News has leaked that the current MVP of the National Baseball League, Ryan Braun, who plays for the Brewers, failed a drug test during the post-season. (See for example here.) He's appealing and we don't know the outcome yet.
But let's parse the statements made to the media.
From Braun's powerful agency (my italics):
There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program.
Sounds like the same defence as every other accused athlete... not disputing that the banned substance exists but claiming innocent reasons for its existence. The Tour de France champion Contador blamed a piece of steak in the most unlikely scenario, for instance (see here). As I argued in Chapter 4 of Numbers Rule Your World, this line of defense does not dispute the testing lab's work so what we really need is a foolproof lie-detector test; unfortunately, such a thing doesn't exist.
From the same agent:
Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history.
"No previous history" presumably means no past positive tests. But this doesn't mean as much as they want it to mean. All anti-doping tests are calibrated to minimize false positives, and as a result, a lot of dopers go undetected. While no past positives means something, it doesn't really mean that much.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig makes a similar misstatement when he claimed:
The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst today's players has greatly subsided and is virtually nonexistent, as our testing results have shown.
The testing results (few positive findings) do not prove this unless one turns a blind eye to the false negative problem.
This next fact means quite a lot more:
[Braun] becomes the first reigning MVP to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs, though many award-winners through the early part of this century -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, to name a few -- either tested positive for steroids or were strongly linked to them through legal proceedings or investigations.
The irony is that winning the MVP is a strong indicator of steroid usage.