WWE News WWE News: Big Story - Report directly links former WWE CEO Linda McMahon to tipping of WWE's infamous steroid doctor on federal investigation
Apr 9, 2010 - 11:05:27 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
After months of occupational health issues and questionable WWE TV content being generally linked to former WWE CEO Linda McMahon during her Connecticut Senate campaign, a report by Ted Mann of The New London Day directly links McMahon to tipping off former wrestling doctor George Zahorian in December 1989 that he could be facing a potential federal investigation for steroid distribution to WWE wrestlers.
Mann reported that a confidential memo sent by McMahon to then-WWF corporate executives suggested Zahorian should be contacted before federal agents approached him about his relationship to WWE. The key passage from Mann's report reads as belows:
The WWF, she wrote, should alert Dr. George T. Zahorian III that a criminal investigation could be heading his way, according to court documents reviewed by The Day.
"Although you and I discussed before about continuing to have Zahorian at our events as the doctor on call, I think that is now not a good idea," McMahon wrote in the memo. "Vince (McMahon) agreed, and would like for you to call Zahorian and to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking."
Some time that month, not long before Zahorian was arrested and charged with illegally selling steroids, federal prosecutors alleged that an unnamed Titan Sports official called the doctor and instructed him to "destroy any evidence of his contact with WWF or WWF wrestling personnel."
The report does not use the magic words "obstruction of justice" to describe how McMahon's activity could be interpreted. Instead, long-time WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt used the phrase in an attempt to refute the story.
"At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting by that last question, on this memo or otherwise," McDevitt told Mann.
In 1994, WWE (then Titan Sports) was put on trial by federal prosecutors seeking charges for alleged steroid distribution. WWE was acquitted of all charges, but the following is a key passage from George Zahorian's testimony during the trial reported in Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #288/289 that adds more background to the story reported today:
He (Zahorian) said later in 1989 he received a message to call (Pat) Patterson. When he called Patterson back, Patterson told him to call back on a pay phone. "He told me there was an investigation going on that concerned Titan Sports." Because of the investigation, he said Patterson told him he and McMahon wanted him to destroy all information of phone numbers and information on wrestlers. "He said it may be something minor, but I should be careful. He said after this was over we could meet and continue with our relationship." Zahorian said he took all records for wrestlers and put them in a storage area in the basement of his office building and eventually brought them to his lawyer's office for protective custody.
Linda McMahon was contacted for the story last week, which gave her time to form a response before the story broke. In the story, she naturally pointed to the "evolving" current Wellness Policy and WWE being acquitted of all charges related to any steroid distribution accusations that federal prosecutors presented in 1994.
"I don't pretend to remember to go back, to revisit all the aspects of that case," McMahon said. "It has been tried, acquitted, and done with, and WWE has evolved its total Health and Wellness Policy over the years, and I'm sure will continue to evolve."
According to sources, The Day's story was originally scheduled to run at the end of the weekend for reporters to react on Monday, however Politico.com ran the story on Friday evening, prompting The Day to run the story earlier than planned.
The timing works in McMahon's favor, with the potentially damaging news coming out late on a Friday evening, which is a dead zone for news. Instead of the story running on Sunday and being fresh for Monday news coverage, the story could be lost on local reporters and, as a result, not make an impact on potential Connecticut voters.
Caldwell's Analysis: The headline coming out of this story is Linda McMahon's fingerprints on a controversial issue from her past as a top WWE executive. McMahon and her expensive consultants have been able to avoid or deflect many of the controversial issues from her past, so it will be interesting to see how much this issue has an effect on her Senate campaign with a paper trail linking back to McMahon. Wrestling author Irv Muchnick added his analysis to the story tonight looking at the significance of the revelation and more background on the federal trial.
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