Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

August 2009 Archives

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that investigators who seized a list containing the names  of over 100 Major League Baseball players in their probe of the Balco matter overstepped the bounds of their search warrant, which authorized seizure of test results from only 10 players. But the major fallout from that violation -- the ongoing leaking of supposedly-confidential positive results -- is not likely to stop as a result.

The opinion by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that federal investigators clearly overstepped their bounds when, acting on information received in their probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative's steroid dealings, they executed a search warrant at the offices of Comprehensive Drug Testing in Long Beach, California, and seized a list containing names of over 100 baseball players (and many others) who had tested positive for steroids.

The investigators apparently used the information gleaned from the list to further their investigations into people well beyond the ten listed in the search warrant.
Prior Bonus Payment Means He Takes Just a 14% Pay Cut

Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth has received his penalty from the NFL. Stallworth pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter charges after he struck and killed a man while driving drunk. His guilty plea netted him a 30-day jail sentence, and he also made a financial settlement with the victim's family.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lacks the authority to send a man to jail, of course, but he struck about as hard as he could on Thursday, suspending Stallworth for the entire 2009 season, without pay. Stallworth cannot participate in any team activities until after the Super Bowl.
Coach Still Faces Potential Dismissal Under "Morals Clause"

It seems it's just about time for another of our monthly updates on the extortion case involving Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. Stories that Pitino had been the victim of an extortion attempt surfaced back in April, without any details to make sense of them.

This week, the sordid story finally starts to come into focus. Karen Sypher has been indicted for attempted extortion and for lying to the FBI. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the charges arose out of Sypher's threat to Pitino that, unless he paid her for her silence, she would go public with accusations that Pitino had twice raped her in 2003, that she became pregnant as a result, and that Pitino had given her money to have an abortion.
Pity the poor NBA.

The best, most popular basketball league on the planet was reduced to begging in court for a handout from a lowlife gambler earlier this year, and, with a big assist from the federal government, got its payoff yesterday. Or at least the promise of being entitled to a payoff.

No, money's not that tight for the NBA. There is no cash shortage, and there will probably be plenty of $15-million contracts to go around for some time to come. But the league did go to court to argue that it was a "victim" in the Tim Donaghy betting scandal, and that it was entitled to restitution from the defendants, which it was awarded yesterday.
Last month brought a Forbes report on the influence of the massive debt carried by many top European soccer clubs. Despite worldwide popularity and huge revenues from sponsorships and television licensing, many clubs do not bring in enough to keep up with the huge debts they incur trying to compete in the top leagues in Italy, Spain, and England.

The Forbes story notes that some commentators now expect a major shift in the economic model of top-flight soccer. Sports business expert Sean Hamil maintains that "the current model is reliant on high-net-worth individuals subsidizing premier league clubs as trophy assets," an arrangement he calls "unsustainable." In boom times, billionaires may actually enjoy throwing money away on a high-profile sports franchise, but in today's economic climate even the ultra-rich are thinking twice about money-losing hobbies.

A prime example of the high-debt model: Manchester United, said to be the world's most valuable sports club at $1.7 billion, but carrying an estimated $700 million in debt.