The so-called "Steroids Era" in Major League Baseball is supposedly over--but someone forgot to tell the players; last year, Manny Ramirez--a two-time World Series champion and one of the most prolific sluggers of his era--retired rather than serve a 100 game ban after failing a performance-enhancing drug test for the second time in his career. It is bad enough that MLB spent more than a decade turning a blind eye while Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and many other cheaters won home run titles, picked up numerous MVP awards and turned the MLB record book into a fraudulent, meaningless document--but it is becoming increasingly apparent that PED usage is such a deeply ingrained part of MLB culture that even the belated adoption of a drug testing program has not discouraged big name players from continuing to cheat. The MLB's blind eye has been blackened so many times that I don't think integrity and honesty can ever be fully restored to the sport's record book and history; too many players successfully cheated the game to win MVPs and World Series rings.
Before Ryan Braun had the chance to pick up the 2011 NL MVP trophy, MLB revealed that he failed a PED test during the season. Neither MLB nor the baseball writers who vote on the award have expressed any interest in taking away MVPs from the previous generation of cheaters and the same low standard is being applied in Braun's case; even if Braun's appeal is denied and he is suspended for the first 50 games of the 2012 season he will still get to keep his trophy and his name will still be listed for all time as one of the sport's MVPs.
Maybe Braun is truly innocent--but if his best defense is that he unknowingly ingested a banned substance that is not much of a defense at all; all players have access to the banned substances list and they have the opportunity to easily check with MLB to make sure that they are complying with the rules. It strains credulity to believe the pathetic excuses offered by the long list of top notch players who claim to have "accidentally" taken a PED; an athlete's body is his primary source of his income and it is hard to believe that elite athletes "accidentally" put harmful (but temporarily performance-enhancing) substances in their bodies.