On Thursday night, I’m catching up with some sort of response by World Wrestling Entertainment to the excellent article in Sunday editions of Hearst newspapers — in which Brian Lockhart reported on the mysterious dribbling into nothingness of a 2007 Congressional committee investigation of steroid policies in pro wrestling.
Daniela Altimari has a post at the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog headlined “Five days later, WWE responds to Hearst story,” http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2010/03/five-days-later-wwe-responds-t.html.
Lockhart himself, at his Political Capitol blog for Hearst, has an item headlined “WWE responds to steroids probe story,” http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/03/04/wwe-responds-to-steroids-probe-story/.
In both posts, there are quotes from Robert Zimmerman, WWE’s vice president for corporate communications and public relations. So far I can’t locate a complete verbatim statement in the obvious places, such as the company website. My tentative conclusion is that Zimmerman issued a statement just to Altimari and Lockhart. Or perhaps just to the Courant and it was forwarded by Altimari as she solicited Hearst’s rebuttal.
Lockhart writes that “a formal response [to WWE’s response] is in the hands of my editors at Hearst,” and quotes the following from Zimmerman: “WWE welcomes any and all objective, qualified and independent scrutiny of its Talent Wellness Program, which is available in its entirety at the corporate website www.corporate.wwe.com. We invite the media to compare our program to any other steroid testing program currently in place. Until the Connecticut-based Hearst Newspapers do a thorough examination of the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program, we believe readers are paying for questionable journalism.”
Altimari’s account includes these additional passages from the WWE statement:
* WWE “felt compelled to provide clear and accurate information about the company’s Talent Wellness Program and its position on steroids.”
* “The WWE agrees with Congressman Henry Waxman and the ONDCP that ‘the abuse of steroids presents a pernicious public health threat’; however the WWE vehemently disagrees with Waxman’s assertion in January 2009 that the WWE’s ‘anti-steroid program lacks independence and transparency.’”
* “Since the WWE’s Talent Wellness Program began in February 2006, the company, through independent medical third parties, tests for and strictly prohibits the use of steroids and other illegal substances. The program also monitors for cardiovascular and head trauma issues, as well as conducts annual physicals and provides healthcare referrals. WWE’s Talent Wellness Program is overseen and independently administered by well-respected doctors in their field of expertise who work with other well-known organizations such as the NFL and NHL.”
Once the full WWE statement is available, I’ll start commenting on it in detail. But I’m already confident enough that there will be grist here for days and weeks to come. So let’s go out on a limb here and proclaim this post “1st in a series.”
I’ll do three more parts tonight. Next: a quick look at that quintessence of institutional integrity – the WWE corporate spokesman.