US retail chain sacks Braun as endorser
Disgraced Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has struck out as a celebrity spokesman after he was dumped as an endorser for an American convenient store chain.
After news broke Monday of his 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip Inc. said it would cut ties with Braun.
Kwik Trip director of marketing and advertising Gary Gonczy told ESPN Tuesday it was ending their four-year relationship.
Privately-owned Kwik Trip had used Braun's name in radio and television commercials connected with its stores in the US states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowas, ESPN reported.
Braun also has endorsement deals with Nike, Inc., SURG Restaurant Group and Ottawa, Canada-based SAM BAT.
The wooden baseball bat maker SAM BAT, who has also used other disgraced sluggers Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco to sell its products online, told ESPN it would continue its relationship with Braun.
Nike could not be reached for comment.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced Monday that Braun has been suspended for the remainder of the season.
Braun is the first player to be suspended in the wake of an investigation into Biogenesis, a Florida clinic suspected of supplying performance-enhancing drugs to top baseball players.
Braun was previously hit with a 50-game suspension in late 2011 but had it overturned in February the following year.
He tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, but he vehemently denied using performance enhancing drugs, and won the appeal on a technicality when he challenged how the test samples were stored.
The exact nature of Braun's offence was not specified. But it comes after he and other players -- including New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez -- were linked to the Biogenesis of America clinic run by Anthony Bosch.
The American media reported earlier this month that as many as 20 players could be banned for alleged involvement with the Florida anti-aging clinic.
When he won the league MVP award, Braun hit .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBI.
In 2012, he hit .319 with 41 homers and 112 RBI and he was hitting .298 with nine home runs and 38 RBI in 61 games this season.
Several Milwaukee players defended Braun in the wake of the scandal but former players like Hall of Famer Johnny Bench blasted Braun for not coming clean.
"Braun and society deny, deny deny! Good for MLB doing a good job," Bench wrote on Twitter.
But Brewers' catcher Jonathan Lucroy said this is "just a blip in his (Braun's) career" and that there are many players who are still playing professionally after being caught cheating.
"I still forgive him. He made a mistake. A lot of people make mistakes. Let's move on," said Lucroy. "This is a blip in his career. He made some bad choices and he is going to pay for them.
"He is going to come back in a year and perform and keep on playing. There are a lot of guys who have been busted and are still playing."
Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer described Braun's actions as "despicable".
"The whole thing has been despicable on his part," starting pitcher Scherzer said. "For me, as a player, you want to believe the system works, but obviously he found a way around it.
"And when he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector.
"And he was caught red-handed. I'm glad he got caught."
Braun could have the last laugh when he returns as expected next season. He still has $127 million remaining on his contract with Milwaukee.