When it was announced that San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera would be suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, the initial reactions were along the lines of “here we go again, another athlete cheating.” In baseball, it’s almost become routine to expect that some athletes are still seeking illegal ways to gain an advantage on the field.
However, what we’ve learned in the days since the suspension should be a lesson to any individual or organization that cheats, skirts regulations or otherwise gets caught red-handed breaking rules or laws. That lesson: If the evidence mounts against you and is true, admit the truth—publicly.
According to reports, Cabrera planned to launch a campaign to avoid suspension by creating a fake Web site, highlighting a product that doesn’t exist in hopes of using that as a “reason” for his positive test.
Get all that?
“The purpose was to fool MLB and the players' union, while presenting them with the Web site and resulting phony product information, into believing Cabrera had ordered a supplement fraudulently spiked with testosterone, therefore causing the positive drug test,” the New York Daily News reported.
So as the Giants’ organization, already in the middle of a stretch run of the baseball season, was preparing to deal with the reaction of Cabrera’s positive test, the PR storm went from bad to worse in no time. It was one thing for the Giants to lose a star player and have the team's season be tainted by the use of banned substances. It's another to have a player in its midst who would go the extra mile and create a fake Web site as a cover.
In PR News’ PR Measurement Guidebook, Vol. 6, Katie Paine, CEO and founder of KDPaine & Partners says: “The bottom-line measure of success in a crisis is to get the volume of noise to go down. Start tracking when the crisis happens: If the noise keeps going up, you’re doing something wrong.”
Cabrera was definitely doing something wrong—he was covering his tracks instead owning up to actions. The road back to rehabilitating his image just got longer—as did the Giants' chances of making it to October.
Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson