Ryan Braun got off too easy

For Ryan Braun, a guy who lied so publicly and emphatically about his innocence after beating a positive drug test on a technicality, and who, we have to presume, was caught red-handed (or whatever the right term is for a positive urine or blood tests) – if not, why would he not persist with his denials? – being suspending for the final 65 games of a lost season is not enough.

For performance enhancing drug users, suspensions have to be in years – say two years or the length or their current contract, whichever is longer – and agents and clubs also have to be penalized. Require rebates to season ticket holders and half-price tickets (and no price increases) for a certain period of time. The idea is that everyone has an incentive to eliminate PEDs and no one has any incentive to tolerate them. Or just ban everyone for life for testing positive: one strike and you’re out.

It’s a bad joke that Melky Cabrera got caught using PEDs last year while a member of San Francisco Giants, set up a website to provide false evidence of his innocence, and wound up with a World Series ring and a raise, signing a contract for $16 million – more than nearly all of us will see in a lifetime – with the Toronto Blue Jays. The only good thing to say about the situation is that Cabrera has reverted to his apparent unenhanced form, providing the Jay with an extra-base hit about once every two weeks.

Let’s hope Major League Baseball throws the book at the next guy it catches using PEDs, whoever it may be. (All rooting for Alex Rodriguez, put on your rally caps.) And let’s hope the Hall of Fame voters continue their admirable record of shunning known PED users. Simply put, their achievements don’t count.

MLB also needs to state that recreational drugs are a legal, moral and, like alcohol, a conditioning matter. They’re different from PEDs which degrade the integrity of the game. What Tim Raines did, stealing bases with a vial of cocaine in his sock, is not equivalent to what Ryan Braun et al have done.

Finally, I think the PED punishments should bring to mind Pete Rose. I take a backseat to no one in my utter disdain for The Asshole. (Everybody knows Pete Rose blows!) But to give a guy the death penalty for gambling on the premise that even betting on your own team might influence the game on the field, yet not doing the same for doping that absolutely does influence the game on the field is the height of hypocrisy. I’m not saying pardon Rose – and I think his persistent lies have earned him extra lashes – but that PED users’ punishment has to be at least as severe.

Let the juiceheads roll.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer (and reforming baseball writer) Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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