What was once just a ho-hum 50 game suspension for Melky Cabrera has now quickly turned into something much more serious. So serious that federal investigators are suddenly asking questions about Cabrera’s failed drug test and a fictitious website that was created to cover it up.
According the NY Daily News, the website and a nonexistent product were created to give the illusion that Cabrera “inadvertently took the banned substance”. A defense that is used quite often when dealing with failed drug tests.
But instead of proving that Cabrera was innocent, the scheme has “trapped him in a web of lies.”
The scheme began unfolding in July as Cabrera and his representatives scrambled to explain a spike in the former Yankee’s testosterone levels. Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, described by the player’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” of their firm but not an “employee,” is alleged to have paid $10,000 to acquire the phony website. The idea, apparently, was to lay a trail of digital breadcrumbs suggesting Cabrera had ordered a supplement that ended up causing the positive test, and to rely on a clause in the collectively bargained drug program that allows a player who has tested positive to attempt to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.
“There was a product they said caused this positive,” one source familiar with the case said of Cabrera’s scheme. “Baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly.”
Nunez told The News Saturday that he was “accepting responsibility for what everyone else already knows,” regarding the fake website, adding that the Levinsons were not involved in the website in any way. They also adamantly deny any knowledge of the scheme or having been involved with it.
With Nunez apparently taking the rap for this the Levinsons are attempting to completely distance themselves from the scheme. Which seems to be working so far.
“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).”
According to sources familiar with the case, the Levinsons are not a target of a probe by the feds, who are believed to have become interested in the Cabrera case as a result of the website machinations.
It’ll be interesting how MLB decides to handle this. Will they just let their punishment stand or make an example of out of Cabrera?