After San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in July, he knew he was facing a 50-game suspension. So to avoid that punishment, he became embroiled in a complicated scheme that involved creating a fake website for a nonexistent supplement, the New York Daily News reports.
The idea apparently was to create a digital record showing Cabrera had ordered a supplement that caused the positive test, the newspaper reports. MLB’s drug program allows players who have tested positive to present evidence they ingested banned substances through no fault of their own.
“There was a product they said caused this positive,” a source told the Daily News. “Baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly.”
Once MLB’s department of investigations started asking questions about the website, it quickly discovered it was an existing website that had been altered by adding an ad for a nonexistent topical cream.
At the center of the scheme is Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, who is a paid consultant for the player’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson. The Daily News says he is alleged to have paid $10,000 to acquire the fake website.
Nunez told the newspaper he was “accepting responsibility for what everyone else already knows,” regarding the fake website. He said the Levinsons knew nothing about the scheme. “I was the only one who had dealings with the website. Neither Seth nor Sam had any dealings with the website, nor did anyone else in the firm.”
Seth Levinson said the agents used the Spanish-speaking Nunez as a liaison with their Dominican clients, including Cabrera.
“Juan Nunez is NOT a salaried employee of ACES and does NOT receive the benefits that all ACES employees receive,” Levinson said. “Most importantly, any and all calls, texts and emails that he sends come from his own PERSONAL devices (BlackBerry).”
The use of the fake website has brought attention to the case from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and MLB’s Department of Investigations, which are probing Cabrera’s associates, including trainers, handlers and agents, as they search for the source of the synthetic testosterone for which he tested positive.
The Department of Justice and Major League Baseball have begun a joint investigation seeking the source of San Francisco Giants All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera’s synthetic testosterone, according to an official with direct knowledge of the case.
Officials says the investigation would include Jeff Novitzky, a criminal investigative agent for the Food and Drug Administration who was the lead investigator in the BALCO scandal that brought to light the performance-enhancing drug use of star athletes.”
All of a sudden, it’s a whole new ballgame,” Victor Conte, the co-founder of BALCO said. “You’re going to see a whole lot of players roll. My prediction is you’re going to see a whole lot more players cooperate with Novitzky than they would MLB’s investigators.
“It’s just the difference in power. Law enforcement officials can subpoena. What will be interesting now is to see whether they will go after people at the top of the food chain [drug dealers], or become trophy hunters, and go after the biggest names to get the biggest headlines.”
Novitzky’s involvement in the case was first reported by the New York Daily News. Cabrera, who received a 50-game suspension last week for testing positive for testosterone use, also could be subjected to further discipline from a bizarre plot to create a phony website as an alibi for his positive test, which was revealed by the Daily News.
MLB officials declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation, which includes Cabrera’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, and Juan Nunez, a paid assistant for the Levinsons who told the Daily News he was accepting responsibility for the ruse.The Giants said they were unaware of Cabrera’s plot to concoct a website to sell a non-existent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the testosterone.
“We do everything we can not to have anything like this happen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told news reporters Sunday. “We don’t allow anybody in the clubhouse without credentials. We don’t allow supplements in the clubhouse. … What else can we do?We can’t have bodyguards on these guys 24/7. It comes down to choices. Unfortunately, I do think they get bad advice from other sources.”