Full Transcript Of Dixie Carter’s Interview With Government Officials
Reported by: Ryan Clark
Here is a transcript of an interview government officials conducted with TNA president Dixie Carter on Thursday, December 6, 2007 largely regarding steroid use in her company as well as professional wrestling. Carter also goes into great detail on the behind the scenes aspects of TNA.
You can also read the interview in PDF file form at the following link.
Mr. Cohen. This is an interview of Dixie Carter
conducted by the house committee on oversight and government
reform. This interview is part of the committee’s
investigations into the use of performance enhancing drugs
in professional wrestling.
Mr. Cohen. Ms. Carter, can you please state your full
name for the record.
Ms. Carter. Dixie Carter Salinas.
Mr. Cohen. My name is Brian Cohen. I’m a member of
the majority staff. Ms. Carter, you’re represented by
counsel. Can your counsel state your full names for the
record as well?
Mr. Cacheris. Plato Cacheris and John Hundley
representing Ms. Carter.
Mr. Cohen. Let’s have the other people in the room
identify themselves as well.
Ms. Despres. Sarah Despres with the majority staff.
Mr. Buffone. Sam Buffone, majority staff.
Ms. Safavian. Jennifer Safavian, Republican staff.
Mr. Chance. Benjamin Chance, Republican staff.
Mr. Cohen. Before beginning, I have a few standard
instructions and explanations regarding the interview to go
over. The reporter will be recording everything you say and
will make a written record of the interview. As you give
answers, please give verbal, audible answers because the
reporter obviously cannot record nods or gestures. I’m
going to ask you questions on a particular subject matter.
When I finish my questions on a specific matter, I’ll turn
to my colleagues and ask them if they have any additional
questions. We’ll make every effort not to take up any more
of your time than we need to collect the information that we
need. If you need a break at any time, please let us know
and we can step out and take a couple of minutes to rest and
relax. This is not a deposition. So you’ll not be placed
under oath. You’re required by law, however, to answer
questions from Congress truthfully. Is there any reason
you’re unable to provide truthful answers in today’s
Ms. Carter. Absolutely not.
Mr. Cacheris. I understand we’ll be given a copy -Âaccess
to the transcript to review when it is completed?
Mr. Cohen. Correct. You’ll be invited in — it is
usually 2 or 3 days?
Mr. Buffone. Within a week.
Mr. Cohen. Within a week or so, we’ll have the
transcript and we’ll invite you in to review it. You can’t
take it with you or make copies, but you can review it and
make any changes.
Mr. Cacheris. We will probably do it after, the
holidays if you don’t mind, Brian.
Mr. Cohen. I think that will work okay.
Mr. Cacheris. That will work, won’t it?
I’m almost certain it will.
I will be asking questions about several
Do you have any questions
specific documents during today’s interview. I’ll ask that
as we ask those questions, we also put those documents into
the official transcript record.
before we begin?
Ms. Carter. No, sir.
Mr. Cacheris. What is the confidentiality of this
transcript, Brian? It is obviously shared with all of you
and your members, I guess.
Mr. Cohen. We as a committee, we always have the
the committee always has the right to make these kind of
interviews public. In this case, that is decided pursuant
to committee rules. In this case, we have not made any
Mr. Cacheris. No decision?
Mr. Cohen. That’s correct.
Mr. Cacheris. Okay. All right.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q All right. We’ll begin by asking some background
questions about TNA wrestling and your role at TNA. First,
please state your current position for the record.
A I’m currently President of TNA wrestling.
Q And what are your responsibilities in that position?
A I’m ultimately responsible for everything that
happens within the company.
Q How long have you been TNA president?
A I’ve been president since the spring of 2003.
Q And can you briefly describe your professional
experience prior to your current job with TNA?
A Prior to TNA wrestling, I owned my own company in
Nashville and moved there at 26 years old and started my own
company in the music business and entertainment business and
represented a variety of different music acts and worked in
the motion picture industry some and represented a few
athletes as well mostly in the marketing, PR and promotions
side of the industry. But right before this, I was doing
management, artist management as well.
Q Okay. If you could just give us a little slightly
description of your roles and your day-to-day
responsibilities within TNA.
A I was first brought in I was offered the
opportunity to take a meeting with TNA wrestling, and quite
honestly, I was not a fan of current wrestling products, but
I knew it was a big business and so I took the meeting
anyway, and was very impressed with the people that were
there and it seemed completely out of character from what my
perception of the business was. And I took on TNA wrestling
as a client and I handled their marketing, PR and promotions
when I first started the company. It was a very, very small
served, funded company and they lost its funding weeks after
its first show quite honestly, and people only gave them
weeks to survive anyway.
So it was right on time. And then I helped them find
an investor which happened to be my family’s company out of
Dallas. It is an energy company and it was a completely
nonstrategic investment for them but they felt like, you
know, there was only one competitor in the industry and that
there was an opportunity there. And so I continued on in
that same role until the spring of 2003 when I was — I
moved into the presidency.
Q Okay. Can you walk us through the organizational
structure of TNA Wrestling?
A Currently we finally had some dollars to hire some
people to do some stuff. We have the company is — it
centers around the creative process. It is — really, we’re
scripted television. And up until just recently and in our
future plans for 2008, we’ve done nothing but be a
television production company. We didn’t tour. We held, on
average, three shows a month all for television purposes.
So under that, the biggest part of our group would be the
creative guys who write and script the television show. And
then we have the production company who — you know, the
director, the producers and the truck and then those people.
And these are all just day workers for us. But we do have a
production crew that comes in on day of show.
And we have very no, like, up until recently, one PR
person, one marketing person that we just hired earlier this
year. We have a licensing — two people in licensing. We
do our toys through Marvel, which does Spiderman and the
Incredible Hulk. We have a video coming out in May of ‘0S
with Midway. So that is a division that has grown with us
through our television exposure. Then — excuse me, one
more, International. We take our domestic television show
and then we license it internationally as well.
Q Okay. Can you describe the employment relationship
A The what relationship?
Q The employment relationship between your talent -ÂI’m
going to ask this question in two parts. First, your
creative talent. Is your creative talent, are they
full-time staff or are they brought in on a —
A No. They are all independent contractors, but we do
have a contract with them. Up until just recently, our
talent — when we first started, they were on literally four
weeks at a time and we only had a few of them because we
didn’t know how long we were going to stay in business. And
then we signed more. But because we only worked with
them if every single guy was on every show which would
never happen anyway, the most they could work would be 36
times a year with us which was on average three times a
month. But we did have them under contract just where they
could not go work for the only competitor that we would care
about, which would be the WWE, but we allowed them — there
is a multitude of other organizations, domestically and
internationally, wrestling companies that they also worked
Q Okay. So to clarify, the employment relationship
between the wrestling talent and TNA, the wrestlers are
considered independent contractors?
Q But there is contractual provisions that -ÂA
Just to prevent them from WWE.
Q And allow them to work with any other organization?
Q How many wrestlers do you currently have under
A Currently we have between 50 and 60. We just signed
a big two-hour television agreement with Spike TV which is
the biggest milestone in our companies history. So we have
just recently acquired more talent to be able to fill from
one hour to two hours worth of programming.
Q And what is the typical length of contract between
TNA and its wrestlers?
A There is not one set one, but it is as least — we
try to on ones we would like to have longer relationships
with, I belieye it is one year with two one-year options.
Some of them are under contract as show to show.
Q I was going to say, are there short-term contracts
A Very much so, yes, sir.
Q Okay. And can you give us a sense of the pay
structure for your talent? What are wrestlers typically
paid and what is the range of salaries for your wrestlers?
A This is the confidential part, but — the
confidential part, but
Mr. Cacheris. She feels it is confidential. So
I don’t think we’re asking for any
she’ll tell you to answer your question.
Ms. Carter. I have no problem you knowing, but just
the average wrestling fan.
names of individuals.
Ms. Carter. No, but they’ll know. They’ll start off
BY MR. COHEN:
Q To clarify — before you answer this question, I’ll
again reiterate what I told you at the beginning. The
committee always reserves the right to make this material
public. Of course, we’ll take your considerations into
account as we go through those deliberations.
A They are usually paid in — between — I’d say 90
percent of our talent are paid
~per show. There are a few exceptions that are paid
more than that, but that is the solid range.
Q Okay. And
A And they’re paid per appearance.
Q I was going to say the basis is per appearance.
A So it is not a lot of money. That’s why we — you
know, they do work outside as well.
Q Okay. You had started to go over this a little bit.
Can you walk us through TNA’s current schedule, how you’re
schedule is set up?
A Yes, absolutely. Up until October 4th, we had a
one-hour show on Spike TV, and we deliver a 1 hour
pay-per-view every month to, like, In-Demand and Direct TV
and DISH, where you pay $29 to get the show. On Spike TV,
when we had one show, because we were operating in the red,
we were taping two shows a day. We film at Universal
Studios in Orlando. We were taping two shows a day. So we
would film two l-hour shows. When we went to the 2-hour
format on October 4th, we couldn’t do 4 hours of taping in
one day. So now we do if we have a pay-per-view, it is
Sunday and then we’ll tape Monday, Tuesday. So they go to
Orlando and we’ll tape Sunday, Monday, Tuesday there. And
then we’ll wait 2 weeks and then come back Monday, Tuesday.
That’s on average what we do.
Q So how many shows — yoqr typical wrestler, how many
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s1′ Ira lIiflill they do in a given year?
A For us?
A The most they can do if they are on every single
show and very few are on every single show would be 64 now.
Ms. Despres. A year?
Ms. Carter. Yes, ma’am.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q And typically on a given show what — how many
wrestlers I guess it is changing a little bit because you
are going to 2 hours. But say a 2-hour show — now you’ve
got 50 to 60 on a contract. A typical 2-hour show, how may
wrestlers will YQu use?
A A typical 2-hour show, you might have as many as 40,
maybe a few more on the show where half of them or more than
half may not wrestle, but they’d be used in the scripted
story lines to further character development and things such
Q Okay. What is TNA’s annual revenue?
A This year we should do — it would be $15 million.
And I would like to check that number. I’m not —
Q And can you walk us through the sources of that
Q Just in a general sense giving us how much they
cog~ribute to the company?
A Absolutely. The licensing fee from Spike is a
majority of that. We have pay-per-view licensing and
international licensing and then we have merchandise and toy
sales and things such as that. And the first three would be
the majority of our income, you know, pretty much evenly
split. Maybe a little more in television rights.
Q Okay. And you’ve got no Live Gate component of your
revenue? It is
A Well, we’ve toured so few times, what we’d call a
house show, which is a nontelevised show. It is something
we want to do. Up until this point, we have been mostly a
television production company, but we want to get out there
and start touring. But you have to create the demand first.
It is a very expensive business. So our goal in 2008 is to
tour. And we have tested the waters in a few markets this
year before we get out there next.
Q Okay. And with regard to your television ratings,
what is TNA’s prime demographic?
A We hope our prime demographic is men 18 to 34, but
men 18 to 49 is really what Spike TV is looking for and what
we have a tendency to deliver the highest demo in.
Q Okay. Are adolescent males and adolescents in
general an important demographic for TNA?
A They are not at all to the network. Really they
just look at that 18 to 49, really 25 to 34 is their key
demo that they’re going after, you know. But to us, we’re
kind of — we call ourselves Shakespeare to the masses. So
it is really — you know, we pride ourselves on being a
family friendly show. So we’re trying to get the
grandparents back to bringing their children. Where, you
know, I would not let my children watch other product
necessarily, we try to make it where, you know, it appeals
to all ages.
Q How do you do that? What is your — how would you
describe the differences between say the WWE show and a TNA
A The pay-per-views have a rating of a TV 14. So your
pay-per-views have a tendency to go a little bit more, be a
little bit more violent in like a brutal type of match, like
a cage match or you’ll see things such as that. But on
television, we bleep out our language. We film at Universal
Studios. We are a park attraction. So if that gives you
any kind of guidelines of what we have to follow, that is
pretty much — that sums it up to me. It is us and Shrek
and Dora and Twister. So there is a little of everything in
Mr. Cohen. I’m done with this set. Anybody else have
anything you want to add?
