On Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun would be suspended for the rest of the 2013 season over his connections to the Tony Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic. While the suspension was probably not the news that Braun was hoping to hear, it does quell rumors that Braun’s initial failed drug test in 2011 had stemmed from an alleged bout with herpes.
Braun was first linked to alleged PED use in December 2011, when news broke that the former National League MVP had failed a drug test during that year’s playoffs after his sample displayed elevated levels of testosterone. At the time, Braun emphatically denied the charges, telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he was victimized by “highly unusual circumstances” and adding that he was “completely innocent.”
However, the Internet rumors began to swirl when MLB sources told TMZ that Braun’s failed drug test was allegedly caused by a medication that the outfielder had been taking for a “private medical issue.” Before long, popular sports blogs such as Terez Owens, Yardbarker and Through The Fence had all speculated that Braun was taking medication for an outbreak of an STD, which was most frequently identified as herpes. It's worth noting that well-respected investigative sports blog Deadspin refused to run the story after raising doubts about its validity.
On Dec. 15, 2011, Brewers sources allegedly told Terez Owens that “Braun [would] be left off because he tested positive for herpes and the medication given to him by his doctor … is what caused the spike.” This report, along with TMZ’s mention of a “private medical issue,” led to wild speculation that Braun did indeed have an STD.
The herpes rumors were so pervasive that Braun was forced to address the situation during a Feb. 2012 press conference on the PED allegations. During the conference, Braun flatly denied that he had ever had herpes, stating, “I’ve never had a personal medical issue, and I’ve never had an STD.”
Braun’s denial quieted the herpes rumors, and the 29-year-old was ultimately exonerated from the 2011 PED suspension. However, Braun was linked to PED use again in 2012 due to his alleged dealings with Biogenesis, a clinic that was known to traffic in HGH and other performance-enhancing substances. The MLB’s decision to suspend Braun for the remainder of the 2013 season may have finally put rumors that the slugger had herpes to rest, but at the cost of $3.4 million in salary and the remainder of his credibility.