Rob Stutzman, the former deputy chief of staff for communications to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and professional chef Jonathan Wheeler have filed a class-action lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and the publishers of his autobiographical books, “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and “Every Second Counts“. Stutzman and Wheeler are upset that Armstrong deceived them about the cyclist’s use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as the anabolic steroid testosterone and the oxygen-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO).
According to the lawsuit, Stuzman (and Wheeler) “would not have purchased the books had they known the true facts concerning Armstrong’s misconduct and his admitted involvement in a sports doping scandal”. Armstrong recently admitted using PEDs during all seven Tour de France victories. The Tour de France is pro cycling’s most prestigious race.
Stutzman didn’t seem to be bothered by his former boss’s history of steroid use when he worked for Governor Schwarzenegger. Stutzman didn’t display the same moral outrage at Schwarzenegger’s admitted use of anabolic steroids during his professional bodybuilding career. Stutzman’s moral compass was apparently pointing in a different direction. Schwarzenegger likely used anabolic steroids during all seven Mr. Olympia victories. The Mr. Olympia contest is pro bodybuilding’s most prestigious contest.
While Schwarzenegger has admitted using steroids, he has often been criticized for not being entirely open and honest about it.
In an interview with MESO-Rx, documentarian Chris Bell criticized Schwarzenegger for his failure to truthfully address the steroid issue especially as it related to his promotion of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic pro bodybuilding contest.
“Maybe it’s political pressure, maybe its not even the guys fault… But he’s on all these television talk shows and he’s saying we really need to do something about the drug testing in sports. He says it’s bad for the children and it sends the wrong message to the kids.
“But then I turn the channel to the Arnold Classic where he’s handing Victor Martinez the trophy. He’s saying look at this guy – he’s so big, he’s so ripped, I’m so proud of him. He’s handing him the trophy but they didn’t test Victor Martinez [for steroids]. And beyond not testing Victor Martinez, he was implicated in a steroid scandal through one of these compounding pharmacies the day before he won the Arnold Classic. So here you have a guy who’s implicated in a steroid case, who got caught selling steroids to an undercover cop three years ago, he has done jail time for it and now he’s winning the Arnold Classic with Arnold is handing him the trophy. But in another interview, Arnold is saying we need to crack down on the [steroid] testing. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand what…
“If Arnold wants to play both sides of the coin like that, it’s ok, but just don’t be surprised when someone calls you out on that. I basically call him out on that in the movie. I would love for Arnold to just stand up and say ‘hey look I did steroids and this is what it did for me – both good and bad.’ Just let me know. Talk to us. You’re the guy who did it. You did it for a long time. Now you’re in a position of power where you can speak about it. And speak about it honestly, honestly and openly…
“I just wish, like any other politician, someone would take a stand and have some balls and say what they really mean. Because I think if Arnold said what he really means about steroids. I would just like to hear him speak as himself. I don’t want to hear this slanted political view of the world as written by one of his assistants.”
Chris Bell may have unknowingly taken a shot at Stutzman for shaping Schwarzenegger’s public statements regarding steroids. After all, Stutzman took credit for overseeing press, speechwriting and public appearances for Schwarzenegger. And this must have been around the time that Stutzman read Armstrong’s book(s).
It turns out, Stutzman played an important role in Schwarzenegger’s transformation from a steroid user to an anti-steroid politician.
An example of Schwarzenegger’s “slanted political view” as crafted by Stutzman appeared in a 2003 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Stutzman, as Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign spokesman, perpetuated the claim that Schwarzenegger would never have done steroids in the past had he been aware of the side effects:
“Arnold now publicly and repeatedly condemns the use of steroids,” said Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Rob Stutzman. “If he knew then what we know now, he wouldn’t have done it.”
Schwarzenegger also released an autobiography entitled “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” that contained some questionable claims regarding anabolic steroids. Stutzman appeared to have selectively ignored this inconvenient piece of information when he chose to his class action lawsuit against Armstrong. However, it’s always possible that Stutzman did not read the book of his former boss.
In “Total Recall,” Schwarzenegger trivialized the importance of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding competition. According to Schwarzenegger, the effects of steroids were comparable to having a suntan.
“I learned to use the drugs in the final six or eight weeks leading up to a major competition,” wrote Schwarzenegger. “They could help you win, but the advantage they gave was about the same as having a good suntan.”
Schwarzenegger also claimed to have worked hard to eliminate anabolic steroids from the sport of pro bodybuilding. As plagued with PEDs as cycling has been shown to be, pro bodybuilding is truly a de facto pro-doping sport.
“Later on, after I retired from bodybuilding, drug use became a major problem in the sport. Guys were taking doses of steroids twenty times the amount of anything we took, and when human growth hormone came on the scene, things really got out of hand. There were instances where bodybuilders died. I’ve worked hard since then with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and other organizations to get drugs banned from the sport.”
As Chris Bell stated in “Bigger Stronger Faster”, Schwarzenegger has, in reality, done little to stop steroid use in bodybuilding.
After Stutzman’s involvement with the Schwarzenegger administration and its steroid controversies, it’s hard to imagine that Stutzman is truly offended by Lance Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Stutzman sent a message to Armstrong via Twitter:
Lance, it appears America hates you now.How do you like them apples?
— Rob Stutzman (@RobStutzman) January 18, 2013
At least one sports law expert didn’t think those apples had any merit. Michael McCann, director of the University of New Hampshire Law Sports & Entertainment Law Institute, replied in response to a question about the lawsuit:
@wieslawb I don’t see this lawsuit going anywhere. Yes, Armstrong was dishonest, but no one buys book with legal right that it is all true.
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) January 25, 2013