MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun certainly doesn’t fit the image fans conjure up when they hear that a baseball slugger has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Since he joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, Braun has belted big home runs not with cartoonishly large muscles, but with a sweet swing and an ultra-quick bat. Last season, he helped drive the Brewers to the playoffs and was voted the NL’s Most Valuable Player.
Now Braun finds himself fighting a 50-game suspension after news leaked that he has tested positive for a banned substance. He steadfastly maintains his innocence.
Fans might be inclined to believe Braun, given his clean-cut image and that he hasn’t tested positive or even been suspected of using banned substances in the past. But there is a long history of athletes accused of taking banned drugs insisting they did so to recover from injuries. Sports medicine experts acknowledge the drugs might help, raising the possibility Braun might have been doing just that.
Norman Fost, a professor of pediatrics and director of the bioethics program at the University of Wisconsin, said vigorous exercise breaks down microscopic muscle fibers.
“One theory is that anabolic steroids hasten the repair of those muscle fibers, and allow you to work out harder,” Fost said.
Braun has dealt with nagging injuries in recent years, and other players have acknowledged they used performance enhancers to help them recover from injury.
Former All-Star pitcher Andy Pettitte said he used human growth hormone to recover from an injury.