BY MS. DESPRES:
Q Can I just go back to the demographics? One of your
sources of revenue are toys?
Q Can you describe what kind of?
A It is mostly collectibles, action figures. And I
don’t know if any of the men around this table admit to
having any. But it is really — it is more in the
collectible side where guys keep the toys and they keep them
in their boxes and then they increase in value and things
such as that. They’re not as much, you know, play toys as
more collectible items.
Q And who is the target audience for those items?
A Well, collectibles are a much older demographic. I
mean, they are probably — I mean, they are more grown men.
I mean, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s even. Have you seen the
40-Year-Old Virgin with that man that has all the toys? I
mean, that is kind of — that’s our audience.
Q And what is the pr~ce point for those?
A It just depends. Some are, like, 9.99 and some get
up to $29. They are not real expensive because they collect
in mass. I mean, those that collect have a tendency to get
everything that is out there.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you know what percentage of your viewership is in
the 13 to 18 or
A It would be 12 to 17.
A 10, 15 percent. And I’d really have to go back and
check viewership. But I know that a majority of our ratings
are 18 to 49. Actually our median age on our show since we
started two hours I think is 39 years old. And that
fluctuates each week a little bit especially since we’re
newer. Once it gets into more months, it will stay within a
year or two.
Mr. Cohen. Okay.
Ms. Safavian. I don’t have anything.
Mr. Chance. Nothing.
Mr. Cohen. All right. Next set questions is going
to be on TNA’s hiring practices.
Ms. Carter. Hiring, okay.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q How do you recruit talent for TNA?
A How do we recruit talent? There is a finite group
of wrestlers that are out there. A majority of them work
for the industry leader, obviously WWE. So you have two
options when you’re a company such as ours and that is to go
over who is not currently under contract with them or to
find new talent. And developing new talent does not
obviously sell. You know, it is not real popular and it is
not going to draw your ratings and it takes a while to
develop. So now that we have hit our 5th year mark, we
finally have a group of TNA talent that have started to gain
in popularity. Most of them are in their late 20s, early
30s. We do have several other talent that have had
especially early on in our days prior to me being president,
just whoever was out there and available. And most
eveiybody with a name has worked at a former organization
whether it be WCW, which is no longer in business or WWF or
Q Do you — just to clarify. You’ve got your stable
of talent, the talent you mentioned that has been there for
five years and it is starting to get its name. Those
were that group came from —
A The new guys?
Q Yeah. Those were — you hired those
A People that we heard about on the independent
circuit, somebody who happened to see somebody on a small
show. And When I say small, it could be anywhere from 150
to 500 people at a bingo hall, a K.C. hall, something along
those lines. But they’re standouts. I mean, our guy that
we have now came from one of our top guys who will win
the heavyweight belt, it will be one of our first big
made — our own talent. He — you know, we heard about him
up in the ring of honor circuit up in Philadelphia. And you
know here is a guy and he is big, and I don’t mean muscular
big, I just mean big and he moves like lightning and he is
really great and you should check him out.
So we’d bring him in for a dark match, which means it
is nontelevised put on before we go on to air just to see
how he does in the ring in front of people. And then you
give him a shot at losing on a show for a couple of times
and then just see if they work. But the people who write
the show and our director of talent relations, between them,
they know every single wrestler personally that is out
there. Because it is not that many people. So they’ve
either worked with them in the past or have heard of them or
know somebody who has.
Q Okay. And your second group of those that you have
brought in that have worked for
A Other organizations.
Q Other large organizations, what percent of your
talent has come from other organizations?
A Right now — this would be a guess without sitting
in front of a talent roster — 50/50.
Q Okay. And what kind —
A Which is something we’re proud of because, I mean,
we finally have gotten to a point where we can have that
many of our own guys on the show.
Q What is turnover like? I mean, how typical — a
typical year, how many of your — how much of your talent
A They don’t quit, you know, because they’re under
contract. They — it would just be if a character or a
story line is not working out. We still have a lot of guys
on our roster from the very first show. But there have been
a lot that came on, especially in those early days from my
understanding that just, you know, didn’t have the talent,
didn’t work out, had — a lot of these guys have a lot of
baggage from pre-existing relationships with other companies
and didn’t fit the mold.
Q Okay. You had mentioned the baggage that some of
your wrestlers bring. I think in the context of that kind
of baggage, can you walk us through — when you’re
considering whether to contract with a specific wrestler,
what kind of factors do you take into consideration? How is
that decision made?
A Talent is very important. You know, we are about
quality in the ring. Ours is not as much about, like, story
lines and — I mean, we do have story lines and character
development, but it is not the — the focus is not on that.
Ours is mostly on the in-ring action. So they have to be —
you know, they have to be good wrestlers. They have to have
a reputation of being easy to work with. We — having a
talent — I mean, if you get 50 men in a room and a few
women in a room at any time, it is hard and you want a happy
environment, it is a challenge, especially when, you know,
these guys have big egos and the whole thing. And we have
from the very beginning made this kind of our law, that this
is a team, you may consider it an individual sport, it is a
team and you have to have the attitude of such. And then
secondly, you know, where they are at. I mean, we have a
lot of guys on our roster who are former addicts, you know,
who have been addicted to pain medicine for obvious reasons.
And some who have had substance abuse problems in the past,
alcohol and, you know, who have cleaned up their lives and
they are now in a different part of their life and are with
us now. So we do consider, like, everything about them.
Q Okay. I was going to say specifically, do you
provide guidance to your talent scouts regarding wrestlers
who have known or suspected drug problems?
A I don’t personally, because I don’t know them
personally. But they know. I mean, it is one of those
it is an industry and it is a very unique industry. I don’t
come from this industry. I have not been a part of it very
long. It is an extremely unique industry. These people
know everything about everybody. And probably, because some
of them I — even employees worked with them at times when
they knew what they were going through, or things such as
that. So they are very aware.
Q And do you provide any guidance to your talent
scouts that some of these issues may be red flags?
A Absolutely. We don’t hire anybody who has a
problem. And — but we do hire people who are in remission,
you know, or who have gone through therapy and have cleaned
up their lives and, you know —
Q And how do you determine that they are — that
A Well, we’ve not tested them prior to them coming in.
But we do know, you know. And we do know because these
people have either been best friends with them for 10 years,
15 years and they don’t hide it. You know what I’m saying?
I mean, if people know that this person, you know, has been
on the record of doing drugs and quit for years leading up
to it or whatever.
Q What about steroids in particular? Do you provide
talent any — I ask this question — steroids — to the
extent someone has a problem with cocaine or painkillers,
that is something that I think you’re right, it can often be
an open secret.
A Very much so.
Q And people know about it. Individuals who are
taking steroids, they can be highly functional. It is not
like someone who has an addiction to different drugs. How
do you — do you provide any specific guidance with regard
to wrestlers who may be using steroids?
A In our drug policy, it says there is no steroid
you know, steroids would be coupled under prescription
medicine prescribed not by an appropriate physician.
A So that would fall under that. But you’re right, I
mean, that is the case. I mean, they would be fully
functioning. I think the look of a wrestler is your number
one ability to be able to look at somebody and tell. Our
talent — I brought them a few pictures. I don’t know if
you’d want me to show them.
Mr. Cacheris. Not now.
Ms. Carter. But our talent is they just look
different. You know what I’m saying? I have never and
would never and I profess to tell everybody that, you know,
we just want healthy, clean athletes. We don’t want
anything else. And you do not have to look like a cartoon
character. As a matter of fact, that does not fit our mold
for our company. And, you know, they — so that’s pretty
much the case.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q And again, I don’t want to harp on this issue over
again. Do you provide any specific — do you — that kind
of explanation you just provided me, do you provide that
kind of explanation or guidance to your talent scouts?
A Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I have people who
have been on steroids in the past, some for extended periods
of time, some to the point where they have no testosterone
in their body at all now. They can’t have children now.
They have a variety of medical issues that this has caused.
And not only has my director of talent relations but I’ve
had direct conversations with these people saying this is
not tolerated, it is not expected in this company, we want
you to be around when you’re 70, 80 years old. I know you,
your family, your little kids and you need to make sure that
you’re under proper care and that you’re completely taken
Q To the extent that — again, you mentioned the look
being a big tip. To the extent that one of your talent
scouts or anyone else with any organization has a suspicion
that a wrestler may be using steroids, do you instruct the
talent to inform TNA management as they — to the extent
they provide a recommendation regarding picking up that
A Absolutely. It is called — the juice is what they
call it. And they — or the gas, or I think that is the
other name that they typically call that. And — like I
said, they — like this guy is on the gas, this guy is on
the juice. You know, you wouldn’t want him, he is — that
is not who you’d want.
Q So you have had those specific conversations?
Q Do your talent scouts provide written
recommendations or —
Q — suggestions for particular individuals?
Q It is all by word of mouth?
A It is — I mean, the creative committee will call
and say — you know, either the talent relations man will
come to creative and say these wrestlers are available or
they’ve shown an interest in working here or the creative
group that writes the shows will go to him and say, hey, we
are interested in bringing in so and so. Within the last
6 months, we had a concern that there were two people that
creative wanted to bring in, that we did not have a
knowledge of them, we did not have that personal, you know,
working, personal relationship with them and wound up not
bringing in one, brought in the other and we could tell -Âwe
didn’t even need to test. We could tell right away that
he was not — would not fit the mold and would not be able
to pass a test. And he was not invited back after that
time. It was a one-time offer to come in.
Q I see. Okay. That’s actually a little bit to my
next question. To the extent that there may be questions or
rumors about a particular talent you’re considering or your
talent scouts have indicated that they have suspicions, do
you conduct background checks or any other independent
investigations that might provide insight into a particular
wrestler’s drug use?
A What we’re starting to do is if there is any doubt
on a wrestler, even if we feel like we know the situation,
we are going to go — we are in a position now where we’re
able to do it. We’re going to test regardless. We’re not
just going to test anybody that comes in if there is no
suspicion or doubt just to screen.
Q Those are future plans?
A Yes, correct. Actually we already have been doing
that this summer, looking at people that we’d bring in.
Actually there was a couple that we were going bring in that
we said there would be testing and they wound up not coming
Q So you started testing, screening this summer?
A No. We planned on it. We started talking about it
and we even — when there were a couple of new talent that
we told if you were going to come in, we’d conduct a test in
advance. Creative — one didn’t write one into it and the
other one ended up going to Mexico instead, which could have
been our answer right there.
Q Okay. Have you ever with regard to WWE talent that
comes into the — that comes into TNA, have you ever do
you ask WWE if they’ve ever tested positive for drug use or
if those wrestlers might have a drug problem?
A No. It is all public knowledge. We don’t talk to
the WWE. But it is public knowledge who is, you know, not
failed who has failed a drug policy — a drug test.
Excuse me. There was one talent in particular that had a
history of it. I don’t know if they were ever, you know,
under — I don’t know if WWE even had a drug policy back
then. And it was a very famous charismatic guy, he had
people, you know — he knew everybody in our organization,
he had been clean for over a year. This was all street
drugs. He came in and was great for a long period of time
and stumbled. And we had to suspend him and then we let him
go. He never came back and worked for us again. Absolute
right thing to do. Painful for when you don’t have any
stars and you need one, but we didn’t even question it.
Q Okay. When talent is hired at the time of hiring,
for example, do you provide any education on the risk of
drug use in general and steroid use in particular?
A Not at this we have not. We have just instituted
about a year and a half ago a talent handbook that has some
information in there. We are going to be — you know,
steroids, we do not believe, is a big problem within our
company. But regardless of that, we are trying to start
providing steroid — not just that, but preventive medicine.
We have started doing seminars on financial planning. I’ve
got guys who have made millions of dollars in their lives
who now don’t have a penny to get to the next week. So
there is a variety of when I say baggage that comes with
this, it is far beyond drugs. It is, you know, not knowing
how to manage your money, depression, bodies broken down and
things such as that.
Q Okay. You’ve been pretty open regarding the fact
that you have hired wrestlers with known or suspected drug
abuse problems. Is it —
A In their past, correct.
Q In their past?
