(Reuters) - Major League Baseball (MLB) has suspended former National League most valuable player Ryan Braun for the rest of the 2013 season for violating the league’s joint drug prevention and treatment program.
The suspension of the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, which was announced in a statement by MLB on Monday, will keep Braun out of the final 65 games of the 162-game season and any potential playoff games.
MLB did not specify why Braun had been suspended, though the 29-year-old is among at least 20 players in the league who have been implicated in the Biogenesis doping scandal which is being investigated by the commissioner’s office.
”As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,“ Braun, the NL’s most valuable player in 2011, said in a statement. ”I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.
”This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization.
“I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country.”
Braun, along with other big-name players such as New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, has been suspected of procuring performance enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, the now-shut Florida anti-aging clinic.
“I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed - all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates,” said Braun, a five-time All-Star who has won five Silver Slugger awards.
“I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Braun, sidelined early this season by a stiff neck and later by an inflamed nerve near his right thumb, had a .298 batting average with nine home runs and 38 runs batted for a Brewers (41-56) team that is in last place in the NL Central.
He was suspended for 50 games by MLB after he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in October 2011 but that ban was overturned four months later after he successfully appealed.
It was the first time a baseball player had successfully challenged a drug-related penalty in a grievance, Braun having argued that testing protocols had not been strictly followed.
Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said in a statement on Monday: ”We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions.
“We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”
Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, whose union has also said it wanted action against anyone found cheating, added: ”I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step.
“It vindicates the rights of all players under the joint drug program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field.”
Weiner, who is confined to a wheelchair as he battles brain cancer, said earlier this month he expected MLB investigators to finish their interviews within weeks but that any penalties would have to be discussed between the league and union.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue