer was able to find something mechanically wrong with the radar gun.
Young people deserve and should know the truth. Professional athletes have violated rules in the past. Braun tested positive. It’s not the first and it won’t be the last time a ballplayer will find himself in trouble. Two out of three judges (arbitrators) decided that Braun should not be suspended because, in their view, despite no evidence of tampering, a rule is a rule. The sample was to have been mailed the exact day it was taken. It was not. End of case.
That leaves the door open, as Gary Wadler suggested, that Braun did take something he shouldn’t have. Does that make Braun a bad person? No. It means that good people do dumb things.
There’s a teaching lesson here for parents. Professional athletes are not and shouldn’t be regarded as infallible creatures. Like all humans, they are capable of big mistakes that can haunt them for a long, long time.
Too many lingering questions remain to keep the honest, albeit painful truth from any inquiring young Brewer fan.
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UPDATE: FRANKLIN PROPERTY TAXPAYERS, HOLD ON TO YOUR WALLETS!