Q If you’re considering a wrestler with a known or
suspected drug abuse problem, is the hiring process any
different for those wrestlers than those with no known
history of drug use?
A Well, the only difference would be that there is a
conversation that happens with them that says there is no
tolerance here and it will not be allowed and we expect you
to keep, you know, the good work that you have done. I
mean, honestly we are a company where we have tried to give
people second chances because it is — you know, it is a
very different type of company. I mean, we were trying to
let wrestlers know — we’ve got a guy currently right now
who was an alcoholic for many years and was sober for 4 or 5
and started drinking within the last two months. He was
sent home immediately and told that his health and the
health of his wrestlers was more important to us than
anything and he’d be paid and his job is secure but he has
to get help before he can come back.
Mr. Cohen. Okay. I’m going to — before I get to the
next set, I’ll send it around and ask if anyone has any
issues they want to raise.
Mr. Buffone. I want to clarify something.
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q You said — would any competent scout should be able
to know the wrestling — the wrestler they’re recommending,
they should know whether or not they’re using illicit drugs?
Is that your opinion?
A They absolutely should be able to know that.
Q And they should be able to know if they’re addicted
A They should know that.
Q And they shou}d be able to know if they use
A They would probably know that.
Q So most any wrestling scout should be able to -ÂA
Not just him personally. It’s not like you can
expect one guy to have all of that magic information. That
would be absolutely incorrect information. What it is is
you’d go and talk to that person’s best friend, you would
talk to the guy he has traveling with and you talk to other
people who have been in that organization with him. You
probably know family members that you’d consult with. But
he is responsible for finding and culling all of that
information together. But he himself would not know it.
Q But in the normal background check, that would go
into any scout recruiting new talent, they should be able to
find all that information and should know that before they
would come and make the recommendation to TNA?
Q Whether or not that talent has that problem?
A Uh-huh. Correct.
Q Thank you.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q And to clarify, it sounds like you rely solely upon
the information obtained by those talent scouts?
A Up until this time prior to hiring, correct. And in
the future, like I said, if there is reasonable doubt, we’ll
do something. But if there is no reasonable doubt, there is
no — we don’t believe there is any reason to test prior to
Mr. Cohen. Do you guys have anything else?
Mr. Chance. You had mentioned in the beginning looking
for talent. Was there any kind of perception that TNA might
become sort of a safe haven for those have been else where,
to come and work
Ms. Carter. I think it is the exact opposite. I think
it is — we run a very tight close-knit ship. We run only a
few shows a month and we keep a very, very tight leash on
people. One little incident and people have been sent home,
suspended or fired. And so I think it is the exact
BY MR. COHEN:
Q For the next round of questions, I’m going to
present you with an August 9, 2007 e-mail from Andy Barton
to you. This is we’ll mark this as Exhibit 1. I’ll mark
it for you.
[Carter Exhibit No. 1
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Take a minute to review it.
A I know it.
Q Who is Andy Barton and what is his responsibility at
A Andy is our senior vice president. He is
responsible for licensing and international television
distribution and has been I worked with him for many
years leading up to this, so he is somebody I have most
trust in and he has helped me research a lot on drug policy
and other companies’ drug policies and things such as that.
Q Okay. The e-mail refers to Terry. In reference to
Terry, Mr. Barton writes, is his main job facilitating
creative by getting talent creative wants on the TNA roster
who do not — I’m sorry. Let me start this again. In
reference to Terry, Mr. Barton writes is his main job
facilitating creative by getting talent creative wants on
the TNA roster who do or might have drug problems or is his
first obligation to tell you and Dean that a talent creative
wants has a drug problem and we either shouldn’t bring them
in or test them in a meaningful way prior to his joining of
the roster? Who is Terry and what is his responsibility at
A Terry Taylor is director of talent relations. And
this was the incident I actually referred to earlier from
this summer when there were two talent that creative said
that they’d like to bring in or needed for a show. And
one — there was a concern about one person because of his
physical look and we did not have anybody — you know, we
just had no history, knowledge, no one had worked with him
and he didn’t know anything about him except the judgment
that he was passing. The other one had a known substance
abuse problems. We wound up not even attempting to bring
him in. The other person is the one that we brought in and
could just tell by looking at him since no one had seen him
in a period of time that he did not fit what we’d want in
that company and he was let go.
A He wasn’t really let go because he was never hired
but he was not invited back after that show.
Q Okay. And the Dean in that e-mail is
A Dean is Dean Broadhead, and he is our CEO. What
Andy was bringing to my attention was the system that should
Q Okay. Did you reply to Mr. Barton’s e-mail?
A I was on vacation when he sent it. So I probably
called him back. And it wound up being that the one guy
didn’t come in and we said we’ll make a determination, you
know, once we can see this guy and we did.
Q Okay. And did you reply to the specific question,
to clarify the nature of Terry’s jqb?
A Absolutely. That’s why he is asking that, is that
should he have just — because talent wants somebody, you
know, should he — if he doesn’t know that background with
them, is he to do it anyway? And Andy was being — Andy is
our — our police dog when it comes to this issue. So he is
being maybe a little — I don’t know if flippant is the
right word. But he was trying to let me know that if
creative wants somebody who has by any chance some kind of
baggage if we don’t have the ability to test them out,
what do we do.
Q Did you follow up on this e-mail in any other way?
A Well, one of the guys, like I said, we never invited
in. And the other guy came for us to see him. And after
that one appearance, he was no longer there.
Q Were you concerned Mr. Barton in that e-mail
makes reference to confusion within — is sounds like to
some confusion within — among individuals who are lower in
the organization about where the organization should stand
with regard to drug use. Were you concerned that this
A No. The problem lies with the head of talent,
creative Jeff Jarrett, not — and Terry Taylor not being -ÂTerry
is not his favorite person. He thinks he is — you
know, he is not a good agent on the show, he is laying out
matches and things like that. So Terry is in essence scared
of Jeff and I think he didn’t know in this situation -Âsince
creative wanted him and he didn’t have the ability to
give him an answer of what he should do.
Q Okay. Do you know if Mr. Barton provided an answer
to Mr. Taylor about his concerns, a specific answer
A I believe it is the same thing I communicated to
Andy. And at this point on August 9th, we had testing set
up for steroids and drugs for September 10th. And if they
were going to stay, they would be subjected to the testing
within four weeks. So we knew that that was happening as
Mr. Cohen. Sam or Sarah, do you want to ask anything
about this particular e-mail?
Ms. Safavian. Can I just follow up on what you
mentioned about the testing that was beginning on September
BY MS. SAFAVIAN:
Q Did it happen?
A No, it didn’t. We did it in advance of receiving
the letter from the committees and then were advised that we
should just hold off on the testing in case we were given
certain provisions that we’d need to provide. So we were
told just to hold off until we heard back from Congress in
case there were certain things that we needed to do
Q With regard to your testing?
A With regard to testing, correct.
Q Had you notified the talent that there was going to
be this testing on September 10th?
Q So they were all aware that within a few weeks you
were going to have the testing done?
A We set it up through — we have an orthopedic
surgeon on staff with us at every show and he had set it up
through a hospital in Florida.
Q What did you end up telling the talent when you
cancelled the testing?
A That it was just being postponed.
Q Was a new date ever scheduled?
A Well, we didn’t hear back for me to come in and -Âuntil
just within the last week or two, I guess, when this
offer — when I was asked to come in. So we went ahead and
just decided we couldn’t wait. So we were just going to
schedule it within January.
Q So it is next month?
A Yeah. We just decided to go ahead and not wait and
if it wasn’t right, then we’d redo it and fix it later.
Q And did you notify the talent about the new testing
A I don’t know if they’ve been told or not yet.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q The reason that particular e-mail caught our eye was
that several witnesses interviewed by our committee have
described TNA as a refuge for WWE’s failed drug users and as
a safe haven for drug users. Are you concerned about this
A I don’t think it is a correct image at all. I
absolutely don’t think it is. We have a lot of people who
have past histories. There was a USA Today article in ’94.
And you know there are several of our guys interviewed for
that that we offered up, come down, come see our show, come
down and talk to these people. And they all had past
histories with drug abuse and prescription medicine abuse.
Q Does image concern you?
A Image concerns me tremendously. I mean, we are -Âwe
work very, very hard to be a different kind of wrestling
company, to treat our wrestlers differently, to provide them
a different lifestyle, to not put them on the road where
they beat and batter their bodies so much that they have no
option but to turn to pain medicine. It is a huge problem.
And we treat them with respect, which they’ve never gotten
before. But we also hold them accountable. And it is not a
safe haven. These guys are on a very short leash as far as
it being a family friendly show what they can do in the ring
and the image and perception of how they are. If they get
into any kind of an altercation — let’s just say boys
having fun in a bar fight, it doesn’t matter — it may not
be on our clock and they may work for a lot of other people,
but it will not be tolerated in our company.
Q So have you had instances where you’ve let wrestlers
go because of those kind of indiscretions?
A Absolutely. Absolutely. Suspended, let off shows
which means without pay. That is a form of suspension as
well for a period of time and termination. And we’ve also
had several wrestlers who we have allowed to go to rehab and
have told them that their places were safe afterwards. But
again most of this would be, you know, pain medication and
some of them — yeah, it is mostly pain medication or
Q ,I was going to ask, have there been any specific
cases where you’ve suspended or let wrestlers go because of
issues with regard to steroids or performance enhancing
Mr. Cohen. I think that is the end on this set.
Anybody else want to
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q You seem to be saying that you want to create a
place that really says you don’t you want a better kind
of wrestler and a better kind of talent who really respects
the rules and respects the laws and doesn’t get in trouble.
How does hiring Pacman Jones who was suspended by the NFL
fit into that image?
A Well, you know, in this country, I believe you’re
innocent until proven guilty. And the last I checked, you
know, most all of his incidents, several of them have been
cleared during his tenure with us and even some since then.
You know, he was available and we found a good program that
was fun for him. And we. really felt after talking to him at
length, talking to his attorneys, talking to his agent and
everything that we asked all those questions in advance
and were told, you know, this is an issue that should be
cleared up in the next period of time and, you know, if you
want to use him, you can for that reason.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q One of your other big stars, Kurt Angle, has also
been he is certainly suspected — he has been — media
reports have indicated he is a suspected drug user at the
A He has been very vocal about
Q And can you tell us when you decided to hire him,
was you have spoken about your concern about TNA’s image
and you’re concerned about being a family friendly
organization and presenting a family friendly show. What
was your thinking with regard to bringing in Mr. Angle and
how it would affect that image?
A Kurt has been very vocal in the media about his
addiction to pain medicine. And he — he was also very
vocal about his inability to be given time off to rehab.
And against the advice of doctors, he quit cold turkey.
Prior to a match, I believe, or I believe prior to right
after a big important match he had been off drugs for a
period of time, very, very unhappy with his situation. And
I hate speaking for somebody, but —
Q I asked.
A You did ask me. But he is the one to probably ask
even more so. But he had been cleared for a long period of
time. He — we met with his attorney and his agents. He
was under the care of a three legitimate doctors in the
Pittsburgh area, all of which are highly reputable. One for
preventative medicine, one for his broken neck and the other
just general — his general medicine and welfare I guess it
is. And, you know, we felt like he had, you know — he was
in a completely different place.
A And he has been very vocal since about the kind of
life he led there. But he is a different kind of person. I
mean, he takes responsibility. Just because he worked 300
days a year, he doesn’t blame the company, which I don’t
believe he should because he chose to take the paycheck, you
know. And but he has been very vocal about getting
hooked on the medicine, his inability to rehab until he
finally had to do what he —
Q Okay. Our next set is on TNA’s testing and drug
Q Your drug policy is laid out in your talent policies
and procedures handbook. We’ll mark this Exhibit 2.
[Carter Exhibit No. 2
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q I’m providing you with a copy. When was this policy
A WWE came out with a general wellness policy maybe
March 1st, maybe the last day in February of 2006 if my
memory is right. And Andy forwarded it to me within a day.
And we reviewed it and we decided that even though we were
just running the three shows a day and these guys didn’t
work for us full-time, actually worked for everybody else
for a majority of the time, we needed to, you know, put
together a formal document for them that laid out the dos
and don’ts of what they had been told in bits and pieces.
