On December 14, 2007, World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon sat down with federal investigators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to testify about allegations of steroid and illegal drug use in pro wrestling.
More than a year later, that testimony has now been released (PDF), and it's a fascinating read for anyone with interest in pro wrestling, performance-enhancing drugs, or the way the federal government uses our tax dollars to conduct investigations.
The testimony was contentious from the beginning, with McMahon repeatedly saying "I don't know" when investigators pressed him to answer whether steroids are harmful. McMahon made the completely reasonable point that if the Committee wants to know about the health effects of steroids, it should probably ask the FDA, not the WWE.
Not long after that, McMahon told an investigator who was questioning him to "Stop trying to put words in my mouth."
It only got more heated, with McMahon at one point saying, "I'm insulted, quite frankly, sitting in front of you today by answering some of these ridiculous questions. I'm a businessman. I'm a good businessman. I do things legally. We're a public company. We put smiles on peoples faces all over the world. That's what we do. This is a fun business. So it seems to me that this inquiry is some sort of witch hunt."
McMahon responded to another question by saying, "I don't get your line of questioning here. I really don't. It is accusatory, and I find it offensive."
When questioned about why the WWE didn't penalize wrestlers who tested positive in the first round of testing in the organization's wellness policy, McMahon asked, "Are you trying to slap my wrists because there was some sort of, you know, provision like this? I guess that's your opinion. If that's what you want to do, go right ahead. It was a start."
The investigator replied, "Nobody is slapping anybody's wrists," to which McMahon said, "Great. Thank you very much. I don't want you to spank me on the butt either."
McMahon had three lawyers present during the interview, and at one point one of them lectured a Congressional investigator by saying, "You're not asking questions. You're giving speeches."
After that, McMahon said, "I have no idea what the question is now."
And when the investigator told McMahon, "I'd prefer you start with answering the question that I asked," McMahon shot back: "I don't care what you prefer. I'm going to answer the question the way I want to answer the question, okay? That's what I'm going to do."
Referring to comments that U.S. Rep Henry Waxman made in the media about wrestlers using steroids, McMahon said, "I'm taking great offense to that, because it says to me, basically, that this is sort of a witch hunt kind of like thing. You guys already have the answers before you even ask me the questions. If Congress Waxman says that without even having the opportunity of me to sit down here. ... I think that is stupid, okay? That is out‐and‐out stupid. ... I would expect an apology, and I am going to ask for one, just for the record, from Congressman Waxman."
There was also an odd exchange about an article that the sports writer Frank DeFord wrote about pro wrestling. McMahon brushed DeFord's article off, saying DeFord has a personal grudge against him.
"Look, I've borrowed one of Frank Deford's shoes one night," McMahon said. "He doesn't like me. ... Frank Deford wrote something derogatory. But, you know, he has no sense of humor and he doesn't like me. We were bowling one night and I borrowed one of his shoes and he never found it. And so he had to walk home in a bowling shoe and one of his others, and he was upset about that I understand. ... I also borrowed one of his wife's shoes, too."
When asked why the WWE offers counseling services to former employees, McMahon answered, "Two words. Public relations. That's it. I do not feel any sense of responsibility for anyone of whatever their age is who has passed along and has bad habits and overdoses for drugs. Sorry, I don't feel any responsibility for that. Nonetheless, that's why we're doing it. It is a magnanimous gesture."
When a government investigator suggested that McMahon had admitted using steroids at his 1994 trial for distributing steroids, McMahon's lawyer interrupted.
"He didn't even testify in his trial," McMahon's lawyer said. "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."
When the government investigator then asked McMahon if he had used steroids since 1996, McMahon's lawyer cut off the questioning. While McMahon stayed silent, his lawyer and the government investigator had an exchange that included McMahon's lawyer saying, "I'm not going to allow you to harass this man. ... 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? Bulls**t."
And that was the tone and tenor of the conversation when Mr. McMahon went to Washington.