Thursday, March 01, 2012

Urine, MVP, Science, Protocol, Testosterone, and How We Know Truth - Part 1

Here's the basic story:

1.  Ryan Braun was voted Most Valuable Player in the National League last year
2.  "Braun's positive test for testosterone showed a level that was extremely elevated, and likely the highest that has been recorded in Major League Baseball"[Sports Illustrated]
3.  Braun denies he did anything wrong and alleges that something happened to the sample.
4.  "Under baseball's drug policy, Braun was to be suspended for the first 50 games of this season." [LA Times]
5.  "A three-person appeals panel overturned the findings — a first in baseball."[LA Times]
6.  The basis for the appeals ruling was that the urine sample spent the weekend at the home of the tester instead of being shipped immediately by Fed Express to be tested.

After checking various accounts online, I'm pretty sure that the above six points are not disputed among the parties.

Somewhere in the literature of brainstorming there's a discussion of the kinds of ideas people come up with.  Some folks go into great depth around one or two options.  Other people have much more breadth - they come up with a wide variety of possible explanations.

The original article I read (the LA Times opinion piece) seemed to see this as either/or - either Braun is lying or the sample was tainted, and the writer didn't put much stock in the tainted option.

This blog's underlying theme is 'how do we know what we know?' 

What's your first reaction?  Is Braun guilty or a victim?  Or is this even the right question?

Then, before going deeper into this case, I'd like to ask readers to do some brainstorming and to come up with as many different stories as you can that plausibly incorporate the six 'facts' outlined above.  I'm interested in breadth here - the variety of different possibilities.  Are there stories that exonerate both Braun and the testers?  What further information would you need to know to test your stories?

I know you have lots to do today and some of you don't want to embarrass yourselves.  But you can be anonymous - but sign the comment with some identifier just to keep the Anons identifiable.  

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