So we created this talent handbook of which a drug policy is
included in that.
Q The next exhibit — I’m going to present you with a
March 12, 2006 e-mail from Kevin Day to you.
[Carter Exhibit No. 3
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q This e-mail is from Kevin Day to you, Andy Barton -ÂA
Q Jeff Jarrett and Steve Campbell, responding to the
February 28th e-mail from Andy Barton. This we will mark as
A So then they came out with that policy on February
27th. I was close.
Q In discussing the WW wellness policy, Mr. Day states
I can like the substance of it, provided we apply our own
discipline levels to it, it seems like a good policy to it.
It seems like a good policy. Are you familiar with the WW
policy that Mr. Day liked?
Q The first draft of the policy presented to the
committee — presented to our committee — among the
documents presented to our committee, the first draft of the
policy was created on March 3rd, three days after
Mr. Barton’s original e-mail. When you initially drafted
your wellness — your talent policy, did you use that WW
wellness policy as a guide?
A I think they looked at several different
organizations’ drug testing policies and made the
determination — I think, there was conversations back and
forth about. You know, with us only working with these guys
3 days a month, what we can and cannot request of them. And
it was determined that we wanted to create a full policy but
we did not list out all the specific drugs. It was more
just prescription drugs. We did not list every prescription
drug made and things such as that. But it does, I think -Âyou
know, it covers the basics of it.
Q Okay. With regard to your final policy — and I
apologize if I’m jumping around a little bit.
A That’s okay.
Q I’ll probably — one key difference between the
final policy and WWE’s current policies, is that WWE’s
policies include provisions for support — for drug testing
for steroids while TNA’s appear not to. Why is this the
case? Why did you finally not to decide to include testing
A Well, it is a prescription drug. I mean, that would
be considered to mean a legal prescription drug.
Q So your understanding is that your current policy
Q Specific provisions that would allow testing for
A Absolutely. For anyone to use prescription drugs
Q What was the specific rationale again for -ÂA
Not listing it out?
Q It seems like a curious decision to me. If you
wanted it to be clear to your wrestlers that they were
included why not list them out?
A I just felt like — I think everybody at the time
felt like for a company of our size and where we were at and
how many days a week these people were working for us, this
was as comprehensive and included every single thing, the
WWE’s did without specifically spelling it out.
Q Did you, at any point, spell out to your wrestlers
that steroids were covered under that policy?
A Absolutely. We went through this policy with them
when they received the’handbooks and, you know, everybody
was told — we walked through it, we walked through every
one of these steps. And every wrestler that comes and signs
a contract with us gets this in advance and I believe has to
sign it, that they reviewed it with us.
Q Okay. And did you when you gave them that
policy, did you indicate there would definitely be tests at
A At this point it was to reserve the right and we’ll
test if there was suspicion.
A And since this has been enacted, we have had several
suspensions and terminations and those that have been sent
to rehab for drinking or things such as that. But no
testing was quite honestly necessary because it was obvious.
Q Okay. So .you’ve not conducted any tests under that
Q Okay. All right. I’m going to give you a March 24,
2006 draft of the policy. We’ll mark that Exhibit 4.
[Carter Exhibit No. 4
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q This draft — stipulation 5 of this draft, which
is the third page — that stipulates that TNA reserves the
right to drug test.
Q This — as we’ve walked through the chronology of
drafts we’ve been given, this is the first mention of drug
testing in any of the drafts.
A This one right here?
Q Uh-huh. This is the March 23rd draft. Can you -Âagain,
I apologize. This is a little bit specific, but the
initial e-mail that began your — the discussion your
talent policy came on February 28th. There were several
drafts in between that did not include reference to drug
testing of any kind. The reference to drug testing
includes finally, appears in the March 23rd draft. Can
you walk us through the discussions that ensued between
February 28th and the final decision to include, I guess,
the decisions not to include drug testing provisions in the
initial drafts and then the final decision that led to the
appearance of the right to drug test in this March 23rd
A I don’t think it was a decision not to drug test at
first. We never sat down and said this is our drug policy,
now let’s put it in place. We throughout this entire
policy, the entire talent handbook, we just started off with
a first draft and then we reviewed it and brought more
people in to look at it and started pulling more information
as we were doing it.
Considering how understaffed our company was at the
time for us to have even turned something around like this
was in pretty quick order and showed me that this was a
priority for our company on a very fast track. So I think
what we did is we just began to pull more policies in,
people started talking and we started adding. It was not a
conscious decision, oh, let’s leave it out at first, no,
let’s do it and there were no discussions like that had.
Q Were there any discussions before that was included
of the potential costs of drug testing or if this — the
cost of including that provision in the draft?
A It was in this — in the discussing of it?
Q As you discussed the draft, as you discussed how the
policies would turn out, was there discussions that it is
going to cost us money to drug test, it may end up with -Âare
we — we’d have to set up a testing program. We’d have
to do X, Y and Z. Were there those kind of economic
discussions that were going on about that particular
provision or provisions that were not included in drafts for
the final version?
A There have been discussion of every time we have had
to testing or physicals or things such as that, there has
always been financial discussions. Quite honestly up until,
you know, this year, we have been operating at a significant
loss. And so I’m sure that there were people talking about
how much anything costs. We talked about the cost of paper.
I mean, it was that kind of an existence for a company.
Mr. Cohen. Any other questions about the initial
development of TNA policies and procedures?
Mr. Buffone. Just to clarify.
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q Was it your understanding that testing from the
initial discussions when you first heard the WWE wellness
policy that the testing always was on the table?
A For us? Oh, absolutely. I think we decided from
the beginning we needed a policy that allows us to randomly
test people when we want and that protects us when we ask
these guys who don’t work for us full time that we want to
do this and that they have to agree to it in advance and
there are certain legal things that we need to make sure
that we cover on both sides.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q All right. The next document I’m going to provide
you with is an e-mail dated May 31, 2006.
Q This will be Exhibit 5.
[Carter Exhibit No. 5
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q This is now after the final version of the drug
policies that has gone into effect. This May 31, 2006
e-mail is from Steve Campbell to you regarding blood and
drug tests — blood and drug testing. The drug test
includes according to this e-mail marijuana, cocaine, PCP,
amphetamines and barbiturates. Did this drug testing occur?
A That drug testing did not. At this time, we were, I
believe, complying with an OSHA request from the State of
Florida if I’m — I don’t know if that — but that is my
memory from this. And we did the testing that they
requested. But again, we were not — had not made the
decision to do, you know, talentwide testing. It was based
upon reason. And — so we were complying with an OSHA, I
believe it was request.
Q So that was specific compliance testing?
A Specific compliance, correct, for the State of
Florida, I believe. That’s who did it. But it was for our
shows in Orlando.
Q The final version of the drug policy -ÂA
Do I have that?
Q Yes, that is Exhibit
Q Double 09?
Q The drug policy says TNA reserves the right to
conduct random drug tests and other tests in accordance with
Q Can you walk me through your understanding of the
meaning of that final provision “in accordance with
A When you tour, there is athletic commissions in each
State and each State has from pretty much no provisions
whatsoever to pretty strict provisions of needing full
physicals, blood work and things such as that. So those are
State government requirements, and so we wanted to make sure
that they knew that we could be asking them at any given
time to provide HIV testing and other things that would be
required of us to operate and do business.
Q It is not clear from this that you reserve the right
to conduct random drug tests outside of government
requirements. Was that made clear to the wrestlers?
A I think it is two totally different deals. One is
to conduct random drug tests and then — and other tests in
accordance with government requirements.
Q The other question is — we’re back on this
A Which document?
Q The same one.
Q Actually, let’s go back to the testing in the May
31st e-mail. This was testing — again, per your initial
previous request, this was testing that was done to meet
government requirements. Were all your — in this set of
testing, were all your — was all your talent tested?
A Yes, yes, sir. And looking at the dates on this
A — the OSHA request probably came up -ÂQ
A between this date and this, and it was — counsel
provided to us that we probably let them know in advance
that they would have do that. That looks like the timing of
that, and that’s why that was added as well.
Q Okay. This — the final version of this policy,
provision 6 of this, this refers to the Florida Department
of Health Bureau of Epidemiology’s request.
Q Is that the — was that the impetus for those May
A Yes, uh-huh.
Q Prior to your — when did you become aware of those
A At this point, that was the first time.
Q And prior to becoming aware of those requirements
and setting up the tests, the June 19th tests, were there
any plans — did TNA have any plans to conduct drug testing
under this drug policy?
A I think it says we have the right to conduct random
drug tests. I believe if I go back and read it, it does say
that if there is any suspicion then we would random drug
test. Is that the question?
Q I’m asking were there any plans to conduct the
A There had not been any suspicions; and, like I said
before, several times when there were suspicions we talked
with the talent and they were dealt with, whether it be
suspended without pay and then termination.
Q Is it your understanding that these provisions allow
you only to conduct testing if there’s suspicion?
A No, this says we can conduct random drug tests; and
that could mean the entire roster or it could mean with
Q Okay. And to clarify, though, there had not been
any plans prior to your becoming aware of —
A To test the entire roster, not at this point.
Q The Florida Department of Health —
A Not back in
Q There were no plans at that time?
BY MR BUFFONE:
Q Is it your understanding or recollection that you
learned of the Florida compliance after you learned of the
wellness policy; do you remember?
A I don’t know. The request did not come in to me. I
just remember hearing about it in that April, May. I would
assume that came in after. That may have been a reaction to
the WWE wellness policy coming out. I believe their
substance policy came out as a reaction to the Eddie
Guerrero death. So I believe when Eddie Guerrero died, I
believe they instituted the wellness policy. I think that
was the driving force behind that.
A And that may have also been the driving force in us
being requested of this information as well.
A But I don’t have that information specifically why
they requested that and when.
Mr. Buffone. All right.
BY MR COHEN:
Q Since that May of — now moving ahead a little bit
with the policy and where we stand now, have there been any
changes to TNA’s policies and procedures concerning drug use
since May of 2006?
A Yes. Actually, earlier this year, probably second
quarter, we started talking about the desire to do a more
proactive test, not because we felt that there was reason or
doubt but because we felt like, in our desire to distinguish
our company, for us to say certain things it needed to be -ÂI
needed to be able to walk into a congressional meeting and
say, hey, guys, here’s exactly what you’re looking for. You
don’t have to take my word. For us to come out there and do
some of the proactive ways in which we wanted to position
We were using the words, “the new face of professional
wrestling”. Quite honestly, our biggest challenge in
staying in business is fighting the perception of wrestling.
It’s a dirty word out there and for good reason. We have
had to go in there and try to convince people we will be
different to work with. You are working with a different
kind of people, organization. So that has been a big
challenge for us. So that was one of the reasons we felt
like earlier this year we were going to do that.
We started talking about it in executive meetings. At
first, it was discussed on starting to put that together and
wanting to institute something by the summer, and we started
talking about it. And then the Chris Benoit tragedy
happened, and we had already begun conversations prior to
Q To get a sense
A probably in the executive meetings.
There’s four people who meet in the executive meeting.
It’s Jeff Jarrett, myself, Dean Broadhead and Andy Barton.
That’s a meeting that we would have once every 2 weeks
depending upon schedules and things such as that just to
talk about every issue out there. We would talk about
talent issues, anything, any kind of staff meeting type of
We started talking about it — again, Andy and I
brought this up and just felt like — you know what?
Because I run more of the marketing side of the company
where I was wanting to go and really hit this new face
professional wrestling and try to be more aggressive with
letting people know we are different, let’s make sure we
have empirical proof to back that up. Let’s — we’re in a
position where we can do it, and we can do it on an ongoing
And so we started talking about that in probably
April — March, April, and then started really looking at
additional documents in May of what it would constitute and
then got very, very aggressive with it in the summer. But
our plans were all along from the September time period what
we had talked about from the beginning.
Mr. Buffone. Just to clarify, that’s pre the Benoit
Ms. Carter. Uh-huh. We had not set that date, but we
wanted to do it before the end of the summer.
