Drug Use in Athletics, Self-Publishing Among Topics Discussed at CLE Event
Web Editor - Published: February 28, 2013
“The reality of it is that these guys are doing these things to compete because they believe its what they have to do. It sounds morally corrupt, but that’s the reality of it,” said Mike Missanelli, Esq. ‘86 of ESPN affiliate 97.5 The Fanatic as he spoke during the “Drug Use in Professional Athletics” panel at the 8th annual Sports and Entertainment Law CLE Symposium held on Widener Law’s Delaware campus on Tuesday, February 26th.

Performance Enhancers and the Legal Landscape

A dynamic and enlightening panel on drug use in professional athletics featuring Missanelli and Widener Law Associate Professor Andre Smith kicked off the daylong program with a consideration of the recent scandals involving performance enhancing drugs and supplements in professional athletics. Professor Smith opened the panel by presenting a series of questions about determining what is illegal and why. He also looked at where the law currently stands on those topics and where it may be going in the future, including how issues related to performance enhancers could play into contract negotiations or future tort liability.

“We have created the environment in which performance enhancing drugs have flourished,” Missanelli said of fans and the media, observing that too often such behavior has been rewarded right up until it becomes a source of public scandal.

He also addressed the recent Major League Baseball Hall of Fame vote in which none of the eligible players were voted in and suggested that players such as Mike Piazza, who never had any direct allegations of using performance enhancers, were tainted by association to players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds because “the voters don’t know who used.”

The panelists took a few spirited questions from the audience following their remarks addressing issues such as the chain of evidence issue that resulted in MLB overturning the suspension of 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, whether changing societal issues toward marijuana might offer a change in league policies that could later inform the debate on performance enhancers, and the possibility of litigation against the International Cycling Union (UCI) for being complicit in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Professor Smith argued that the treatment of marijuana would not necessarily be a good comparison to performance enhancers because as a parent, his concern would be his children feeling that they needed to use performance enhancers to compete. On the issue of possible litigation in the Lance Armstrong or similar cases, both panelists agreed that legal remedies would be more likely to come from the civil system and efforts to recoup payments rather than through criminal prosecution.

Opportunities and Pitfalls in Self-Publishing

Mark Levine, Esq. of Hillcrest Media Group, Inc., who wrote The Fine Art of Self-Publishing, joined adjunct Alexander Murphy, the faculty advisor for Widener Law’s student run Sports and Entertainment Law Association, for a panel on self-publishing and film following lunch.

Levine noted that people often ask him whether their books are good enough to self-publish and that his answer is that it all depends on expectations. He covered sobering statistics on the number of copies that self-published books usually sell and talked about self-publishing contracts and what they should contain. He also covered some of the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing including distribution and upfront costs.

Murphy followed Levine’s remarks with a comprehensive presentation on the process a self-published book would go through to get made into a movie. He touched on the differences between working with books published through the traditional model and self-published works.

“The traditional publisher in a producer’s eyes is a gatekeeper. They’ve already figured out that this is quality,” Murphy said.

The presentation concluded with a brief consideration of ebooks and then questions from the audience. Asked how a reader should identify quality written works without the gatekeeper, Levine replied, “Today’s gatekeepers are the other consumers,” citing the proliferation of user reviews through Amazon and similar sites.

Music and More

The symposium also featured a panel on income streams for musical artists, how to better monetize those streams, and how lawyers can protect the interests of those musical artists. The music panel featured Kenneth J. Abdo, Esq. from the Minneapolis, MN offices of Lommen Abdo and his colleagues Robert E. Donnelly of the New York, NY office and John L. Simson of the Washington, D.C. office.

The day concluded with an Ethics panel titled “Responsibilities as a Player Agent” moderated by Murphy and featuring Mary E. Cavallaro, Esq., the Assistant National Executive Director, News & Broadcast for SAG-AFTRA, and Jerrold D. Colton, Esq. of CS Sports Management of Voorhees, NJ who represents such prominent athletes as New Orleans Saints All-Pro guard Jahiri Evans and current broadcaster and former Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason.