“Fraudsters” and Surveillance and Sports

Major League Baseball has said nothing about the investigation of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that led to the suspension of a number of players for something.  But if media reports are correct, Major League Baseball apparently is no different than other sports organizations which think they are some sort of sovereign state. If those media reports are correct, Major League Baseball used law enforcement techniques in MLB’s investigation of players using some sort of drugs despite the fact that Major League Baseball is a private organization and some of the information gathering included getting texts from mobile phone companies.

MLB was able to issue subpoenas through a civil suit filed against Biogenesis alleging that the Miami-based company was interfering with MLB’s business.

Major League Baseball got a court to let the civil suit proceed.

Welcome to the world of sports in 2013. There is a dark underbelly that should have both baseball fans and non-baseball fans concerned. Thirty of the world’s most prominent businessmen are using unusual techniques to spy on their employees and while baseball fans and many in the media who are covering baseball for a living are pleased that Alex Rodriguez has been caught doing something—again it is unclear just what he was caught doing but you need to take Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB’s word that it was something bad—the notion that sports leagues can get private information from mobile telephone companies should be chilling.

But getting information from those companies willingly may not be as difficult as you think. Take a look at baseball and sports marketing partners and that will give you a clue as to how easy it might be for Major League Baseball to get information.

This is all hearsay but the Associated Press got a hold of records from the Florida’s Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County and found that Major League Baseball was able to issue subpoenas to Federal Express, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, UPS and MetroPCS. According to the Associated Press some of those companies cooperated with Major League Baseball although no one went on the record to officially say that indeed there was cooperation.

Federal Express is heavily involved in sports sponsorships. FedEx is the Official Delivery Service Sponsor of the NFL, the Super Bowl, and the Pro Bowl. FedEx sponsors Joe Gibbs Racing. FedEx is the title sponsor of college football’s Orange Bowl.

FedEx is the title sponsor of Dan Snyder’s NFL Washington football team’s stadium in Maryland.

AT & T has major sports sponsorships in both the NFL and College Football, Major League Soccer and in golf. Then there is AT & T Park in San Francisco, the home stadium of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

MetroPCS is a player in sports sponsorships and was a player as a stand-alone and now has increased the company’s sports visibility following a merger with Deutsche Telekom’s  T-Mobile.

UPS has money invested in the Olympics, college sports, golf and NASCAR.

This is not to suggest that any of these companies gave up information because that is not unknown at this point but it is easy to see why that any of these companies would say yes to Major League Baseball, here are records. They have a vested interest in sports.

It appears now that fans have been conditioned by the leagues and league’s corporate media partners that all athletes are guilty of something and have to take drug tests to prove otherwise. Drug testing should not be a public sport as drug testing is a medical procedure and the confidentiality of a medical procedure should never be revealed. None of the players Major League Baseball suspended failed a drug test yet they did something. Just what? Never mind, they did something.

Yet in sports, it is an accepted practice.

There is another troubling aspect in the whole performance enhancing drug usage world. People accept a failed drug test by an athlete as evidence that the athlete is a “cheat” and that’s not quite the case. The athlete is breaking laws in some countries. In the United States, Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1990 made steroids possession without a physician’s approval illegal. So it’s not cheating, it’s criminal but sports leagues never want to label it is criminal activity because all of the corporate sponsors may pull corporate marketing dollars.

The International Olympic Committee, an entity that somehow has permanent observer status at the United Nations despite not being a sovereign nation although the IOC does have a flag, has tried to dissuade law enforcement officials from checking out places like an Olympics village for drugs. In 2005, IOC President Jacques Rogge told Italian authorities that the IOC would like to police the Olympics village and hand out punishment to athletes caught using drugs because all after it’s just cheating nothing illegal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency was really pleased with Major League Baseball’s shadow police force.

“To catch the most sophisticated intentional fraudsters, you have to use non-analytical means, which is another reason why baseball’s effort here is such a pivotal moment for the anti-doping fight,” Tygart told the media.

The phrase “intentional fraudsters” is rather interesting. Sports won’t come out and say, illegal activity although the term “fraudsters” does indicate a high level of criminal intent. But it is far better in the sports world to issue a scarlet letter and parade someone in the village square than having an athlete do a “prep walk” into a police station. Besides as Rogge pointed out in 2005, a suspension should be incentive enough not to “cheat”.

American taxpayers are footing some of the bill for sports drug testing although the World Anti-Doping Agency would prefer to keep that rather quiet. The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency went hat in hands before the French Parliament in June begging for more funding in the war against elite athletes using performance enhancing drugs.

John Fahey told French legislators that the group can’t do any real substantive work with a budget of just $28 million US annually and his group needs more money.

Fahey gave a statement to the French elected officials that should have raised eyebrows begging for some Euros.

