HAVANA TIMES — Team Cuba’s hard-hitting outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, currently under contract with the Campeche Pirates of the Mexican League (LMB), has been temporarily suspended over charges that he was using a false Dominican passport. The decision came the same day as statements were issued by the LMB and the Cuban Baseball Federation on the case.
The suspension is in effect while an investigation takes place as to the legality of the passport Despaigne used to register with the Mexican League, said LMB president Plinio Escalante, reported proceso.com.mx.
Despaigne was hitting a solid .346 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 20 games with the Pirates at the time of the suspension.
Both the Campeche Pirates and Cuban Baseball Federation, the parties involved in the contracting of Despaigne to play in the LMB, issued statements denying knowledge of the irregularity.
The issue hit the news when ESPN reporter Enrique Rojas made public that Despaigne was using a false Dominican passport, quoting Iris Guaba, an official of the Dominican passport office, who said that its office had not processed a passport for Despaigne.
“It’s a common occurrence in the DR,” said Guaba. “There are mafias that use lost passports, changing the data page and selling them on the street. This player has possessed three Dominican passports, all falsified, and the one he was currently using was issued in June, 2013 under the name of a Dominican citizen,” added the official.
Mexican League president Plinio Escalante said that if the investigation shows that the passport is false, the Campeche Pirates could face a fine of 350,000 Mexican pesos and other possible sanctions.
In case the Dominican government does not wish to provide LMB with information, since it is not authorized to request it, Escalante said he would alert the Mexican Attorney General and the National Immigration Office.
Processo noted that Despaigne entered Mexico with his Cuban passport and permission from his government under an agreement between the Campeche Pirates and the Cuban Baseball Federation.
Escalante said the Pirates are obligated to clarify the situation of the ball player. He demanded that the team deliver the league a copy of the agreement signed with the Cuban government under which players from Cuba have been playing with the Pirates.
Escalante noted that LMB expects a response to its request for information from the Dominican government no later than Monday May 19.
As the scandal over Despaigne’s documents continues to grow, both the Campeche Pirates and the Cuban Baseball Federation issued statements regarding the case. We bring you our complete translation.
Statement from the board of directors of the Campeche Pirates
San Francisco de Campeche, May 15, 2014
1- The Campeche Pirates declares itself totally unaware of the facts attributable to the ambiguous statements by Dominican authorities in relation to the unlawful issuing of a passport issued in that country for Alfredo Despaigne, a baseball player who plays on our team.
2 – Cuban sports Institutions, especially the Cuban Baseball Federation, are absolutely foreign to the facts that the media have generated in the Dominican Republic published about the Cuban player.
3 – The Pirates of Campeche Club shall initiate a thorough investigation of the information spread by the media and will file a complaint against those involved if it confirms the alleged commission of an offense of forgery.
4 – The news articles published in the media are the sole responsibility of the correspondents and their sources, in this case of Dominican origin .
5 – The Campeche Pirates have not violated any Mexican law by registering players from other countries.
6 – The Campeche Pirates will respect the decisions issued in due course by the Mexican League based on the facts that are broadcast on the case.
7 – The Cuban player Alfredo Despaigne will continue playing for Campeche Pirates as he has done since joining the team in the current season.
Directors of the Organization of Campeche Pirates
Press Release from the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB)
Havana, May 15, 2014
In recent days, several media have echoed a report from ESPN.com about a fraud directly related to Cuban baseball player Alfredo Despaigne, member of the Campeche Pirates team that participates in the Mexican Baseball League (LMB).
According to ESPN, the registration of the Granma outfielder in the Mexican League was conducted using a fake passport of Dominican origin, which flagrantly violates the ethical principles of the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB), an organization that has led and oversees the development of a recruitment process of Cuban players in foreign leagues as part of the new remuneration policy for athletes and coaches.
The FCB clarifies that it has no responsibility with the presumed violation of the rules governing the registration process of players in the Mexican League. This was recognized in the press release on May 15 by the management of the Campeche Pirates, which states in its second paragraph that “Cuba Sports Institutions, especially the Baseball Federation, are absolutely foreign to the facts generated in the Dominican Republic media and have been published in relation to West Indian player. “
The statement released by the Mexican team also states that “The Pirates of Campeche Club shall initiate a thorough investigation of the facts spread by the media and will file a complaint against those involved if it confirms the alleged commission of an offense of forgery.”
The note adds that the club “will respect the decisions issued in due course by the Mexican League based on the facts” and that the Cuban player “will continue to play for the Campeche Pirates as he has done since joining the team in the current season.”
The Cuban Baseball Federation will closely monitor the development and results of the investigation to take place on the issue and will inform, at the opportune moment, whatever decision is made regarding the case.