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Voters defend leaving MVP award with banned Braun

MLB's 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers prepares to go on the field during their MLB spring trai
MLB's 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers prepares to go on the field during their MLB spring trai

By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Matt Kemp is miffed about losing out on the 2011 National League MVP award to Ryan Braun, but the trophy will remain with the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who was suspended this week for violating MLB's doping policy.

Kemp, runner-up in the 2011 voting, has said Braun should be stripped of the award, but the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) does not revisit awards they have bestowed.

"Ryan Braun won the award in an election that took place before he tested positive for steroids, a decision that was overturned by an arbitrator," Jack O'Connell, the BBWAA official who oversees voting for MLB's annual awards, said in an email to Reuters on Wednesday.

"Voters can only deal with information they have at hand."

Braun did not serve an automatic suspension for his failed doping test of 2011 when he won an appeal on grounds his sample had been mishandled.

Monday's 65-game suspension of Braun stemmed from Major League Baseball's (MLB) probe into players linked to a Florida anti-aging clinic that distributed performance enhancing drugs.

"Do I feel like it should be stripped? Yeah, I do," Kemp told reporters before Tuesday's road game against the Toronto Blue Jays, "I feel like it should be, but that's not for me to decide."

Kemp said he was "disappointed" with Braun, who insisted on his innocence until accepting a suspension without pay announced in a statement from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Monday.

"You don't like getting lied to," Kemp said. "A lot of people feel the same way. I'm sure I'm but another on that list."

O'Connell pointed out that MLB does not rewrite its record books and neither would the baseball writers.

"The commissioner's ruling did not include a statement saying that Braun's (batting) record in 2011 or that of the Brewers no longer count," O'Connell said.

"What is Matt Kemp's complaint? If it is that he should receive an award that he did not win in an election, I do not know where to go."

Kemp did not go so far as to say he ought to be named the 2011 MVP winner.

"I was in the race for MVP and got second. The voters had their opinion of who they wanted to pick as MVP," Kemp said. "You have to respect who they picked.

"It definitely would be nice to have an MVP trophy, but I didn't win the MVP. I was second."

Kemp went on to say the accomplishments of clean players were being tarnished by those who break the rules.

"As a player who never took PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) or steroids, it's upsetting that (those who do) take away from those guys who bust their butts in the gym and play the game clean," he said.

"We're all grown men who make our own decisions what we put in our bodies. We know what's right and what's wrong."

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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