PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun was forceful, emotional and relieved during a 23-minute session with reporters here Friday in his first public comments since his positive performance-enhancing drug test was leaked in December and since he was exonerated and had a potential 50-game suspension overturned by an arbiter on Friday.
Some highlights from his 13-minute opening statement:
• "This was the biggest challenge I've ever faced in my life."
• "I've tried to respect the process even though the confidentiality of the process was breeched early on> I've tgried to handle the situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that's who I am and that's how I've always lived my life. If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say, 'I did it.' By no means am I perfect. But if I've ever made mistakes in my life, I've taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and would bet my life that the substance never entered my body at any point."
• "I've always had tremendous respect for the game of baseball. ... I've put the best interests of the game ahead of the best interests of myself. And that hasn't been easy. There were a lot of times when I wanted to come out and tell the entire story and attack everybody as I've been attacked, as my name's been dragged through the mud, as everything I've ever worked for in my entire life has been called into question. There were a lot of times I wanted to tell the entire story but at the end of the day I recognized what's best for the game of baseball, and I put that ahead of what was best for myself."
• "I could have never, ever envisioned being in this position today discussing this subject. ... I learned a long time ago to stop questioning life. I believe that everything that's thrown at us, there's a reason for. I've yet to figure out exactly what the reason for this is, but I don't question that."
• "I've always stood up for what it right. Today's for everybody who has ever been wrongly accused, and for everybody who's ever had to stand up for what is right."
• "In spite of the fact that there have been many inaccurate, erroneous and completely fabricated stories about this issue, I've maintained the integrity of the confidentiality of the process. There's never been a personal medical issue, I've never had an STD [sexually-transmitted disease], many of the stories that were erroneously reported by the intial network [were wrong], and it's sad and it's disappointing that this has become a PR battle and people continue to leak information that's inaccurate."
• "We won because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day the truth prevailed. I'm a victim of a process that failed in the way that it was applied to me in this case. As players, we're held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everybody associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We're a part of a process where we're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. ... if we're held to that standard, it's only fair that everybody else is held to that exact same standard."
• "This is my livelihood, my integrity, my character, this is everything I've ever worked for in my life being called into question. We need to make sure we get it right. If you're going to be in a position where you're 100 percent guilty until being proven innocent, you cannot mess up."
• Braun said he was tested on Oct. 1, following Game 1 of the NL Division Series against Arizona in Milwaukee, and was made aware that he had tested positive on Oct. 19. At that point, he said, he had a conversation with representatives from the Players' Assn. "I expressed to them that I have not done anything that could have led to this test result. I told them, 'I promise you on anything that's ever meant anything to me in my life, the morals, the virtues, the values by which I've lived in my 28 years on this planet, I did not do this. I told them I would be an open book. I opened up my life to them. I told them I'd be willing and happy to take any test to prove to them I did not do this."
• "At the end of the day, I know the truth. My friends, family, teammates, the Milwaukee Brewers organization and everybody who knows me knows the truth. At the point that I told the Players' Assn. about the positive test, they told me that the results were three times higher than any number in the history of drug testing."
• "At that point I was able to prove to them through contemporaneously documented recordings that I literally didn't gain a single pound. When we're in Milwaukee, we weigh in once or twice a week. Our times are recorded every time we run down the line, first to third, first to home, I literally didn't get one tenth of a second faster. My workouts have been virtually the exact same for six years. I didn't get one percent stronger, I didn't work out more often, I didn't have any additional power or any additional arm strength. All of those things are documented ... if anything had changed, I wouldn't be able to go back and pretend like they didn't change."
• "I explained I'm 27 years old, I'm just entering my prime, I have a guaranteed contract for nine years, I've been tested over 25 times in my career, at least three times this season prior to this test, and an additional time when I signed my contract including an extensive physical, a blood test, everything you can imagine. ... They said, 'That's great, we believe you, the other side believes you, none of this makes any sense to anybody.'"
• "I want everybody to ask themselves this question: If you guys went to go get a physical, something you've done 20, 25 other times in your life, and three weeks later they came back and said you were terminally ill with a disease and it made no sense to you. You said I feel perfectly fine, nothing's different than it's ever been, this doesn't make any sense, and you look back at the process and you find that your doctor decided to take a urine sample home for a 44-, 48-hour period, and there's no documentation as to what happened, you don't know if he decided to leave it in the trunk of his car, where it could have been or what could have potentially happened to it during that period of time, I assure you that you would never go back to that doctor, and you would demand a re-test."
• "Ultimately as I sit here today, the system worked because I was innocent and I was able to prove my innocence."
• "I can't get into many details of the process because it's supposed to be confidential, and because of ongoing litigation, and because I'm considering all of my legal options, there may be some questions I can't answer."