Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun reacts after hitting a game-winning home… (Morry Gash / Associated…)
National League most valuable player 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, and that a later test by the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal determined that it was synthetic.
A spokesman for Braun, who beat out the Dodgers' Matt Kemp in MVP voting, 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. ". . . We are confident that he will ultimately be exonerated."
Major League Baseball does not announce positive tests and penalties in drug cases until all arbitration is settled.
Braun, speaking to USA Today, said of the test result, "It's B.S."
Dave Stewart, the agent for MVP runner-up Kemp, told The Times: "If this thing turns out to be true and it turns out to be a fact that there were performance-enhancing substances in Ryan Braun, we're going to be disappointed. But let me be very, very clear: We're disappointed finishing second in the first place. My thoughts were that Matt should have won to begin with."
Stewart said he hopes Braun is vindicated — "From what I understand, this is a quality kid" — but that if the test result is upheld, it could be damaging to baseball.
"I think it was not long ago that the commissioner made a statement that the sport is clean," Stewart said. "Once again, it takes you a step back."
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 season.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.