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Friend Ralph Sasson suing Ryan Braun, claims Braun doped in college

Ryan BraunRalph Sasson, a longtime friend of Ryan Braun, is suing the suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder for defamation, according to ESPN.

Sasson, 29, claims that he assisted in Braun’s successful appeal of a 2011 positive test for elevated levels of testosterone. According to ESPN, Sasson accuses Braun of doping while in college at the University of Miami, committing academic fraud, and accepting money.

Sasson says he was asked by Braun’s agent, Nez Balelo, to conduct background research on Braun’s urine sample collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr. The 29-year-old says he had to threaten Balelo with a lawsuit in order to get paid the $5,000 he was owed. Sasson also says that he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get paid. Sasson claims the non-disclosure agreement was violated when Braun allegedly made defamatory statements about him. Sasson also alleges that Braun wanted him to prank call ESPN reporters T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada, who were working on their initial report of Braun’s positive test. Sasson is seeking unspecified damages.

Court filings found by Larry Brown Sports show that the case was filed in Milwaukee County court on July 31. Braun’s attorney Howard Weitzman believes the suit will be dismissed.

Sasson, who currently lives in Milwaukee, grew up with Braun in Granada Hills, Calif. The two later attended the University of Miami. Sasson is currently studying at Taft Law School, which is an online program.

Sasson was also a plaintiff in a 2011 lawsuit brought against Absolute Technology Law Group. In the case, Sasson alleged that he was not paid overtime wages for work done for the company in Aug. 2011. He claimed he was fired when he demanded payment for overtime. At the time, Sasson stated he was unemployed, had no assets, and a bank account balance of -73.31 dollars. The case was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement.

Sasson declined comment to LBS when reached via email.

Report: Alex Rodriguez leaked info implicating Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli

Alex Rodriguez YankeesJust when we thought the Alex Rodriguez saga could not get any more interesting, a report from “60 Minutes” comes along that indicates A-Rod’s inner circle may be responsible for Ryan Braun and New York Yankees teammate Francisco Cervelli being outed for their involvement with Biogenesis.

Back in January, the Miami New Times published a report that included a spreadsheet which showed Rodriguez and other players’ alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. The hand-written documents came straight from Biogenesis boss Anthony Bosch, but Braun and Cervelli’s names were redacted.

Just days later, Yahoo! Sports followed up with a report that included unredacted versions of the documents. Both Braun and Cervelli were mentioned in the second report. Two sources with “direct knowledge” of the matter reportedly told “60 Minutes” that Rodriguez’s camp leaked the unredacted documents to Yahoo! Sports. A-Rod’s lawyer David Cornwell denied the claim.

“The allegations are untrue and are another attempt to harm Alex — this time by driving a wedge between Alex and other players in the game,” Cornwell said in a statement. “While Alex focuses on baseball and repeatedly states that he is going to respect the appeal process, the drumbeat of false allegations continues.”

[Related: A-Rod says this is the calmest he has felt in his career since Seattle]

Why would A-Rod be so adamant about bringing others down with him? The logical explanation would be that it would take some of the attention off himself, with another superstar like Braun also being tied to Biogenesis. The confusing thing is Rodriguez’s name was listed alongside Braun and other players in the documents, yet he is reportedly fighting to have his entire suspension wiped clean while the other players have accepted their punishment.

The popular belief is that A-Rod was given a longer suspension for interfering with MLB’s investigation. If his camp is found to have leaked documents while the investigation was ongoing, that would not look good for Rodriguez.

H/T Sports Illustrated

Nike reportedly drops Ryan Braun

ryan-braunMilwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun stands to make plenty of money when he returns to the field in 2014, but his sources of income off the baseball diamond are dwindling. The scorned slugger lost what was likely his biggest endorsement deal on Friday when Nike reportedly parted ways with him.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins acknowledged that the sneaker and apparel juggernaut no longer has a relationship with Braun. Braun has used Nike products throughout his entire MLB career, and his deal had recently included sales of T-shirts with “Big Bat Like Braun” and “Braun Owns Milwaukee” written across the front of them.

As Rovell pointed out, Braun has now lost almost all of his endorsement deals since his name first became associated with performance-enhancing drugs two years ago. Earlier this month, he was dropped by a large chain of convenience stores called Kwik Trip. His deal with Muscle Milk was not renewed last year and Braun’s name no longer appears on Wilson’s website, though the sporting goods company has not said if they have dropped him.

There is still a restaurant in Milwaukee called Ryan Braun’s Graffito which is named after Braun. The restaurant’s owner, Omar Shaikh, said he could not comment on the establishment’s relationship with Braun at this time. Braun was also supposed to open a restaurant with Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers recently said he is not sure if that will still happen after Braun lied to him on numerous occasions.

Nike has proven in recent years that it will not tolerate clients who have admitted to PED use. The company cut ties with Lance Armstrong in May and track coach Trevor Graham in 2006 because of their association with doping, but stuck with Tiger Woods throughout his infamous sex scandal. As expected, things are getting worse for Braun before they get better.

Milwaukee Brewers giving fans $10 vouchers in wake of Ryan Braun drama

Brewers-fan-Ryan-Braun-fraud-shirtThe Milwaukee Brewers were not exactly a playoff team before Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season, so you can understand why the suspension may have been the final straw for some of the team’s fans. In an attempt to avoid a major drop-off in ticket sales, the Brewers are offering fans $10 vouchers for the month of August.

The promotion, which is called “Fans Eat Free,” allows fans to use the voucher toward concessions, merchandise or future tickets. While the team would not specifically say that this is a way of trying to apologize for Braun, we all get the point.

