April 08, 2010

A former trainer for Alex Rodriguez reportedly contacted by federal authorities in connection with an ongoing investigation of Toronto-based physician Anthony Galea denied knowing -- or ever having heard of -- Galea and said that he has not been contacted by federal investigators, much less spoken with them.

Angel Presinal, a famed but embattled trainer in the Dominican Republic, told SI.com in Spanish on Thursday, "I don't know who this man is, what skin color, eye color, nothing, and I don't want to know him. I know nothing, nothing, nothing."

When asked about a report in Thursday'sNew York Times that claims he had communicated with federal investigators working on the Galea probe, Presinal says it was a "pura mentira" (a total lie). The trainer said a major league investigator called him Thursday morning to discuss training methods and that the conversation was unrelated to Galea.

Presinal told SI.com in February that he had never heard of the substance Actovegin, a derivative of calf's blood thought to speed the healing of injuries. U.S. customs officials seized Actovegin, which is illegal to use, sell or import in the U.S. and is closely monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency, from a car driven by Galea's assistant last September at the Peace Bridge crossing near Buffalo.

A multi-agency federal investigation led by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Food and Drug Administration began on Sept. 14 after Galea's assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was stopped at the U.S.-Canadian border. A search of Catalano's car, registered to one of Galea's businesses, turned up vials of HGH, Actovegin, a BlackBerry and a laptop with client information.According to a New York Times story from last December, Catalano, who has been cooperating with Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officials, told investigators that Galea had provided performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes. Galea has denied Catalano's claim.

Rodriguez has been a client of both Galea and Presinal. The Yankees third baseman has said that Galea prescribed anti-inflammatories to him following his hip surgery last March. Rodriguez has publicly denied receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Galea.

Rodriguez has a longstanding relationship with Presinal and has worked with him sporadically over his 17-year major league career. MLB's Department of Investigations probed Rodriguez's relationship with Presinal last spring, after Rodriguez claimed that his positive steroid test in 2003 was triggered by a substance he called boli that he obtained in the Dominican Republic.

Boasting a loyal client list that has included future Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and current Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the 55-year-old Presinal is among the most sought-after trainers in the Dominican Republic, but he is also baseball's most controversial. In 2002 MLB banned Presinal, once a fixture in the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians clubhouses, from any private area in all 30 stadiums.

The ban stems from an Indians road trip to Toronto in October 2001, when Canadian Border Services officers seized a duffel bag stuffed with syringes and steroids at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. According to the Mitchell Report, Presinal told Canadian authorities that the bag "belonged to, and had been packed by, [Juan] Gonzalez," who was then playing for Cleveland. Gonzalez denied Presinal's claim. Jim Davidson, the Indians' security chief, told Mitchell investigators that upon further questioning, Presinal confessed to carrying steroids and administering them to Gonzalez. The report went on to state that Davidson told Mitchell investigators that Presinal "claimed to have assisted several other high-profile major league players in taking steroids." In interviews with George Mitchell's staff and with SI, Presinal denied knowledge of any steroid use by major league players.

"I'm once again targeted because I'm a dark-skinned Dominican," an exasperated Presinal said on Thursday. "I'm in the news all the time and I don't want to be famous. I don't want to be in the news."

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