Melky Cabrera was straightforward with the public this week, quickly admitting to a positive testosterone test and apologizing to the Giants and their fans before accepting a 50-game ban that ended his regular season.
A report from the New York Daily News on Sunday morning, however, alleges that the San Francisco Giants outfielder probably didn't have much choice after failing to deceive the league with a phony website that was created during the appeals process.
According to the newspaper, at least one member of Cabrera's camp thought manipulating technology would be an easy path to explaining the results of the test.
[Steve Henson: Cabrera's ban comes five years after Bonds' reign ended]
But like the outcome of the drug use itself — handicapping the Giants lineup in the NL West race, jeopardizing his future free-agent bargaining power — the website's construction failed miserably.
From the NYDN:
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 Daily News that he was "accepting responsibility" for the website and Cabrera's agents are trying to distance themselves from the plan. But it's hard to believe Nunez was the lone web surfer since the newspaper also reports that the website was part of Cabrera's formal explanation to MLB and the player's union.
The website ruse has reportedly brought the case more attention from the MLB's investigative unit and also an agent from the Food and Drug Administration. It's hard to imagine, though, Cabrera being bruised any further. Not only did his regular season disappear on Wednesday, but now whatever credit he got for being contrite on that day is also gone. He's gone from being a borderline MVP candidate to being nothing more than a punch line, the Stephen Glass or Jonah Lehrer of baseball.
And yes, that's a sentence I never thought I'd type.
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