Mr. Cohen. I’m going to move to a July 11th e-mail
from Dean Broadhead to Guy Blake. I’m going to mark that
[Carter Exhibit No. 6
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q In that e-mail, Mr. Broadhead had just announced to
TNA talent that TNA will begin drug testing on September
Q Was that announcement ever made?
A Yes, it was.
Q When and how?
A Through Terry Taylor, our director of talent
relations. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was
probably at one of the tapings shortly thereafter. We only
tape every 2 weeks, so it would have been on one of the
subsequent tapings after that.
Q And how was that — in what way did he announce that
those tests would be conducted?
A He communicated verbally with them.
Q And there was no paper, no materials, no documents?
A No. Again, at this time we, you know, were not
prepared, you know, to have a congressional investigation,
but we were trying to do the right thing. And so he
communicated with them —
A — verbally.
Q Did he indicate specifically that testing would be
conducted on September 1st or what — in what way did he
inform the talent that the tests would be conducted?
A Dean didn’t know the pro — he probably — September
1st I don’t even believe we were taping. That’s why we
chose September 10th, because it was a taping date where we
would have already had to fly in our guys live allover
the country. So, obviously, for an expense reason we wanted
to do it while they were already there. So we just knew
that we wanted to do it by September, and so that’s why he
had put that date there.
Q Okay. So at that point in August of ’07 Mr. Taylor
indicated to the TNA talent that TNA would be conducting
steroid tests in particular?
A Everything, absolutely, steroids, illegal drugs.
Q Your intention was to conduct drug tests for both
steroids and illegal drugs?
Q And who had you been contracted with?
A I believe you have that e-mail, again, I believe it
was set up through our doctor, I think Centra Care or — in
Mr. Cohen. Why don’t we introduce — we’ve got -Âthere
are two e-mails. One is dated August 8th, 2007 — is
this August 8th or August 9th? One is dated August 15th,
2007. Those are Exhibits 7 and 8.
[Carter Exhibits No. 7 and 8
Were marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q At the first page of the August 9th e-mail, it looks
like it was forwarded, an e-mail from August 8th from Terry
Taylor to Gregg Pond.
A Correct. I would assume he is with the Florida
hospital. Strategic account manager who works with
corporate groups so probably not individual patients.
Q The August 8th e-mail requests testing on ~eptember
10th, 2007, for steroids, cocaine, opiates and amphetamines?
Q Can you describe the testing that was scheduled, and
it indicates it was scheduled for September 10th?
A What had been scheduled, I believe, is what they
call a five-panel drug test, and I don’t know what all these
are, cocaine, cannabinoids, opiates, amphetamines, PCP and
Q How is this testing scheduled? Was your talent
given notification that they would be tested on September
A I’m don’t know if they were told exactly what date
it would be, but they were told that we would begin drug
testing not just with cause but the entire talent roster.
Q Okay. What did you plan do with these test results?
A Act upon them. Hopefully, they would show that
everybody was clean, but if there was a problem we would
have taken care of it.
Q In what way?
A It just depends on what came back. If it was any of
these serious problems, then I mean it would be suspension
Q And had you discussed among yourselves what — how
the policy would work?
A As far as what the results would be?
Q As far as what actions you would take depending upon
what the results showed?
A Absolutely. There would be an automatic suspension,
and then determination would be made as to whether there
would be termination as well.
Q Did you have in mind different — give an example of
steroids. How long a suspension did you have in mind for
talent who tested positive for steroids?
A Well, throughout the summer we had been talking
about what needs to — actually, we were also talking about
an administrator and things such as that that will be
providing us a lot of that information to help us put this
A So we were moving forward on this quickly because we
knew we wanted to do it.
A And 3 months was the first amount of time, I believe
from memory, that was thrown out for that, but it depended.
If it was prescribed by a doctor, you know what I’m saying,
or was it in a large amount nonprescribed by a doctor, and
we were told we would need to find out all of that
information based upon results of tests.
A That it wasn’t just as simple as getting a test
Q Was it your intention — to the extent there were
suspensions, was it your intention to make those suspensions
A Oh, absolutely, absolutely. You have to. People
I mean, I held a talent meeting with my talent in
closed doors and kicked everybody out on Monday, and 1 hour
later it was out on the Internet. So I choose to do things
proactively and publicly versus let somebody else be in
control of what’s said about us.
Q Were there provisions for therapeutic use, for
example, if there were a doctor’s prescription?
A Absolutely, and we laid that out because we knew of
specific guys in our current roster that were under a
doctor’s care for different situations
problems with massive uses of steroids
for some of our
old guys who are in their mid 40s at this point and things
such as that. We were aware of that. We were told if they
were under doctors’ care for legitimate reasons that that
would be an exemption.
Q You laid that out -~
A In this original drug policy. It says it is not a
violation of TNA policy for an independent contractor to use
medications prescribed by a licensed and treating physician
for a legitimate medical purpose, but we had to know about
Q Who is responsible for conducting reviews under that
A Meaning their own doctors?
Q Who makes the decision that it was a legitimate
doctor for a legitimate medical purpose?
A Well, Terry will talk to the talent and find out who
their doctors are and what prescriptions they are taking.
Q And Terry, to my understanding, has no medical
A No, he does not, obviously.
BY MR BUFFONE:
Q You said you mentioned a couple of times we were
told we needed to do this. Who was the, person telling you
about what you needed in the testing policy? Or what type
of people were consulting? Were you talking with lawyers
A No, what I was just referring to was an attorney
telling us, well, you cannot not allow somebody to have
you know, you can’t — can’t suspend somebody for using
something if they are under or being treated by an
appropriate doctor for a legitimate condition. So when that
test comes back, you have to make sure that they know that
that is the situation.
Q Was this an attorney who has experience and
background in testing policies?
A No, but I believe he did review several policies and
I’m of the understanding that he contacted some people and
talked about different things.
Q And have you discussed this test or testing in
January with any testing policy experts or people who do
have background in testing policies?
A Well, we’re putting an entire new drug policy in
place. It will be — I don’t know if it will be reflective
of WWE’s, but it will be much more thorough, comprehensive,
and that will be done and have to be done, obviously, by the
time that we do the testing.
Q Are you relying on experts to put that policy in
A We’ve actually contacted a couple of people, one in
particular — oh, it’s the clean sports dot org; You all
probably know the company.
Ms. Despres. Drug Free Sport?
Ms. Carter. Drug Free Sport, uh-huh.
We’ve had at least a couple of conversations with them.
And that’s one thing that I’ll ask Andy to continue to
conduct, you know, to look at. Because we have to make a
decision on an administrator and things such as that. That
is who I believe it was.
Who else do they represent, do you know?
Ms. Despres. I don’t. I mean, their name comes up all
the time in everything, but
Mr. Cohen. I think they work pretty much with high
Ms. Carter. They are pretty stringent.
Ms. Despres. I feel like they are pretty involved in
high school as well.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q The second one, Exhibit 8, the August 15th e-mail
that cancels the request for testing and states, “We are
complying with a congressional request,” some more
background on why you decided to cancel those tests?
A Well, I think again we did not know, quite honestly,
what this process would entail, if we would be given our
mandated new rules, regulations, et cetera, and wanted to be
sure and comply. And, like I said, when we did not hear
back from you after this original letter back in I don’t
know when it was originally sent to us, but when we did not
hear back for a period of time, we went ahead and decided to
go ahead and put this on the books regardless if it was
acceptable or not by this committee.
A At least to get the ball rolling on our part. We
didn’t want to delay it anymore.
Q Okay. The congressional request referenced in the
e-mail, do you know who that request was from?
A Yes, sir, actually, we received two.
A One from Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, and I believe I have the other one — I may not.
Do you remember?
Mr. Hundley. Uh-huh.
Ms. Carter. Can I ask him?
Mr. Hundley. Commerce.
Ms. Carter. Commerce.
Very similar structured letter -ÂMr.
Ms. Carter. Almost to the word.
Mr. Cohen. All right. We’re going to try to get
ourselves caught up to date. The next exhibit we will call
Exhibit 10 — 9.
Before we walk on to this, let me just ask if anyone
else has questions on anything up from the period from March
of ’07 — when the policy was put into place up through the
congressional request, any questions about what went on in
this time period.
BY MS. DESPRES:
Q I have one question about this policy that you
actually read: It is a violation of our policy for anyone
to use prescription drugs illegally. It is not a violation
for an independent contractor prescribed by a licensed and
Then it goes on to say, but the independent contractor
should notify his or her supervisor if the prescribed
medication will affect the independent contractor’s ability
to perform his or her job.
In developing that part of the policy, did you envision
that steroid use, legitimate or let’s say prescribed
steroid use would affect the independent contractor’s
ability to perform his or her job?
A Not if the doctor — that wouldn’t be my decision or
anybody in my company’s, but not if their doctor did not
think it would have any kind of symptoms or — what’s the
word I’m looking for? If by taking any kind of medication
it would cause slurring or —
A — anything that would potentially injure — that
would potentially injure that talent or put that talent in
harm’s way or another person.
Q So there is no expectation that if the talent is
using steroids that have been prescribed that they have an
obligation under this policy to inform their supervisor of
A We do know of multiple talent that we do have.
Q So talent — are they required to tell you if they
are taking —
A They are not required to. It doesn’t affect that,
but we are aware in multiple situations.
Q And how are you aware?
A Because, again, they tell us. We know when they
have certain injuries and how they are treating them — old
injuries, neck injuries and things such as that so —
Q I’m actually thinking of the steroid use. Do you
know about talent who are currently using steroids
prescribed by doctors?
A I know of one talent specific -ÂQ
A — and I know of another one that is a form of
regeneration, I believe it is.
A So that is a form of steroid, but it is not —
Q But they are not required under the policy, — under
the existing policy, they are not required to notify you?
A Under this existing policy, if it does not affect
their work, they are not required to tell us.
BY MR BUFFONE:
Q Do you know what steroids they are using, by any
A I don’t know it off the top of my head.
Q You talk about wrestlers who have been suspended,
wrestlers who have been let go, and wrestlers who have been
sent to rehab because of drug and other problems. How are
they informed? How does that process work?
A Well, most of these guys don’t have an agent,
lawyer, attorney or anybody who you would send an official
letter to. In the case where they have — we have one — I
think it is a document that you have that the names are
blanked out. It is a Hollywood person who has an agent,
attorney so we were able to send them something.
In the past, if it is just the person and they don’t
have representation, we called them up and told them.
Q So it is all done through phone calls? There are no
A No, that will not happen anymore. Everything will
be highly documented.
Q So for all the other times you sent people to
rehab when you say you “sent” people, do you pay for the
A It just depends. Sometimes they have had insurance
that has covered a rehab. We offered to continue to pay
them even though they are not on the show. That’s usually
their biggest concern, is I can’t go without money while I
do that. So that’s why these people don’t go. They are in
fear of loss of their job, which is a reality in other
places, and a fear of loss of payment, which is a reality.
So we have tried to remove those two elements to let them
know it’s okay. If something does happen and you relapse,
you need to go get help.
Q So beyond the two letters of this committee there is
no documentation at all that you have suspended wrestlers,
let wrestlers go, sent wrestlers to rehab?
A It would be documented in the Internet because
everything gets out, I would assume, somewhere along the
line. But, no, we try to keep that extremely confidential.
There is one instance in particular where I was the
only person talking — I did not tell a single other person
because of their family situation and things such as that to
BY MR CHANCE:
Q In the beginning, it wasn’t necessarily ill will in
terms of drug testing
A III will?
Q It was more or less limited by resources, in talking
about paper and things like that, but now that you have
these attractions and positive cash flow has that opened up
your options in terms of creating this more confidence in
the drug policy?
A It helps tremendously, obviously. But I think we
felt like back then we truly were a television production
company, filming three times a week, putting on a wrestling
show. And we felt like by developing a policy very, very
quickly that no other wrestling organization but the WWE
had, no other television production company had, they don’t
test their people, movie studios are not testing people who
have the chiseled bodies who you know there is a good chance
they may not be real as well. We felt like that was being
proactive in our position.