“This has been a challenging season for all of us, but the one thing that has never wavered has been the tremendous support we have received from fans who love the Brewers,” Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said, according to TMJ 4 in Milwaukee. “We wanted to do something meaningful to show our appreciation, and we will strive to provide the best fan experience possible.”

For whatever reason, sales of Braun merchandise have reportedly increased since his suspension was announced last monday. Perhaps fans will use their $10 vouchers to continue buying his stuff. Can you use them on beer? That would probably make the most sense at this point.

H/T Deadspin

Zack Greinke disappointed in Ryan Braun

Zack GreinkeZack Greinke finally expressed his feelings about Ryan Braun’s admission of guilt and suspension, and he said he is disappointed with his former Milwaukee Brewers teammate.

Greinke was teammates with Braun on the Brewers in 2011, the year Braun won MVP and tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the team’s playoff run. Greinke was also with the Brewers for the first half of last season when Braun denied doing anything wrong in his now infamous spring training speech. Greinke wanted a few days before sharing his feelings about Braun’s admission of guilt and season-long suspension, and he finally opened up on Friday.

“The main thing is, yeah, he lied to us,” Greinke said via the LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez. “He forced us to lie for him, threw people under the bus in order to help himself out and didn’t care, blamed others for his mistakes and it’s just a lot of things you don’t expect from people.”

Greinke saying Braun “blamed others for his mistakes” was a reference to the MVP suggesting the sample collector tampered with his sample to lead to the positive test. Greinke also said he believed Braun when the outfielder said he was clean.

“Oh, yeah, 100% believed him,” Greinke said. “Everything was so convincing. He had people to blame. He seemed like a really good guy. He was a good teammate at the time. You don’t know the guys that he was pinning it on. I’m not positive, but I think everyone 100% believed him at the time. Especially the next year, he looked just as good as the year before. His numbers his whole career, Hall of Fame numbers. How could you not believe him? He was so convincing.”

Greinke says he’s thought about it a lot and it’s “upsetting” that Braun still has not really apologized for using and lying about it. He explained in detail some of what made him so disappointed

“Just the fact that he was willing to use anyone that got in his path. The closer you were to him, the more he would use you. It’s just disappointing that a human being could be like that.”

Greinke clearly gave a lot of thought to the matter and is extremely disappointed with Braun. But he’s not alone. Both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Kemp shared similar feelings and said they didn’t like being lied to.

Braun may be able to rebuild his reputation over the rest of his career, but it seems like he has done some serious damage among his teammates and colleagues.

Aaron Rodgers on Ryan Braun: ‘It doesn’t feel great being lied to’

Aaron Rodgers Ryan BraunAside from Ryan Braun himself, there were very few people who looked more idiotic than Aaron Rodgers when Braun’s suspension was announced. Rodgers, who became very good friends with Braun due to their similar ages and career paths, was extremely vocal in defending Braun back in 2011 when Braun failed a drug test.

At Green Bay Packers training camp on Friday, Rodgers broke the silence on the situation and explained to reporters how a friend let him down.

“I was shocked, I really was, just like many of you were,” Rodgers said, via Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I was backing up a friend. He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true.

“So, it is disappointing, not only for myself as a friend, but for obviously Wisconsin sports fans, Brewer fans, really baseball fans. It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that and I’m disappointed in the way it all went down.”

While Rodgers probably could have been quieter in defending his friend and not bet a Twitter follower a year’s salary that he was clean, you almost have to feel sorry for him. We all want to support our friends and believe what they are telling us is true. On Friday, Rodgers wouldn’t even say if he was committed to still running a restaurant with Braun.

“That’s yet to be determined,” he said. “I don’t regret backing a friend up. Obviously in hindsight a more measured approach would obviously be a better course of action. I definitely believe in forgiveness and moving forward. He has a tough task in front of him moving forward with his career, on and off the field.”

But is he still considered a friend?

“I was disappointed in the way it went down … I trusted him,” Rodgers said. “That’s the thing that probably hurts the most.”

Again, I doubt Rodgers would have been so vocal if he did not believe Braun. Like many others, he was duped. Next time he’ll know to keep his opinion to himself rather than flaunting it in public.

Brewers say Ryan Braun merchandise sales have increased since suspension

Ryan BraunMilwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun let down an entire fan base after admitting this week to using performance-enhancing drugs and accepting a suspension for the rest of the season. But despite losing an endorsement deal and $3.8 million in salary, Braun is still generating revenue through merchandise sales.

According to Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger, there has been an increase in the sales of Braun merchandise since the suspension was announced on Monday.

“We will continue to offer Ryan Braun’s merchandise for sale at our team stores at Miller Park,” Schlesinger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday. “Ryan is a Milwaukee Brewer. It is within each fan’s right to decide whether to purchase his merchandise or not. While it has only been a few days since the announcement of Ryan’s suspension, we actually have experienced an increase in sales of Ryan Braun merchandise. We are not speculating as to the reason for this increase, but it’s the reality.”

As of now, the Brewers are planning to hold onto Braun. He is under contract with the team through 2020, so pulling his merchandise from the shelves would make no sense. The team probably won’t be putting out any advertisements that encourage fans to snatch up No. 8 jerseys, but discontinuing them is not an option.

The increase in sales could be a coincidence, or it could be a similar situation to Aaron Hernandez jerseys selling for big bucks on eBay and other sites. Relax, I’m not comparing Braun to an alleged murderer — I’m simply saying there are some people who may wonder if Braun will ever play for the Brewers again and might consider his Milwaukee gear to be a collector’s item.

It’s also possible that fans are buying Braun shirts to do what this fan did with hers. One thing we do know is that sports fans forgive quickly. If Braun serves his suspension and comes back the same player (and drug-free), plenty of fans will be willing to embrace him again.

H/T Big League Stew