As I understand the rules that Major League Baseball agreed to abide by in administering its drug testing program, drug testing and any appeal of a positive test result is to remain confidential until the process has run its course and a sanction is imposed. Even then, what can be said publicly is very limited.
This policy of confidentiality was violated when someone leaked Braun's test results to ESPN. Assuming (and I think we can) that Braun didn't leak it, the guilty party was almost certainly an employee or agent of MLB. MLB should be embarrassed by that. In light of that, its decision to issue a statement that MLB "vehemently" disagrees with the arbitration panel's decision to throw out Braun's positive test and rescind his suspension is, as they say in the game, bush league.
Had someone working for MLB not leaked the results, it could have made no public statement about the arbitration decision. No one would have known of the test results or the appeal.
But, now, because MLB violated its agreement with the players once, it apparently has decided to double down and break the rules - or at least their spirit - once again.
The agreement does have a provision that allows MLB to "respond to any inaccurate or misleading claims by ... [a] Player that could undermine the integrity and/or credibility of the Program. " Perhaps that's how they would justify what otherwise appears to be an impermissible statement. Braun defended himself.
But Braun wouldn't have had to defend himself if MLB had managed to follow the rules in the first instance. I understand that it may think Braun is guilty or be worried about the implications of a player getting off and undermining the impression that the drug testing is flawless. They may have thought that the neutral arbitrator imposed a standard for assessing the validity of the chain of custody that was too high.
But the fact that this has become public is MLB's fault. It should have taken its lumps and kept its collective mouth shut.