At that point, we may have been 1 or 2, maybe 2.5
percent of WWE’s revenues and maybe spending four or five or
six, seven times that just to literally pay our guys and
stay alive. So at the time we really felt proud of this
document and felt like it was something that no other
wrestling company, even those that were truly touring and
truly working their guys a lot more than ours were doing,
and we were trying to take a stand at that point.
But when we knew we were going to be signing or hoped
to sign in October a new 2-hour deal, we felt like the
resources would be there. That’s why we decided in the
summer we can bring in a medical doctor to do preventative
stuff and ask him fly him in and ask him to give us his
entire day, which we know would be in the thousands of
dollars for proactive things. We can do full screenings
instead of random screenings to back up what we wanted to
do, and that was the plan.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Why don’t you get us caught up to date now. Tell us
what your plans are and what your specific time frames are
for developing the testing program and how the program will
be run and what the penalties will be.
A We are still in development of that program. It has
got to be right. It really does. We have got to make
sure — and that’s why you go through drafts of things, and
this silly little talent policies and procedures probably
went — without the drug part of it probably went through 30
revisions to make sure that we hadn’t left anything out. I
will charge people with making sure that this is a very
tight, proactive document with everything spelled out.
Q When do you intend to put this into effect?
A It has to be in place by the time we do the testing,
which is the January time frame.
Q So you will do your testing in January?
Q The letter to the committee, the August 30th, 2007,
letter to the committee, that also mentions TNA planning to
provide seminar sessions to educate TNA talent and their
families about the use of steroids and other drugs?
Q Have those seminars taken plaGe?
A Not yet.
Q When will they take place?
A We need to schedule them. We have talked about it.
We have talked about — we have been in discussion with a
doctor who we would like to bring in who has agreed to come
in, give us a full day at his practice and conduct such
conversations. So we are hoping within the next couple of
[Carter Exhibit No. 9
was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q When did you sign the contract?
A October 4th, for the 2-hour show.
Q If you could, I think it would be helpful to maybe
get back to us with some of the specifics on who you’ve -Âyou’ve
mentioned the National Center for Drug Free Sport.
Q If you could provide us with a list of the
individuals with whom you consulted in preparing a policy
Q I think that would be helpful to us.
A We have or will consult with, right?
Q Yes. Your plans are to begin testing in January.
That’s coming up pretty quick. We’re at December 5th now?
Mr. Cacheris. Sixth.
Ms. Carter. We have been discussing this and looking
at policies since May.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Is there a new draft of a policy in place yet?
A Not anything in writing, no. We just talked about
it, except for the things we listed out and the documents,
the things we wanted to include. It will take this existing
drug policy and it will list out every specific thing on
there, which is, you know much like WWE’s.
Q Have you begun discussing with laboratories how they
would be conducting the testing?
A I would assume so, since we already had one
scheduled for September 10th. So since that had already
been scheduled, I would assume they had talked about it. I
did not actually set that up, so I would not know at any
level exactly the details of how that was done.
A But it was going to be done in Orlando when
everybody was present at one time.
Q I would ask that over the next several weeks that,
as you begin to move towards this January testing date, that
you keep the committee abreast of your plans on a fairly
Q You didn’t need to call us every hour, but to the
extent that you hit benchmarks -ÂA
Q That when you have a draft policy in place, if you
could send us that policy.
Q When you have contracted with someone to run the
program or a lab to conduct the testing, if you could let us
know about that.
Q And if you’ve got — when you inform your talent
when testing will begin, that’s another benchmark that I
think we’d like to be informed of. And then when the first
tests are actually conducted, we would appreciate knowing
A Absolutely. What we will do is, obviously, we will
put everything in writing. And in the past we haven’t had
the necessary need to present reporting to outside people.
It was more a matter of making sure it was done. But it’s
important to me personally, it’s important to my company
that — you talk about we are a different kind of company.
Well, how can you be if — for you to even throw the word
out that we’re a safe haven is offensive, and we need to
make sure that perceptions of people on the outside and
those not with some kind of an agenda who might be talking
about us who have or want to work with us or something along
those lines — so it is important that we now have the
More than anything else, we are now going to start
touring, and w~ have that obligation to do so. We were
trying to give ourselves that obligation, even though we
were with them three times a month.
There are some serious issues in wrestling way beyond
steroids, you know, based upon the number of days these guys
work, pain pills, what’s causing these guys to die. You
know, all of those, you know, would be great if we can begin
working together to change that image, that’s a positive for
Q I’ve asked this question generally, so I apologize
if I’m being a bit redundant —
A Then I’m not answering it properly, obviously.
Q No, I may not have asked the question correctly. I
asked for a specific timeframe about the policy itself.
Again, I think through the fact that if you’re going to
start testing in January, time must be running pretty short.
I assume you feel you are under some sort of pressure to get
this written policy done. Do you have a specific deadline
that you have for the written policy?
A By the time we conduct the test, we need to be able
to hand it to them and let them know.
BY MR BUFFONE:
Q So are you okay with handing the talent the policy
the day of testing?
A Uh-huh. They will be told, obviously, in advance
that we are going to do that. We will tell them what we’ll
test for, but they don’t need — I mean, they can all think
they are being terminated, as far as I’m concerned, if they
fail it. The specifics of it are not as important to me as
it will be to them to know.
Q Some of the specifics of the test, have you
discussed what drugs you are going to test for?
A From my understanding, we are testing the panel 5 or
the 5 panel and steroids.
Q Have you been part of the — I’m guessing you’ve
been a part of the discussions of developing the policy?
Q But do you know of steroids — there are a lot of
different types of steroids. Has there been a discussion of
which steroids you will test for?
A It is my understanding that the steroids we’re
testing for there’s a variety of them, all of them. I
understand Marion Jones went for Olympic medals and still
had that happen. But from my understanding the steroid test
we’re taking is very thorough.
A I think it is four times the cost of the panel 5
test, so I think it does cover multiple potentials”.
Q Have you discussed collection process of the sample,
how you are actually going to get the sample?
A From my understanding, the way we have done the ones
in the past is they would come to Terry Taylor and only be
discussed within a certain amount of people within the
company, that it is privileged information, but they will
Q Do you recall any conversations about who will
collect the sample?
A This outside company in Florida. I believe it was
Centra Care is the name of the company.
A They have a team who does this for large groups, not
individual patients who come in.
A They would be collecting the sample, doing the
testing and then providing us the results.
Q You mentioned before that Terry Taylor would look at
the prescriptions. Have you had any discussions about
exactly the process of determining whether a prescription is
by a treating physician for a valid medical purpose?
A What will happen is by this date — what we were
going to do in September is anything that might potentially
show up in this testing they need to provide us their proof
from a doctor under his letterhead and things such as that
and we will check out the doctors to make sure, not us
personally, but have somebody who is a physician check out
Q You do expect a medical physician to check out the
A Absolutely, absolutely. That’s not something that
Terry Taylor or any of us would ever try to handle.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you have any plans to conduct blood testing to
test for human growth hormone?
A We have done blood testing. I don’t know we’ve
we’ve conducted thorough blood testing, but I don’t know if
it tested for that or not. I don’t believe so.
Mr. Hundley. I don’t think so.
BY MR BUFFONE:
Q Do you plan to do a lot of Internet pharmacy
A I don’t know if that’s been discussed. I know that
out of all the listings of the Internet names that have come
out none of those are on our roster that have been active
with us have ever received any Internet drugs whatsoever,
not even drugs that would be from these pharmacies that
would be legitimate. Again, if that would have been, we
would have immediately had testing on that person and then
reacted based upon that test.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Is there plans to conduct continuous testing or is
this a single testing?
A No, this will be ongoing. The word “proactive” is
where we will be. We want this to be — again, we’re not
the industry leader at all, but this is something we can be
an industry leader in. We have talked about having some of
our younger, healthy guys, our good-looking healthy guys do
PSAs about drug abuse and steroids that we could go to Spike
with and see if every network gets a certain amount of PSA
time, that if we provided something like that that that’s
something where we could take a strong leadership position
in. But we would want to make sure that we’ve got all the
documentation in writing to make sure that we don’t open
ourselves up for any questions.
Do you have a budget figure in mind? It sounds like
you guys watch your budget pretty carefully.
A We can breathe right now, so it’s a lot different.
I’m pretty sure that it will be costly, but it is a cost
that we’re willing to and have the means now to be able to
spend on it. You know, it has to be completely
comprehensive, and I’m sure that we’ll find the right way to
Q Have you thought through — is there a budget figure
A I think on an ongoing basis this is 200, $250 per
person. So you’re talking times 50 or 60 a couple times per
year, and then we will continue if there is a cause to
random drug test. I think now, based upon this hearing and
things such as that, even if we are aware somebody is doing
something, we will probably go to the extent of making sure.
Q Okay. You had mentioned the signature pharmacy
case, the 11 — there has been 11 wrestlers, there has been
any number of professional baseball, football players whose
names have come out in relation to that.
Q Have you been contacted at all by the Albany
District Attorney’s office?
Q Regarding the signature pharmacy case?
A We’ve had no names on the list. Kurt Angle’s name
was on the list for something I believe in 2004, but that
has been — he didn’t join us until October, November, 2006.
Q Did you make any efforts to reach out to the
signature pharmacy I’m sorry, to the Albany District
Attorney regarding the signature pharmacy case?
A No. I don’t know what reason we would have had to
Mr. Cohen. I’m going to turn I think to an August
24th, 2007, e-mail from Matt Conway. It is a fax from Matt
Conway to Steve Campbell. We will call that Exhibit 10.
[Carter Exhibit No. 10
Was marked for identification.]
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Who is Matt Conway?
A Matt Conway works for Andy. And again when these
multiple lists of all of these wrestlers have come out they
have been listed anywhere from 60 to 120, I believe. And I
don’t know if there is a definitive list. They are not
all — there is a lot of multitude of reasons for death
besides drug on this list. But Andy had asked Matt to go
back and look at every single show line-up that we had, and
if anybody even made an appearance on our show who — if any
of those would have been on the most extensive of lists that
are public —
Q What was your response to this list? Was this
passed up to you?
A Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
Q What’s your response?
A Well, I went through and reviewed each talent and
what the individual situation was per person; and I would be
happy to lead you through that.
Q No, that’s okay. I’m just curious.
Have you spoken to your wrestlers? Are they
concerned about — there has been a lot of talk in the
media. To what extent has it filtered down to the wrestlers
themselves? Are they saying we have a real problem here
that we need to fix? Do they not want to talk about it?
What is the sense you get from your talent regarding the
concerns about the lifestyle —
A That’s a very good question.
Q — and what causes it?
A That’s a very good question. I think that you would
have a different answer for the guys in their 40s than you
would for the 20 somethings, the newer guys who are in the
business. The 40 somethings are those that some of them do
have baggage and who have experienced — I think the ’80s
was a time of great indulgence of drugs and of steroids.
Almost every talent to a fault was of the cartoonish
physique, and it was pretty much expected that that’s how
you got your place in the business at that time, so I think
it ran rampant.
A majority of people on that list, in the talents’
perception, were mid — very few really, really top names
like Eddie Guerrero or Chris Benoit, and they believed that
these guys didn’t make a lot of money.
If you think I’m paying guys 400 today now, that’s like
big potatoes compared to what they made back then, and they
worked 300 — crazy amount of days just to stay by. They
were all in a tremendous amount of physical pain, that there
was a cycle that is common that they are aware of, that is,
the pain medicines to be able to wrestle, the Somas, which I
believe are the muscle relaxers for afterwards and then the
Vicodin or something to be able to sleep. And it is that
trifecta when combined with alcohol or some other things
that have caused the majority of these deaths.
If you ask them almost to the personnel today is
absolutely night and day difference from what these guys who
are dying so young went through. And I have had — with our
new talent, it is just a breath of fresh air, because this
is foreign to them.
But the guys who are in their 40s who knew a lot of
these guys and actually worked with them, and many of them
had problems themselves, that’s what they say. And that’s
what they feel like the real travesty is, this schedule. It
creates a perpetual problem that puts these guys in a
tailspin. And then you combine it when their 15 minutes of
fame is over, they weren’t that famous to begin with, they
didn’t save any money, they are depressed as hell, and it is
a sad existence. It really is. It is tragic.
