Former Brewers' head physician weighs in on Ryan Braun situation

MILWAUKEE -- The biggest yet-to-be-answered question in Milwaukee sports remains: did Major League Baseball's National League MVP take a banned substance that cased him to test positive during random drug testing, and will he end up with a lengthy suspension because of it? That question may not be answered for weeks, but in the meantime, a doctor who served as the Milwaukee Brewers head physician back in 1997 weighs in on what he tells athletes when it comes to supplements and banned substances.

Employees at The Natural Food Shop near 13th and Oklahoma say they see men come into their shop all the time, looking for amino acids to build their body. They'll use items like whey protein, and supplements that can reduce recovery time and inflammation. "All high-level athletes want to improve their performance," one employee said.

Dr. Theodore Gertel says many supplements aren't regulated, and may contain substances not fully disclosed on the label. Gertel was the head physician for the Milwaukee Brewers back in 1997, and is the team physician for Marquette University and Homestead High School. "If an athlete takes some kind of banned substance, it would be highly unlikely they got it from a team physician. As a team physician, I do everything possible to warn the athletes to be very careful about what you ingest. Know exactly what you're taking," Dr. Gertel said.

Dr. Gertel says an athlete may unknowingly take a substance that seems okay, but isn't. "Whether it's an over-the-counter medication, or even certain prescription medications, you don't want to get yourself into any type of trouble, where you could be ruled ineligible to participate, so if a player takes a banned substance, most of the time, it's something they've stumbled upon themselves," Dr. Gertel said. Dr. Gertel says if there is a documented medical condition in which an athlete needs something on the banned substance list, he could file for a therapeutic exemption, but he would need prior approval to take it.

Dr. Gertel says while what's happening to Braun is unfortunate, it's a reminder to all athletes to be careful!