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Claims That Agency Provided Clients with Performance-Enhancing Drugs & Covered-Up Failed Drug Tests

By Anthony Malky




In 2012, Juan Carlos Nunez, a former employee of the ACES sports agency, took the fall when San Francisco Giants star Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing drug.[1]  Now, Nunez is suing the ACES agency in New York Supreme Court for $3 million, alleging ACES’ founders and prominent professional baseball agents Sam and Seth Levinson pushed him to engage in misconduct and actively sought performance-enhancing drugs for the agency’s clients.[2]


After Melky Cabrera tested positive for PEDs in 2012, the ACES agency attempted to cover-up the incident by developing a fake website and product that it claimed led to the player’s failed drug test.[3]  Nunez took full responsibility for the positive test and botched cover-up, and was subsequently fired by the ACES group.[4]  Due in large part to Nunez shouldering the blame, ACES was able to escape a significant penalty from Major League Baseball.  The agency was censured but not decertified, and the Levinson brothers faced no personal penalties.[5]  The following year, several ACES clients were linked to the Biogenesis steroid scandal that resulted in the suspension of 13 big-name major leaguers including Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, and Jhonny Peralta.[6] To date, Major League Baseball has taken no additional action against the ACES agency or the Levinson brothers.


In his complaint, Nunez claims that the Levinson brothers, as part of the ACES agency “threw [Nunez] under the proverbial bus to protect their own reputation.”[7]  He alleges the Levinsons “not only were aware of their clients’ doping, but actively facilitated it.”[8]  Chief among the allegations are that the ACES agency paid a clubhouse attendant to deliver steroids to clients and demanded Nunez to provide compensation to clients as a form of bribery to sign with the agency, a violation of the MLBPA’s regulations.[9]  Additionally, Nunez claims to have evidence that the Levinsons themselves discussed Melky Cabrera’s free agency with a team’s general manager during his suspension, a violation of MLB’s tampering rules.[10]  Finally, Nunez alleges that the Levinsons “directed and orchestrated every aspect of the attempted cover-up after Cabrera tested positive for PEDs.”[11]


The Levinsons have released a statement regarding the lawsuit in which they bashed Nunez as a “convicted felon” and man who “betrayed his family, the players who trusted him and the very people who gave him an opportunity at a great life and career.”[12]  As for their former ties to multiple PED cases, the Levinson brothers continue to maintain that they have been exonerated by both the MLB Players Association and the players whom they represent.  The Levinsons claim that they will fight the lawsuit and pursue action against Nunez for any defamatory and meritless claims, seeking all available remedies that his criminal behavior has caused.[13]


Many in baseball believe this lawsuit may reveal what was, and what may still be, a systemic problem in Major League Baseball.  While the “Steroid Era” has come to pass, PED use remains prevalent in the sport.  For example, in 2016, Miami Marlins All-Star infielder Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games for PED use.[14]  Moreover, just last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star and Gold Glove award-winning outfielder, Starling Marte, received an 80-game suspension for his positive test of PEDs.[15]  This case may demonstrate that the steroid issue in baseball is not limited to just the players who test positive, but also to the agents who represent them.




[1] Chris Haft, Melky Banned 50 Games for Testosterone Use, MLB.com (Aug. 15, 2012), https://www.mlb.com/news/c-36734312

[2] USA Today, Lawsuit Alleges MLB Agents Sought PEDs For Clients and Orchestrated Cover-Up, (Feb. 13, 2018), https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2018/02/13/mlb-lawsuit-seth-sam-levinson-aces-juan-carlos-nunez-melky-cabrera/333690002/.

[3] Craig Calcaterra, Man who made fake website for Melky Cabrera sues agency for which he consulted, NBC Sports (Feb. 13, 2018), http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2018/02/13/man-who-made-fake-website-for-melky-cabrera-sues-agency-for-which-he-consulted/.

[4] USA Today, Lawsuit Alleges MLB Agents Sought PEDs For Clients and Orchestrated Cover-Up, USA Today (Feb. 13, 2018), https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2018/02/13/mlb-lawsuit-seth-sam-levinson-aces-juan-carlos-nunez-melky-cabrera/333690002/.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Craig Calcaterra, Man who made fake website for Melky Cabrera sues agency for which he consulted, NBC Sports (Feb. 13, 2018), http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2018/02/13/man-who-made-fake-website-for-melky-cabrera-sues-agency-for-which-he-consulted/

[10] Id.

[11]Id.

[12] USA Today, Lawsuit Alleges MLB Agents Sought PEDs For Clients and Orchestrated Cover-Up, USA Today  (Feb. 13, 2018), https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2018/02/13/mlb-lawsuit-seth-sam-levinson-aces-juan-carlos-nunez-melky-cabrera/333690002/.

[13] Id.

[14] Buster Olney, Marlins 2B Dee Gordon Suspended 80 Games After PEDs Violation, ESPN (Apr. 29, 2016), http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/15425125/dee-gordon-miami-marlins-banned-80-games-peds-violation

[15] Jerry Crasnick, Crushing Blow to Bucs, Baseball as Steroid Cloud Descends on Starling Marte, ESPN (Apr. 18, 2017), http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19186927/starling-marte-suspension-crushing-blow-pittsburgh-pirates-mlb.

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