Q This is probably a question that probably affects
your younger wrestlers at TNA more than almost anyone. With
baseball, when we looked at the stars of Major League
Baseball you hear that the most — kind of the saddest
stories we heard were the players who didn’t quite make it,
who were clean and didn’t quite make it and got stuck in
triple A and looked and saw their peers and their colleagues
who they were clean and they were just as good or better
than, and they saw those ~eople cheat and they saw them get
a leg up.
In some ways, it seems like TNA — some of the TNA
wrestlers might be in the same position. They haven’t made
it to the big time yet. They want to get there, and they
see and have the sense that there’s people who aren’t as
good as them, aren’t as talented as them, who are making it
because they are cheating or they are using steroids. Have
you heard from your wrestlers or is there a concern for some
of them that there needs to be a policy so that they — to
protect the good guys?
A I think you just drew the perfect distinction that,
in baseball, steroids is a performance enhancer; in
wrestling, it has nothing to do with your performance and,
in fact, it inhibits your performance. Because you are so
bulked up you can’t get out there and move in the ring. So
then it becomes one of a purely physical desire on their
A And they are working for a company who, if you were to go down — and I would invite all of you to come down to Orlando and come look at every one of our talent and see, and you can look at them to a fault — I don’t know if you want me to do that, but my point is they are told you don’t have to be a certain way. I have chubby, I have very chubby, I have downright fat guys that work for me, and they are accepted and they are pushed as hard as anybody else.
Their appearance in my company — and I can only speak for my company because I know I have a different perception of these guys. But, you know, there’s Shark Boy, he’s pudgy. And here is my number one brand new talent, very muscularly built not, but he is the fastest, most amazing guy in the ring that you can imagine. And he wears his drawers up to there and that’s who he is and we’re not going to change him and that’s who he was.
One of the newest guys that we signed he could stand to do some sit-ups, but he does not have to use steroids to participate.
Mr. Cacheris. The point being if there was use of steroids —
Ms. Carter. They would not look like this. We have a group called the X Division. They are young, 20 somethings guys who are — this guy went to George Mason, is a graduate student there, and he is a professional wrestler at night.
They guys don’t have to look the part. They have to be great in the ring. And that is the way that we run this company.
Even some of the famous guys, they are big and bulky
and have to wear shirts like that to cover their guts. But
he is the best talker in the business.
Mr. Cacheris. Don’t use names.
Ms. Carter. And people will know exactly who I am
talking about, just putting those two comments together.
It is an attitude and the way you run your company and
the tone you set from the ,very top to let people know that
is not not only not accepted, it’s not wanted, it is not
a part of what you have to be successful in this company.
And it is, you know, to a T, you know, and I could have
brought many more. Let me tell you these type of people
would never be successful in any other wrestling
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you feel that — I’m going to put you on the spot
a little bit.
A Yes, sir.
Q I had told you that we had some interviewees who had
stated that TNA was a haven for drug users. Do you think
that WWE is a haven for drug users? You seem to be drawing
a distinction between the types of athletes and talent you
have and the body type and the talents and body type of the
Q Do you think that WWE has a situation where, because
of either their steroid policy is failing or because it is
not tough enough or because they are looking the other way,
does — do you have to use steroids to make it in the WWE?
Do you have to create the superhuman body and superhuman
physique and cartoonish figure that’s not going to happen
A It has been more prevalent in that company, there is
no doubt. And I think history has proved that’s there’s a
lot of athletes out there who have beat the stringent drug
I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of theirs.
All I can say is that you have to — you have to back up
what you’re saying.
If I said, guys, no steroids, no steroids, we want to
be a clean company, okay. Get rid of that gut. If you
don’t put on 40 pounds, your ass is off.
You run your company like that and that’s wrong. You
say, guys, we want to be clean. We want you to be healthy.
You are fine the way you are.
I have one guy that is so upset because he is just so
chubby and can’t quit eating, but he is a wonderful guy, and
I cannot tell him any more than I have, you are okay, don’t
worry about it.
That is a difference. And I don’t have it all in
writing and I don’t have that, but that is how we run this
company, and that is very, very important to me. We’re a
close-knit group, and we are family, and we don’t want nor
desire to be that kind of company.
Q Does WWE — do your wrestlers ever move from TNA up
A We’ve had a few that have wanted to, and the main
reason is the money. We just cannot pay them
pay our guys a fraction of what they would pay.
I mean, we
actuality, to keep us out of the business
Mr. Cacheris. He’s asking from TNA. Would WWE —
Ms. Carter. Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. In
actuality, they would like to hire everyone of our talent
away from us and just pay them a lot of money and put them
in obscure places, never put them on television just to put
us out of business. And every chance they get when a
contract comes up they dangle a lot of money in front of
them. A few have taken it. Not one has seen success. They
are doing it for another reason, not to build that talent.
Competition is healthy, but some people don’t see it that
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you have a sense that any of your wrestlers think
that they need to take performance-enhancing drugs to make
it in the WWE?
A Any of my —
Q Any of your wrestlers, if they want to move over to
WWE and get the big paychecks?
A No, I think — you know, I couldn’t answer for them.
If they felt like they’d make more money, would they cross
that line? I don’t know. I would hope that they wouldn’t.
Mr. Cohen. Okay. We’re getting to the home stretch
here. I have — see if there is anybody else.
BY MR CHANCE:
Q I would going to say, spin it into a positive thing,
as a safe haven. Maybe you can consider yourself a safe
haven to save those guys from that lifestyle, that you
embrace this natural, positive, healthy type of wrestling?
A Absolutely. Everything I do is try to do that for
this company. And I do get defensive if somebody does feel
that in a negative way.
We are a place for second chances. We are a place for
people who have been kicked out on the street. There are a
couple of these people who begged us for a job who passed
away that they just didn’t have the talent or whatever,
didn’t have anything to do. They weren’t doing drugs at the
time or anything else. And, you know, a guy commits suicide
afterwards, that’s horrific and terrible.
But we want to be a place where people do have that
opportunity, a place where they can bring their kids. I
bring my kids everywhere I go. They are encouraged to bring
their kids. They don’t travel a lot. We go to one
location, it is just a different environment.
And I can’t talk and I’ve never been a part of anybody
else’s company. All I know is to create the kind of company
that I would want myself or my kids to work for.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you think the expectations that wrestlers feel
the need to make it in the WWE affects the talent pool that
you have to draw from, that there are wrestlers that would
be good talent who might engage in activities that you
wouldn’t accept in TNA to potentially make WWE and therefore
you wouldn’t hire them in TNA?
A Oh, absolutely. Those that can’t abide by our rules
or whatever. And there are those out there. I mean, there
are some good talent that would be great roster additions
for us, but they couldn’t be. You know what I’m saying?
And so we wouldn’t — we wouldn’t want them to be a part of
Q So that image of what a wrestler is supposed to be
right now that you’re trying to work against is hurting even
wrestlers who aren’t with WWE but are just in the
independent circles, is hurting the talent pool —
A I don’t think so. I think what you are looking at
these days — all my young guys, all those came from the
independent circles and that’s what they look like. They’re
allowed to be themselves. And I’m sure there are some that
since they were a boy dreamed of being like Hulk Hogan and
looking like him and becoming a WWE wrestler. And it has
been their dream and now all the sudden here is this TNA
company and, you know, they have a choice now. And there
are a lot of WWE talent that contact us on an ongoing basis
who are in contracts, want to get out of contract because
they just cannot — it is a lifestyle. They can’t live that
lifestyle any more or they choose not to. And sometimes
they learn money is not everything. Money is notÂ· worth a
lot of things. And that is my biggest pitch to people, is
that I can’t give you the money one day, I pray that we’ll
all be successful and be able to make more money, but I can
give you a completely different environment and a different
existence. And I don’t ask for a lot. I don’t think this
is asking for a lot, to be clean, to show up, to, you know,
be a part of a team, to be good in the ring. That’s not
asking for a lot. I’m not asking them to leave their
families or to be out on the road or, you know, to do all
those other things. This is — this is an easy existence
compared to what some of them are used to. And I would
encourage you instead of just talking to wrestlers who are
no longer with companies, who have potential disgruntled
feelings, perceptions, et cetera, to maybe talk to existing
wrestlers, any of my people. Like I said, come down, et
cetera. So, you know —
Mr. Cohen. All right. We are getting to the home
stretch. Do you want to take a break?
Ms. Carter. I’m fine.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q This next set questions with regard to your general
approach to wrestlers’ health and safety and activity in the
ring. First question is actually not on wrestlers but on
referees. Where are your referees from?
A They are from allover. We — allover the country.
They’re usually referees for high school basketball, college
sports, things such as that.
Q What kind of training do they receive?
A Just the same training that you would to be a, you
know, college basketball coach or high school soccer, you
know — excuse me — referee or things such as that.
Referee, not coach.
Q Do they have any specific medical training?
A No, absolutely not. They are part of the show.
They are players in the show. They know when the guy is
going to bump, they tell them how many more minutes is left
in the match. They tell them we are running short, cut it
out a minute. They wear an earpiece and they are part of
Q Okay. Do they have the authority to end a match to
the extent there is an injury?
A Oh, absolutely. The second person right here, Chris
Candido, this was a first match on a pay-per-view. He broke
his ankle, which was obviously a serious injury and we
had — he called it. So we knew immediately that it was
real and that sometimes they even fool me. I don’t know if
somebody is really injured or if they’re just playing it up.
And, you know, the trainers were in that fast and took him
Q And do you have a ringside doctor?
A Yes, we do. We have an orthopedic surgeon who is at
every event and we have two licensed trainers that are there
as well. And we work with the guys on the preventative
stuff in advance of the show and then they are there in case
there is any kind of serious issue and then to work with
Q Okay. Do they conduct physical exams of any kind
before the show or after the show?
Q Okay. So can you walk quickly — their authorities
and their responsibilities at a match.
Q The doctors.
A — the doctors would do? They don’t have any
responsibilities in the match. They’re there to make sure
the talent would go in there, I’ve got a strained knee, I’ve
got — the big guy has sciatica problems, you know. And we
have a masseuse also that is there, a sports masseuse and
you know, so we just try to — you know, if they have any
little aches or pains going in, tape them up properly, et
cetera. And the doctor is there in case there is any kind
of serious injury and then obviously we have EMT on location
Q Is — to the extent they feel a match is
legitimately becoming dangerous and it is, do they have the
authority or the ability to stop a match? The example is
the ringside — ringside doctors in boxing who have some
authority that goes beyond what the referee in a boxing
match has to stop a match. Do your ringside doctors have
any of that authority, the ability to communicate with the
individuals inside the ring?
A Really it is us communicating to them that we have
an injury. Because if a guy goes down, whether it be a
sprained ankle, broken leg, we’ve had very, very few
injuries. Our guys — their biggest propensity to be hurt
is when they’re working independent shows against guys who
do not know how to protect them in the ring. But if there
is something, they will communicate to the referee, the
referee communicates it backstage and they’re out there, you
know, they’re right there. They just sit kind of off camera
right in the back and then they’d come in.
Q Okay. If — did they have the authority do your
doctors or do your trainers, do they have the authority — I
imagine this is pretty macho business. If someone comes in
that has got a sprained ankle, a sprained knee, you know,
they’re hurting one way or another, they probably don’t want
to admit it. Is there a procedure in place by which one of
your ringside doctors can —
Q They can say I’m looking at you and you can’t go, no
way? Can you require a wrestler to take a medical leave?
A Can you require — oh, absolutely. Just a couple of
weeks ago at a pay-per-view, the first guy I showed you, the
bigger guy injured his foot. He saw the ortho guy right
afterwards. And before we would allow him to be on the show
the next day, he had to go and get an MRI on his foot and
get a doctor clearance at the hospital.
A But obviously they are not there with those kind of
equipment, so we had to send them on to the hospital.
Q Okay. Chair shots have been a big issue for WWE.
Do TNA wrestlers take chair shots to the head?
A They do, uh-huh.
Q Are they scripted?
A Yes, they are.
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q Are these chair shots where they are putting their
arms up or are these chair shots directly to the head?