“It’s not realistic. If you want to protect the health of our young athletes and the dreams of everyone who plays sport cleanly, you’ve got to increase our sources of finance, find new direct or indirect sources.”

Fahey’s statement raises an interesting question. Sports owners, organizations have never really claimed drug testing is about protecting the health of athletes. If you really look at sports, particularly football in the United States, players are meat on the hoof. Once the player is used up, the player has put on the scrap heap. Some former NFL players have severe injuries from their days as a player and have fallen into the social safety net and are on Social Security Insurance or disability and Medicare long before their time. The NFL and the National Football League Players Association have no real interest in those former players. So is Fahey correct in wanting to protect the health of the athletes or is there a more cynical reason to clean up the sport?

That being the health of the most important aspect of the business? Protecting the logo? Back on April Fool’s Day, 1987, then Major League Baseball Commissioner told this reporter that the most important part of a team, a league is the logo and you go all out protecting the logo.

Why? The logo brings in money.

WADA gets funding from the Olympics movement and from taxpayers around the globe. It’s not much but taxpayers are paying for drug testing of elite athletes. There is so much money in sports from ticket sales, television and corporate support that WADA should be able to get money from sports leagues and organizations globally –not taxpayers.

But Fahey has his hand out.

There are details in the Biogenesis saga that need to be made public and the only way that can happen is if Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez go to court and have a judge and jury review the case. Meanwhile, the United States is now investigating Biogenesis after initially ignoring the anti-aging clinic. Perhaps some details will eventually officially come out instead of the well placed leaks to certain sports media members by some camp.

There is a right to know actually. So much of Major League Baseball’s finances come from two strategic moves in the 1980s by the federal government. The Cable TV Act of 1984 created an environment where sports could get onto basic expanded tiers around the country and establish money machines for sports telecasts and the 1986 federal tax code revision changed the formula  for municipalities paying down the debt of municipally built stadiums and arenas which allowed an owner of a team under the right circumstances to take out 92 cents out of every dollars generated by a venue for that owner’s use with the remaining eight cents on a dollar going to pay down the cost of the venue. In many areas, additional taxes were levied to pay off the stadium debt.

This is how sports operates in 2013.

Evan Weiner can be reached at evanjweiner@gmail.com. His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com and Amazon.com and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports are available at www.smashwords.com, iTunes, nook, versent books, kobo, Sony reader and Diesel.

By Evan Weiner

Major League Baseball has said nothing about the investigation of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that led to the suspension of a number of players for something.  But if media reports are correct, Major League Baseball apparently is no different than other sports organizations which think they are some sort of sovereign state. If those media reports are correct, Major League Baseball used law enforcement techniques in MLB’s investigation of players using some sort of drugs despite the fact that Major League Baseball is a private organization and some of the information gathering included getting texts from mobile phone companies.

MLB was able to issue subpoenas through a civil suit filed against Biogenesis alleging that the Miami-based company was interfering with MLB’s business.

Major League Baseball got a court to let the civil suit proceed.

Welcome to the world of sports in 2013. There is a dark underbelly that should have both baseball fans and non-baseball fans concerned. Thirty of the world’s most prominent businessmen are using unusual techniques to spy on their employees and while baseball fans and many in the media who are covering baseball for a living are pleased that Alex Rodriguez has been caught doing something—again it is unclear just what he was caught doing but you need to take Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB’s word that it was something bad—the notion that sports leagues can get private information from mobile telephone companies should be chilling.

But getting information from those companies willingly may not be as difficult as you think. Take a look at baseball and sports marketing partners and that will give you a clue as to how easy it might be for Major League Baseball to get information.

This is all hearsay but the Associated Press got a hold of records from the Florida’s Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County and found that Major League Baseball was able to issue subpoenas to Federal Express, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, UPS and MetroPCS. According to the Associated Press some of those companies cooperated with Major League Baseball although no one went on the record to officially say that indeed there was cooperation.

Federal Express is heavily involved in sports sponsorships. FedEx is the Official Delivery Service Sponsor of the NFL, the Super Bowl, and the Pro Bowl. FedEx sponsors Joe Gibbs Racing. FedEx is the title sponsor of college football’s Orange Bowl.

FedEx is the title sponsor of Dan Snyder’s NFL Washington football team’s stadium in Maryland.

AT & T has major sports sponsorships in both the NFL and College Football, Major League Soccer and in golf. Then there is AT & T Park in San Francisco, the home stadium of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

MetroPCS is a player in sports sponsorships and was a player as a stand-alone and now has increased the company’s sports visibility following a merger with Deutsche Telekom’s  T-Mobile.

UPS has money invested in the Olympics, college sports, golf and NASCAR.

