Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun issued a statement Thursday explaining his acceptance of a 65-game suspension from baseball.
The statement read, in full:
"Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year-and-a-half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.
"I have disappointed the people closest to me -- the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.
"It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents, and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am for that.
"Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed, and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.
"I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self-righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.
"For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of -- and the punishment for -- my actions.
"I requested a second meeting with Baseball to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected -- my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.
"I love the great game of baseball, and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.
"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again, and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.
"I support baseball's Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game. What I did goes against everything I have always valued -- achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people's trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers' organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them."
Braun, in his statement, did not address recent stories from ESPN and Yahoo! Sports in which he was said to have told other players that he heard Laurenzi rooted for the Cubs -- a division rival of the Brewers -- and was an anti-Semite.
Although Braun accepted full responsibility in his statement, he faces a long road toward regaining credibility with the public, if he ever regains it all.
As he mentioned, many fans will never forget his news conference in February 2012 after he won his appeal of a positive test. Braun proclaimed his innocence that day, questioned baseball's testing procedures and attacked the credibility of Laurenzi.
"If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say, 'I did it,' '' Braun said then. "By no means am I perfect, but if I've ever made any mistakes in my life I've taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point."
Braun, as he said in his statement, realized that he had made a mistake -- and the extent of his mistake -- only when baseball interviewed him in June, asking him pointed, specific questions.
Shortly after that, he requested a second meeting with baseball, admitted to his wrongdoing without even hearing all of the evidence against him, said he was sorry and deserved to be suspended.
Here is a fuller explanation of what happened, according to sources:
As Braun mentioned, he dealt with a left-calf strain in July 2011 and also left a game because of left hamstring tightness. During that time, a third party reached out to him and said that he could get him a product to help accelerate his recovery. The third party obtained the product from Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic at the center of baseball's latest PED scandal. Braun did not obtain the product directly from the founder of the clinic, Tony Bosch. Braun did not know Bosch at the time.
Braun used the substance, a cream that he believed to be an anti-inflammatory. Later that season, he took lozenges provided by the same third party. That October, Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone. One of the substances, or the combination of the substances, likely produced the positive result.
Did Braun check the substances with the Brewers' athletic trainers or other medical professionals, something all players are advised to do in this era of testing? No, he simply trusted the third party, who assured Braun that he was not taking anything illegal.
So, whether Braun cheated intentionally -- and it will be difficult for many to believe that someone so smart could be so naive -- he had no excuse.
He acknowledged as much in his statement, fully aware that he faces a long road ahead.