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“Close friend” of Ryan Braun files defamation lawsuit against him

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6 News has learned a college buddy of embattled Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is now suing him for defamation. The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County court, and suggests Braun has been using steroids since his days at the University of Miami.

When Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2011, he needed help to beat the rap. According to a new lawsuit, his agent turned to one of Braun's long-time friends for assistance.

Now, Ralph Sasson is making some explosive allegations against the former National League MVP.

Since his 65-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, Braun has vaguely admitted to making "mistakes." However, this new lawsuit suggests Braun has "engaged in lying, cheating and deception" throughout his life.

Sasson is a self-described "close friend" of Braun's from grade school, high school and college.

Sasson declined multiple requests for an interview, but did provide FOX6 News with exclusive photos of he and Braun together.

This, as a lawsuit has been filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court containing documents that allege or imply that Braun has been using steroids since college, that he accepted illegal payments in violation of NCAA rules and that he committed academic misconduct at the University of Miami.

However, the primary complaint is that Braun made defamatory statements about Sasson after a business deal that went south.

It all started in 2011 when Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

Sasson says Braun's agent contacted him, offering $5,000 for research that would help his client beat the rap -- including a background check on Dino Laurenzi -- the man who collected Braun's urine.

The suit also accuses Braun of encouraging Sasson to make prank phone calls intended to throw off ESPN reporters who were preparing to break the story of Braun's failed drug test.

Sasson says he refused to make the calls, but he did perform research aimed at helping his friend.

When Braun's agent refused to pay, Sasson threatened to sue.

He eventually got paid, but only after signing a confidentiality agreement, which requires that neither party say disparaging things about the other.

The lawsuit claims Braun violated that agreement by telling others that Sasson was "rude to the staff at Miller Park" and that he is "crazy."

Sasson is asking the court for punitive damages.

While he refused recorded interviews, Sasson sent a statement to FOX6 News that says while he recognizes the lawsuit has placed him in the public eye, it is his intention "to try this case in a court of law and not the court of public opinion."

Sasson's complete statement reads:

"Due to the immense public controversy stemming from Ryan Braun's suspension by Major League Baseball, it is not lost on me that my recent court filing has thrust my family and myself into the public eye. Given the circumstances, it is only natural that I be asked to provide public comment on this matter. Notwithstanding, my intention is to try this case in a court of law and not the court of public opinion. I am a private citizen and I deeply value my privacy. As such, I will provide no further comment at this time. I respectfully request that others sympathize with my desire to not comment on this matter as doing so may prove prejudicial to my case."

A call to Braun's agent was not returned.