This is not to suggest that any of these companies gave up information because that is not unknown at this point but it is easy to see why that any of these companies would say yes to Major League Baseball, here are records. They have a vested interest in sports.

It appears now that fans have been conditioned by the leagues and league’s corporate media partners that all athletes are guilty of something and have to take drug tests to prove otherwise. Drug testing should not be a public sport as drug testing is a medical procedure and the confidentiality of a medical procedure should never be revealed. None of the players Major League Baseball suspended failed a drug test yet they did something. Just what? Never mind, they did something.

Yet in sports, it is an accepted practice.

There is another troubling aspect in the whole performance enhancing drug usage world. People accept a failed drug test by an athlete as evidence that the athlete is a “cheat” and that’s not quite the case. The athlete is breaking laws in some countries. In the United States, Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1990 made steroids possession without a physician’s approval illegal. So it’s not cheating, it’s criminal but sports leagues never want to label it is criminal activity because all of the corporate sponsors may pull corporate marketing dollars.

The International Olympic Committee, an entity that somehow has permanent observer status at the United Nations despite not being a sovereign nation although the IOC does have a flag, has tried to dissuade law enforcement officials from checking out places like an Olympics village for drugs. In 2005, IOC President Jacques Rogge told Italian authorities that the IOC would like to police the Olympics village and hand out punishment to athletes caught using drugs because all after it’s just cheating nothing illegal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency was really pleased with Major League Baseball’s shadow police force.

“To catch the most sophisticated intentional fraudsters, you have to use non-analytical means, which is another reason why baseball’s effort here is such a pivotal moment for the anti-doping fight,” Tygart told the media.

The phrase “intentional fraudsters” is rather interesting. Sports won’t come out and say, illegal activity although the term “fraudsters” does indicate a high level of criminal intent. But it is far better in the sports world to issue a scarlet letter and parade someone in the village square than having an athlete do a “prep walk” into a police station. Besides as Rogge pointed out in 2005, a suspension should be incentive enough not to “cheat”.

American taxpayers are footing some of the bill for sports drug testing although the World Anti-Doping Agency would prefer to keep that rather quiet. The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency went hat in hands before the French Parliament in June begging for more funding in the war against elite athletes using performance enhancing drugs.

John Fahey told French legislators that the group can’t do any real substantive work with a budget of just $28 million US annually and his group needs more money.

Fahey gave a statement to the French elected officials that should have raised eyebrows begging for some Euros.

“It’s not realistic. If you want to protect the health of our young athletes and the dreams of everyone who plays sport cleanly, you’ve got to increase our sources of finance, find new direct or indirect sources.”

Fahey’s statement raises an interesting question. Sports owners, organizations have never really claimed drug testing is about protecting the health of athletes. If you really look at sports, particularly football in the United States, players are meat on the hoof. Once the player is used up, the player has put on the scrap heap. Some former NFL players have severe injuries from their days as a player and have fallen into the social safety net and are on Social Security Insurance or disability and Medicare long before their time. The NFL and the National Football League Players Association have no real interest in those former players. So is Fahey correct in wanting to protect the health of the athletes or is there a more cynical reason to clean up the sport?

That being the health of the most important aspect of the business? Protecting the logo? Back on April Fool’s Day, 1987, then Major League Baseball Commissioner told this reporter that the most important part of a team, a league is the logo and you go all out protecting the logo.

Why? The logo brings in money.

WADA gets funding from the Olympics movement and from taxpayers around the globe. It’s not much but taxpayers are paying for drug testing of elite athletes. There is so much money in sports from ticket sales, television and corporate support that WADA should be able to get money from sports leagues and organizations globally –not taxpayers.

But Fahey has his hand out.

There are details in the Biogenesis saga that need to be made public and the only way that can happen is if Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez go to court and have a judge and jury review the case. Meanwhile, the United States is now investigating Biogenesis after initially ignoring the anti-aging clinic. Perhaps some details will eventually officially come out instead of the well placed leaks to certain sports media members by some camp.

There is a right to know actually. So much of Major League Baseball’s finances come from two strategic moves in the 1980s by the federal government. The Cable TV Act of 1984 created an environment where sports could get onto basic expanded tiers around the country and establish money machines for sports telecasts and the 1986 federal tax code revision changed the formula  for municipalities paying down the debt of municipally built stadiums and arenas which allowed an owner of a team under the right circumstances to take out 92 cents out of every dollars generated by a venue for that owner’s use with the remaining eight cents on a dollar going to pay down the cost of the venue. In many areas, additional taxes were levied to pay off the stadium debt.

This is how sports operates in 2013.

Evan Weiner can be reached at evanjweiner@gmail.com. His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available at www.bickley.com and Amazon.com and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports are available at www.smashwords.com, iTunes, nook, versent books, kobo, Sony reader and Diesel.

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