Congratulations to Alex Rodriguez. For this brief moment in time, somehow you are not the most unlikable PED user in baseball! It took a heroic effort from Ryan Braun, but holy crap is this a bad look.
ESPN first reported the news, followed up shortly by an independent report from Yahoo, and each outlet's sources say the same thing: in the 2011-12 offseason, as Braun appealed a failed drug test, he launched a private smear campaign against the sample collector Dino Laurenzi Jr, alleging that he was biased against Jewish people, and, worse, a Cubs fan.
Braun would eventually win his appeal—an independent arbitrator ruled that his urine sample was mishandled and was therefore inadmissible. But as the threat of a 50-game suspension hung over his head, Braun reportedly called up veteran players around the league in the hopes that they would publicly stand up for him. According to Yahoo, those players included Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, and Matt Kemp.
(That last one is interesting, because Braun beat out Kemp for the 2011 NL MVP. If true, this might explain Kemp's angry comments after Braun fessed up to PED use last month. Kemp said Braun should lose the MVP award, and said,
"I talked to Braun before any of this happened, we had conversations and I considered him a friend. I don't think anybody likes to be lied to and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed.")
According to both ESPN and Yahoo (curiously, both cite "three sources"), Braun intimated to players that Laurenzi might have had it out for him because he was anti-Semitic, and Braun is Jewish. Or perhaps, Braun implied, it was because Braun is a Brewer and Laurenzi roots for the Cubs. (Love this bit from Yahoo: "A source close to Laurenzi...said the anti-Semitism allegation is untrue; his fan allegiance is unclear.")
The Yahoo report also mentions how, on the first day of Spring Training when Braun held an impassioned press conference to protest his innocence, a person close to Braun first leaked Laurenzi's name to the media.
In response to the latest allegations, Braun's Camp had this to say to ESPN:
"Ryan isn't currently commenting on anything — rumor or reality — related to his arbitration process or his suspension. He has acknowledged his mistakes, accepted his punishment, and is beginning to make amends and will comment at an appropriate time."
Ryan Braun lobbied for support [ESPN.com]