Yahoo news and Slate have coverage and commentary on an arbitration panel's decision to overturn the 50 game suspension of National League MVP Ryan Braun. Braun had been suspended for testing positive for synthetic testosterone. Braun--who maintains his innocence--with the MLB Players Association, fought the suspension on the grounds of the chain of custody provisions of nonadherence to the league's and players' Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Braun's urine sample had been collected on a Saturday night and not sent to the testing lab until Monday.
Article X of the Joint Program, Integrity of the Specimen, lays out a very detailed process on how the testing process works. At Section V., it provides,
7. The Collector shall check the “FedEx” box in the section entitled “Specimen Bottles(s) Released to:” Absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the Laboratory on the same day they are collected. [Emphasis supplied].Although the arbitration decision has not been published, by looking at Article X it's pretty clear where at least some of the battle lines were drawn.
The decision is stirring up dismay and controversy among baseball fans, but it stands as a good illustration of "industrial due process" and a good reminder for those of us in labor and employment law that there is no substitute for a close reading of a contract.