National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for a banned substance and is appealing to avoid a 50-game suspension, according to people familiar with the case.
ESPN cited two sources Saturday in first reporting the result, saying the Milwaukee Brewers slugger tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, adding that a later test by the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal determined that it was synthetic.
A spokesman for Braun said in a statement issued to ESPN and The Associated Press that "there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence."
"There was absolutely no intentional violation of the program," Matthew Hiltzik said in a statement sent by the All-Star left fielder's representatives.
"While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated," he said.
Major League Baseball does not announce positive tests and penalties in drug cases until all arbitration is settled.
The case is still being appealed to an arbitrator under MLB's drug program, a person familiar with the situation told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the appeal is still ongoing. The person said Braun and others involved in the appeals process have known about the positive test since late October.
If suspended, Braun wouldn't be eligible to play for the NL Central champions until May 31 at Dodger Stadium, barring any postponements. He would miss the first 57 days of the major league season, losing about $1.87 million of his $6 million salary.
Under MLB's drug program, if a player appeals a first positive test for a performance-enhancing substance, an announcement isn't made until after a decision. Appeals usually are heard by arbitrator Shyam Das.
Braun already was signed through 2015 when the Brewers gave him a new deal running through 2020 that added $105 million and guaranteed him a total of $145.5 million over a decade.