Major League Baseball management has fired Shyam Das, the arbitrator who overturned Ryan Braun’s drug suspension in February.
MLB informed Das and the players’ association of its decision last week. Das had been baseball’s permanent arbitrator since 1999, part of what technically is a three-man panel that also includes a representation of management and labour.
“Shyam is the longest-tenured panel chair in our bargaining relationship,” union head Michael Weiner said. “For 13 years, from the beginning to the end of his tenure, he served the parties with professionalism and distinction.”
Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement says the arbitrator can be removed by the players’ association or management at any time with written notice.
The sides will now try to select a successor. If they cannot agree, baseball’s collective bargaining agreement calls for them to ask the American Arbitration Association for a list of “prominent, professional arbitrators.” The sides would then alternate striking names from the list until one remains.
Das, a graduate of Harvard and Yale University Law School, also has been an arbitrator for the NFL since 2004 and is scheduled to hear a grievance in the New Orleans Saints bounty case on Wednesday.
“It does not impact his role at an arbitrator for our CBA,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Das decided in February to overturn the 50-game suspension of Braun for positive drug test following a grievance hearing. Lawyers for the Milwaukee outfielder, the reigning NL MVP, argued that the collection procedures specified in baseball’s drug agreement for the urine sample were not followed with Braun’s sample last October because it was not immediately left at a Federal Express office.
The collector testified that because the sample was taken on a Saturday and could not have been shipped that day to the testing laboratory outside Montreal, he concluded the sample would be more secure at his home. He then took it to a FedEx office on the following Monday.
Baseball’s drug agreement states that “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected.”
The sides asked Das to hold off on issuing a written decision while they negotiated changes to the drug agreement.
Das took over as baseball’s permanent arbitrator from Cornell professor Dana Eischen, who was hired in December 1997 but quit after ruling the following May against J.D. Drew’s grievance seeking free agency. Temporary arbitrators were used between Eischen and Das.