San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended 50 games last week, allegedly created a fictitious website and product to convince Major League Baseball he unwittingly took a banned substance.
However, MLB officials quickly were onto the ruse during the investigation of his positive test for a banned testosterone, the New York Daily News reported Sunday. The plot, which is being probed by federal authorities and MLB, could cause Cabrera more serious problems than his current ban.
Cabrera and his entourage were being investigated by, among others, Jeff Novitzky, a criminal investigative agent for the Food & Drug Administration after the All-Star Game MVP tested positive for using a synthetic testosterone.
Cabrera has been the Giants' No. 3 hitter for much of the season and was a candidate for National League MVP. He was hitting .346, the second-best batting average in the league behind Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutcheon, who was batting .356 through Saturday.
Cabrera also leads the NL with 159 hits and had 11 home runs, 60 RBI, a .390 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage.
Juan Nunez, who was called a paid consultant of Cabrera's agents, allegedly purchased a fraudulent website for $10,000 in July to try to prove the outfielder bought the testosterone from a source he thought was legit. Cabrera allegedly wanted it to appear he had ordered a supplement that caused a positive test. A clause in the MLB's collectively bargained drug program gives a player wiggle room to prove he inadvertently took a banned substance.
The website was part of Cabrera's defense that he was not responsible for his positive test. The meeting, which included Cabrera's agents, MLB officials and Players Association representatives, occurred before the outfielder was handed a 50-game suspension.
MLB officials, who quickly began asking questions, determined the website was promoting a topical cream that didn't exist.
"There was a product they said caused this positive," a source familiar with the case told the Daily News. "Baseball figured out the ruse pretty quickly."
Nunez told the Daily News he accepted responsibility for the fake website and said Sam and Seth Levinson, Cabrera's agents, were not involved in the scheme.
"Sam and I absolutely had no knowledge or dealings with anyone at anytime associated with the website," Seth Levinson told the Daily News via email. "I will state unequivocally and irrefutably that any payment made to the website does not come from ACES (their New York-based sports agency, Athletes' Career Enhanced and Secured Inc.)"
The Daily News reported the case has rekindled a federal investigators' probe into other ballplayers who may be using banned substances.