Ryan Braun: Vindicated or lucky?

Ryan Braun
In this Oct. 2, 2011 photo, the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun celebrates after hitting a run home run during Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

(CBS/AP) After becoming the first baseball player ever to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty, Ryan Braun - and Brewers fans everywhere - are breathing a huge sigh of relief.

"It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation," said Braun, who had been facing a 50-game suspension for his positive drug test this past winter.

But is his reputation intact?

The ruling in Braun's favor may not be a total exoneration for the National League MVP. In fact, baseball arbitrator Shyam Das apparently overturned Braun's 50-game suspension not because he contested the positive drug test result but because he questioned how the sample was handled.

Braun apparently challenged the chain of custody from the time the urine sample was collected to when it was sent, nearly 48 hours later, to a World Anti-Doping Agency-certified lab in Montreal, sources told the AP.

The sample was collected on Oct. 1, a Saturday and the day the Brewers opened the NL playoffs. The collector did not send the sample to the laboratory until Monday, thinking it would be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office during the weekend.

Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

So is this chain-of-custody argument a slick tactic or a legitimate argument? Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane sports law program, argues the latter on Twitter:

But suspicion will likely follow Braun nonetheless. Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said: "To have this sort of technicality of all technicalities let a player off ... it's just a sad day for all the clean players."

One (presumably) clean player, however, did not think it was a sad day at all. A fellow star athlete in Wisconsin - a guy named Aaron Rodgers - blasted Major League Baseball and the media.

"MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man," Rodgers said on Twitter. "Picked the wrong guy to mess with. Truth will set u free."

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