United States government investigators targeted World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon in a contentious and adversarial meeting that appeared to be nothing more than a steroid witch-hunt; investigators asked very few factual questions during the three-hour interrogation at the Rayburn building. David J. Leviss, Senior Investigative Counsel for the anabolic steroids., repeatedly asked McMahon for his lay opinion on the medical and pharmacological aspects of
After over two hours of dubious questioning failed to bear fruit, the House Government Reform Committee investigators attempted to salvage the interview with a last-ditch effort to implicate Vince McMahon as a user of anabolic steroids perhaps hoping they could trick him into perjuring himself. (Perjury has been a popular weapon used by federal investigators to pursue steroid users.)
The government investigators reconvened after a short break to ask McMahon about his own use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. In what appear to be hastily arranged questions, Leviss inaccurately referenced events in the 1993 case of USA v. Vincent K. McMahon in which McMahon was acquitted of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids to wrestlers. David J. Leviss, Senior Investigative Counsel, was promptly put in his place by Vince McMahon’s counsel Jerry S. McDevitt, Esq. from the Washington firm of .
LEVISS: In your trial, in the trial of Dr. George Zahorian, you admitted to having used steroids on at least one occasion.
McDEVITT: That’s false.
LEVISS: You didn’t admit to using steroids?
McDEVITT: He didn’t even testify in his trial. He didn’t have to testify in his trial. We whipped the government’s ass in 19 days without putting a witness on. Get your facts right. He didn’t testify in the trial.
The investigators for the, having been exposed as not only uninterested in statements of fact but also lacking facts relevant to their own questioning, persisted in their unabashed steroid witch-hunt by asking questions about the “perception” that Vince McMahon used steroids and his use of human growth hormone.
LEVISS: Several witnesses have shared their perception of that and they have told us that in their view this perception weakens the Wellness Policy because it creates a sense that steroid use in the WWE is tolerated. Mr. McMahon, have you used steroids since 1996?
McDEVITT: Stop. Do you have any other questions? Do you have any other questions?
Perhaps the federal investigators were unaware that attorney Jerry McDevitt likely knows more about the government’s regulatory history of anabolic steroids than the collective intelligence of the entire Congressional staff on Capitol HIll. McDevitt was responsible for the acquittal of Vince McMahon in 1993 by establishing the hypocrisy of a federal government that approved anabolic steroids and allowed pharmaceutical giants to profit handsomely by marketing steroids only to demonize them decades later as part of a quasi-morality play against doping in sports.
McDEVITT: I’m not going to allow you to harass this man. How is that pertinent to anything about whether this wellness program works? And you came in here today professing you have an open mind and you’re telling me that you didn’t have this in mind when you wrote this list? Bullshit.
Investigative counsel Levitt’s questioning was so characteristic of a witch-hunt that even a government investigator in the room took exception to the line of questioning as “inappropriate.”
Attorney Jennifer Safavian, minority professional staff for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, openly and on the record, chastised the government senior investigator Leviss for the inappropriate questioning related to McMahon’s personal use of steroids.
In an embarrassing moment for the government, Ms. Safavian acknowledged that she was unaware that such questions would be asked as part of the interrogation; Safavian’s comments gave credence to McMahon counsel’s argument that the questions were “bullshit” i.e. not asked in “good faith”. Fellow government investigators Brian Cohen and Sarah Depres attempted to diffuse the embarrassment with dubious claims that the government vetted the questions beforehand with the House Committee.
SAFAVIAN: And what you’re doing is I guess trying to get a name. I actually do think this is perhaps an inappropriate line of questioning.
LEVISS: I appreciate your view on it, but we vetted this line of questions –
SAFAVIAN: With who?
LEVISS: — and we believe that this is.
McDEVITT: You vetted this line of questioning but it didn’t make it on the list?
SAFAVIAN: I wasn’t aware of it.
LEVISS: I understand that you object to it but this question, this line of questions is a line of questions that’s important to us.
McDEVITT: Who vetted this line of questioning? When?
COHEN: It was vetted in the committee.
McDEVITT: Was it prior to sending this list, Brian?
DEPRES: No, it was not vetted prior to sending that list.
Vince McMahon and counsel Jerry McDevitt, much to Investigator David Levitt’s chagrin, persisted in their characterization of the Congressional investigation as a steroid witch-hunt.
LEVISS: …I take issue with your characterizations here and elsewhere today and yesterday about what it is the committee is trying to do with this investigation.
McDEVITT: David, I’ve been doing this for 27 years. I know when a question is adversarial and I know when it’s trying to find out facts. We’re not here to find out facts, we’re here to write a report. So we understand the dynamic of what’s going on. We understand the chairman’s prejudged it, but we’re going along with it anyway. So let’s just continue. I just wanted to put that on the record.
LEVISS: Jerry, I’m sure that we each have opinions of each other’s lawyering, but I’m going to ask you as a courtesy to stop commenting on what you think of my approach today.
McMAHON: Well, let me comment on it. I’ve already said I find it offensive. I already said that I find, you know, that Congressman Waxman’s points of view have already determined this is not a very good policy. So I suspect that the only reason you’re here today and the reason I’m here today is to substantiate that because you guys work for him. So I find this whole process to be offensive as opposed to one in terms of actually determining the facts, notwithstanding the prejudgment of the guy you work for.
McMAHON: I feel as though that this has been a complete witch hunt, and I feel as though despite what you said earlier, I think there is no question in my mind. Hopefully when the public reads this report they will keep in mind, and as best as possible I will remind them as well, not that it will matter, and as the media goes they’re only going to want to print what they want to print. But I will state once again that when the chairman of this whole thing, Waxman, determines without any testimony here today that this wellness program is full of crap, my words not his, that’s what he means, then we can only expect you guys, the minions who work for him, may only expect then that you write some sort of report that substantiates his point of view. And again I find it irresponsible for a Congressman to state something like that prior to all of this testimony, totally irresponsible. [...]
So there are so many other really good things which we’ll try to give you in terms of information you don’t have that are positives. All of this has been an attack on the company, all of this has been extraordinarily negative today. Almost every bit of it has been let’s try and getcha and it’s been negative, negative, negative.
So again I’m not expecting anything, nor should the public expect anything other than some sort of scathing report from your committee chaired by the guy who already prejudged us, Waxman. We can’t expect anything, nor can the public expect anything other than something that’s rotten coming out of this committee.
Sadly, McMahon accurately predicted the media’s response to the government investigation into anabolic steroids in professional wrestling. The media, rather than acting as independent journalists, has acted solely as an extension of the anti-steroid agenda of the federal government. I doubt that many “journalists” bothered to read the transcript of the McMahon interrogation; I would like to think there would be some outcry over the ongoing steroid witch-hunt that continues to be perpetuated by the federal government.
One would like to think that Representative Henry Waxman, the man responsible for pursuing the steroids in sports witch-hunt as Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee whose utter ignorance of anabolic steroids and steroid policy was documented in the documentary “Bigger Stronger Faster*”, would be surrounded by staffers who are more knowledgeable about the issues at hand. This may be wishful thinking. The staffer who transcribed McMahon’s testimony was unable to recognize the name of “Dianabol”, the first and probably the most popular anabolic steroids in history, when transcribing the testimony of Vince McMahon — it was transcribed as “Diablo” (sic).