A It is a little of both. I mean, they know how to
protect themselves. You know what I’m saying? They know
how to make it look — when they slap somebody, that big
thumping slap sound that sounds like it hurts like heck, the
guys are hitting their own thighs. They know how to do
that. Like, you won’t even see and notice it. But I do
notice a few dummies that just sit there and take it and
then we have to tell them backstage you have to, you know,
put your hands up.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q How about pile drivers, unpadded surfaces are again
something that has been an issue for WWE. Are those kind of
moves scripted into TNA?
A All the moves that are done are I mean, we would
not allow any talent to do anything that is going to
jeopardize that cannot be protected. I don’t think that
there is a move if properly executed that you and I could
not potentially take. I know it sounds — I mean, we’ve had
people with absolutely no experience get in there and take
things and you just — there is a trust issue that if you
can get past that, which I can’t personally, but if you did,
you could be protected in every move out there. But you
have to know what you are doing. That is why it is very
important that these people have a clear mind in doing so.
Q How much control do you have over the matches? Is
it a case where you’re telling people we need a 6-minute
match here, you’re going to be the winner, go to work? Or
are you — do you control the entire script of a match?
A There is a psychology to the match. And it is,
okay, you’re going over on him in 6 minutes, to use your
example, and that you need to come out and. you’re trying to
get your character over. So you’re — you’re the bad guy,
so you’re beating on her and she makes a superman comeback
and then she takes you out and the audience is hooked the
whole time. That is all scripted. We have what we call
agents to help the talent, for them to articulate the script
of it into the physical movements of it and the guys and the
agents come in, they lay that out and then the agents
communicate that to more the senior executives on the
creative committee and the television production committee
to let them know where they are going to be at what time.
They are going to be out of the ring at this point, about 3
minutes into the match, and then they’ll go back in, there
will be a big spot with a ladder and he is going to jump off
and that is going to happen about 5 minutes in the match.
Q So it is fair to say that you may not control every
single move, but you control the script of the match?
Q And the — and you’re able to — you specify the
A Absolutely. The direction. And then they put
together — they each have a kind of roster of signature
moves that they all use.
Q Okay. Concussions, have you ever diagnosed
wrestlers with concussions?
A Oh, man.
Q Not you specifically?
A ,Right, no. Absolutely not is the answer then. We
have had, I believe, some people who have had mild
concussions who have been checked out and then we have to go
in and rewrite the show. Let’s say it happens on a first
taping, then we have to go back and rewrite the show. If it
happens on a first taping, ,the we have to go back in and
rewrite it where they can be there ringside or something
potentially if they’re able to or capable with a doctor -Âwith
a doctor’s permission but then they would have to be
pulled out of the actual match, the physical matches
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q And it is the ringside doctors that diagnose that
A You can’t, I don’t believe. I mean, he can say I
think it is mild. But if they think it is anything more
than just very, very mild, they have to go to the hospital.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q With concussions, if they in an individual match,
they’re taken out and taken to the hospital. Is there a
period of time that they then have to layoff if they’ve had
A The doctor would dictate that to us, not us to them.
Q Okay. So the doctor — you follow doctor’s orders
A And these are all independent doctors who are the
doctor on staff at the local hospital. They have no vested
interest in us, don’t know who we are or anything.
Q You tape three times a week and pay your wrestlers
on a per appearance?
Q If you have a scenario where someone gets a
concussion and the doctor says he needs 2 weeks off, would
they still be paid for the time they —
A It depends. Most of the times, they are all cleared
to stand there, but they’re not cleared for physical
activity with a concussion. So in that case, we’d have to
scramble, rewrite the script, either put somebody in
their write in the injury into the script and they’d
still be on the show, they’d get paid but they are not
there. Those that we actually sent home because of problems
with, you know, drugs and all lately, we have paid for that
Q The script — the way the matches are scripted,
could you script things on a move-by-move basis if you
wanted? I mean, do you have the contractual right
A These guys are like golfers. I mean, if you have
ever seen a golfer go, oh, you remember 4 years ago on that
fourth tee shot I hit off 13 at Master’s. I mean, they
remember all of these moves. So, I mean, when they are
sitting there that afternoon in a 2 or 3-hour period, they
will layout in their minds and then they talk to each other
where you don’t see it hopefully. But they talk to each
other through the matches and they have to adjust. If
somebody does tweak a knee or do whatever, then they have to
adjust and he’ll start holding his knee and they have to
adjust to that in the ring and almost make it a part of the
Is that what you were asking.
Q I was just wondering about your ability to control
what happens in the ring. If you — I guess part of my
thinking is that again, I think wrestlers — you’re
right, it sounds like they have a way of doing things. You
know, if you were interested in preventing concussions and
preventing some of these chair shots, it might not be enough
to tell them — to give them just — to give them — you
might have to dictate move by move this is what you are
going to do here, this is what you are going to db here,
basically in an effort to keep them from not doing X, Y and
Z. If you needed to script an entire match, move by move,
could you do that?
A Potentially. But you can only script what these
guys do best. If she has her 10 best moves, I’m not going
to make her do his moves that are easier to say something
because she is going to hurt somebody doing his moves
because she doesn’t do them. So I think, you know, they
each have their stable, their roster, their repertoire that
they pull from that is safe and, you know, and some of them
look like they have a higher degree. Some of the most
difficult degree of difficulties we have are the safest
moves in the ring.
Q Okay. Do you have the right to tell your wrestlers
they cannot do X, Y and Z?
Q That they have to do specific things? Can you tell
them they have to do this in the ring and they cannot do
that in the ring?
A You have the right, absolutely. There have been
moves that we’ve seen without permission given or discussion
in advance that we can’t say anything about because it
happens before you can do it and then you say don’t you ever
do that again, I didn’t tell you because I knew you wouldn’t
let me do it, don’t ever do it again.
Q You can tell them I want you to do these five moves
in the ring, I do not want you to do these three moves in
A I do not tell them what moves to do, you know.
These guys know better than I and everybody else what they
can and cannot do safely. And, you know, they have been
doing this a long time. And we haven’t had any — we’ve
been doing this 5-1/2 years. We’ve had one broken bone and
that is it. And he died because of a blood clot because the
hospital didn’t tell him he could fly, that he shouldn’t fly
within a period of time, and that’s what happened and it was
a horrible tragedy. But we’ve never had any more injuries
than that. These guys are very, very good at what they do.
Lots of stitches.
Q Multiple concussions?
A We haven’t had — we haven’t had a serious
concussion and we’ve had a few mild concussions, but not -Ânot
one single serious concussion from my memory.
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q How many people have you sent to the hospital for
concussions? Do you have any recollection of the number?
A I don’t know off the top of my head. If they don’t
pass the — it is a mild from the doctor backstage, then
they would have to go. But like I’m saying, it has been
very few and I don’t know if any of them even checked out to
be a serious concussion. I do know that I have some guys on
my roster that have had serious concussions from previous
jobs. But under TNA I don’t believe so from memory.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Physicals. Your letter indicates that Dr. Jason
Pirozzolodo conducts the physicals. Is this correct?
A I believe that’s correct.
Q When you conduct a physical, what do you screen for?
What do you ask Dr. Pirozzolodo to do with the physicals?
A These are based on governing bodies of State
regulations and they would layout that a full physical
that X, Y and Z has to be under certain labs have to be
run, et cetera. And that is — the doctor would be provided
that and asked to comply with the tests that we need.
Q So you’re under State authority in Florida?
A Correct. But if we were to tour to Missouri by
chance, they have one of the most stringent athletic codes
and regulations. And actually the Missouri State regulator
is the President of the entire body and, you know, we have
again out there a stellar reputation of trying to go above
and beyond any of these requests that people do.
Q And despite — you do fall under the authority of
State athletic commissions?
A Absolutely. Every State you run in, you have to
file the paperwork, you have to determine what their — and
there is a lot of talk on the State level right now on
should there be broader restrictions. You know, some States
you don’t have to have anything. You write a check and you
get the deal. I mean, you get the license. Other States
have tremendously rigid ones and, you know, we follow
whatever the State regulatory is. But I do know that there
is discussions on there to look at more stringent
Q Okay. You may not know the answer to this. Are you
set up in such a way with regard to — I know with WWE there
was a big deal over their disclosure that they were not
sport, they were entertainment, which released them from a
fair amount of regulation of State regulatory authority. Do
you do things differently such that you’re — you continue
to fall under those State regulatory authorities or
is scripted and it is more like, you know, we’re
A We’re not considered sport. It is more wrestling
action sequence a lot during that. But we don’t fall under
the same rules and regulations as other sport maybe coming
into coming into a State.
Q Okay. So generally you’re falling under the
Florida — because you’re primarily in Orlando and don’t do
much touring yet, but you fall under Florida
A But the States we have, you contact each one of them
and determine their regulations.
Q Okay. So how often — under the Florida regs now -Âhow
often does Dr. Pirozzolodo conduct the physicals?
A We’ve had physicals I believe with the entire talent
roster in December at the end of last year, March or April
of this year and then we were going to do it again this
summer. We’ll do it probably one more time during, you
know we’ll look to do those probably twice a year.
Q Okay. Have you ever had a talent fail a physical?
A No. We’ve had a few who have had elevated heart
rates that we made get cleared before they went in there.
We had a man with an elevated liver problem. He was an
older gentleman and almost 60. Anybody who has had little
pieces, we made them go to the doctor and come back to us
and show us that, you know, their problem was solved. And
on the heart stuff, we’ve also — if anybody has had
elevated even day of show, we have also taken you know with
a heart monitor to make sure that it is double checked.
Q And has Dr. Pirozzolodo ever communicated any
concerns about drug abuse generally or steroid or painkiller
use specifically among your wrestlers?
A No. And from my understanding, the elevated levels
that you’d look for for certain drugs, they were not present
Mr. Cohen. I’m done.
BY MR. BUFFONE:
Q I have one quick question. You described to us that
since wrestling — it was known that wrestling has been
fake, it has become a much more dangerous sport.
A That it has become more dangerous?
Q Yes. That now that people think that it is not
real, they do more dangerous moves and do more actions that
really are more dangerous and do potentially get hurt
because people believe that they aren’t real. Is it your
understanding that all TNA moves pretty much are safe and
that really that is not true, that these are trained
professionals doing safe moves?
A I would disagree because the curtain has been pulled
back and they see that the wizard is back there. I think it
is because we live in a day and age of the X games and you
see 7 and 8-year-old boys doing freaky flips off of a
mountain with their little two-wheelers. And you’ve got,
you know, video games now that these guys are playing that
are showing superhuman moves and things such as that. So I
think that has been more the reason that things have become
elevated and people try to top different moves ‘really
because it is just the nature of our generation right now
and where we are at in television and sport than anything
else. I don’t believe it is just because they believe it is
Does that answer your question?
Q I guess it is not really that it is not real. But
because it is not real, they’ve been allowed to do more and
more extreme things —
A They are not doing anything now that they didn’t do
before. People just maybe now know that, God, that
person — there are still some that choose to believe. And
really what it is, it is no different for a movie. For a
period of time you sit there and you suspend disbelief. You
suspend disbelief that Tom Cruise is married to Katie Holmes
and he divorced Nicole Kidman and that he really is this
person in Mission Impossible. It is the same thing here.
You suspend disbelief that this guy is Abyss the Monster and
he is a 6 foot 8, 300-pound man that canceled a date to come
be at my daughter’s birth and hold her in his hand from here
to here. That is my Monster Abyss. You know so people know
in real life that he is not a real monster that wears a mask
and has this kind of crazy thing. I think they’ve just came
to realize that that — it is a movie, it is television, it
is scripted. And I think for a while professional wrestling
wanted people to believe it was real. But I think Vince
made the decision single handedly and was in a position to
pull the curtain back, and I don’t know if he did it for
selfish reasons because, oh, this protects me from having to
comply with this, that or the other or if it was some other
strategic move. I don’t know.
BY MR. COHEN:
Q Do you know Mr. McMahon? Do you know him
A No. I’ve never talked to him.
Mr. Cacheris. Are we done?
Mr. Cohen. We’re done.
[Whereupon, at 3:30 p.m., the interview was concluded.]