Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The man who collected Ryan Braun’s urine sample said he followed the protocol for Major League Baseball’s drug-testing program and that recent criticism by the player has caused his family emotional distress.
Braun, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, had a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug rules overturned by an arbitration panel. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder said the drug-testing process in his case was “fatally flawed” and that mistakes in handling his sample led to the failed test, not something he put in his body.
Dino Laurenzi Jr., who’s been collecting test samples for MLB since 2005, issued a statement yesterday in response to the comments by Braun, the only major league player to successfully appeal a drug suspension.
“I followed the same procedure in collecting Mr. Braun’s sample as I did in the hundreds of other samples I collected under the program,” Laurenzi said in a statement distributed by MLB.
Braun’s lawyers focused their appeal on whether the player’s sample was delivered promptly to a laboratory after it was collected on Oct. 1. Collectors are instructed to deliver samples to a FedEx shipping center on the day of the test to preserve anonymity and ensure the urine isn’t contaminated or misplaced, Braun said at a news conference on Feb. 24.
“There were a lot of things we learned about the collector, the collection process, about the way the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious,” Braun said.
The drug found in Braun’s system wasn’t identified by MLB. ESPN said it was synthetic testosterone, a muscle builder. Braun said that the MLB Players Association told him that his testosterone results were three times higher than any number in the history of drug testing.
Laurenzi said he collected samples from Braun and two other players on Oct. 1 following a playoff game, sealing Braun’s A and B samples with specially numbered tamper-resistant seals. The samples were placed in a sealed plastic bag, which went into a sealed cardboard specimen box, Laurenzi said. Those boxes then went into a FedEx shipping box, which Laurenzi said he took home because it was after 5 p.m. on a Saturday and there was no FedEx office within 50 miles that would ship packages that day or Sunday.
Laurenzi said Comprehensive Drug Testing had instructed collectors to safeguard samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for a day or more at a local office of the shipping company.
“The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident,” Laurenzi said.
He said the samples never left his custody, remained sealed and were kept in a container in his home in a basement office, which he said is sufficiently cool to store urine.
Laurenzi said he didn’t tamper in any way with the samples, which were shipped out Oct. 3 and delivered to the laboratory the following day.
“It is my understanding that the samples were received at the laboratory with all tamper-resistant seals intact,” Laurenzi said. “This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated.”
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