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Last week, the biggest mystery surrounding the Melky Cabrera steroid suspension was what it would do to the San Francisco Giants’ playoff run.
Now the question is whether Cabrera, more than a decade after BALCO, has turned the Giants’ clubhouse into a crime scene.
As a Daily News exclusive investigation reported on Sunday, Cabrera and at least one of his associates launched a fictitious website featuring a nonexistent sports cream last month in an attempt to beat his positive test for elevated levels of testosterone.
The website is gone, but its creation may have left a digital trail for federal law enforcement to follow into the sport’s resilient doping subculture.
And Major League Baseball is happy for the help from the feds.
Fearful that players who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs are playing games with the league’s collectively-bargained drug program, baseball officials have welcomed federal investigators as they attempt to find out who was involved in the scam.
The commissioner’s office is as eager as law enforcement to discover the source for the banned and illegal drug Cabrera tested positive for, and whether a crime was committed in the attempt to create false evidence.
The bizarre scam has attracted the attention of investigators from multiple federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration steroid cop Jeff Novitzky, who uncovered the BALCO doping ring in Burlingame, Calif., and disrupted the steroid distribution ring Kirk Radomski ran out of his Long Island home. Working alongside the feds is a team from MLB’s Department of Investigations, created in 2008 at the recommendation of former Sen. George Mitchell, who wrote in his 2007 report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball that the league needed an internal investigative team to identify areas where the sport was vulnerable to corruption.
“There’s a new regime and a new way of doing things in Major League Baseball,” one source familiar with the case told the Daily News, referring to the cooperation between law enforcement and baseball’s DOI, led by former New York City cop Dan Mullin.
As The News reported, Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, described by Cabrera’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” of their firm, accepted sole responsibility for creating the website, saying the agents had nothing to do with the scheme.
Baseball and the feds, however, are looking for anyone else who might have conspired in creating a site that was available to anyone with an Internet connection, at least briefly.
Beyond possible conspiracy charges lie several other possibilities. “There are several agencies that could be interested, depending how this plays out,” said New York attorney Tom Harvey, including the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission, depending on how the ad was presented and what it said.
“If anyone else had anything whatsoever to do with putting up a fake website and a fake product, they should have substantial concerns, and there certainly could be criminal exposure, especially on a conspiracy count.”