Ramey: With steroids, it's guilty until proven innocent – Morgan Hill Times: Columnist: ryan braun, baseball, drugs in sport, barry bonds, major league baseball

Despite the steroid-riddled biceps and a head that would make abobblehead jealous, watching Barry Bonds step to the plate wasalways an event.

An event that will forever be tarnished – yes – but an eventnonetheless.

Despite never failing a steroid test during his 22-year playingcareer, Bonds was always seen as a pariah and without a doubtsomeone who in the second half of his career took steroids likecandy.

He was never given the benefit of the doubt, despite his cloutover the game and his other-worldly ability, which he held longbefore any steroid allegations started.

And that's why the situation with the Milwaukee Brewers' RyanBraun rubs me the wrong way.

Braun is a similar player to Bonds. His numbers – a career .312hitter with 161 homers in 729 games – are other-worldly. In fact,compared with Bonds' first five years in the league – 117 homersand a sub-par .300 hitter – Braun's numbers are much moreimpressive.

Two years older than Bonds at this time in his career, Braun hasquickly established himself as one of the game's best and risingstars – if you could call an MVP award-winner "rising."

So why, with those impressive numbers, is Braun getting thebenefit of the doubt over his failed drug test, a drug test thatwas taken during the Brewers' playoff push and leaked to the presson Saturday?

Why is it that someone, who has created a résumé that alreadyplaces him among the sport's greatest hitters after only fiveyears, gets the collective reaction of "there must be somethingwrong with the test."

Maybe, the test is wrong. Maybe, for the first time sincebaseball has started testing for the drug, the results were somehowruined. Maybe, Braun is innocent as he proclaims – as he called thereports "B.S." to the USA Today.

But maybe should be nowhere near this conversation.

Instead of being treated like someone who was wronged, Braunshould be treated like Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmiero, who bothfailed the drug test.

The union president didn't come out to support Ramirez andPalmiero – and certainly not Bonds, like he did Braun earlier thisweek.

So the biggest question is, what's the difference?

Braun is the first next-generation superstar that has falleninto the trap of steroid testing. While Braun was growing up,playing college ball and even minor league ball, MLB's steroid erawas in full force.

Unlike Bonds, Braun was revered for his bat.

What last week's announcement does, though, is strips him ofthose accomplishments. And for MLB, after a summer of great pennantraces and a tremendous World Series, the last thing it needed wasone of its stars getting hit with the steroid hammer.

Catching an aging Ramirez in the twilight of his career is onething, but catching a budding superstar, who is just reaching hisprime, is devastating.

But none of that means he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

He failed a drug test, for now, that is a fact. So let's treatit like one until we hear otherwise.

Connor Ramey covers sports for the Morgan Hill Times and SouthValley Newspapers. He can be reached at cramey@svnewspapers.com,(831) 637-5566.

Ramey: With steroids, it's guilty until proven innocent – Morgan Hill Times: Columnist: ryan braun, baseball, drugs in sport, barry bonds, major league baseball

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