Recipients of Mike Allen’s Playbook, the industry-standard Washington morning news roundup, got two paragraphs today on the activities of Lance Armstrong and his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Here they are:
WASHINGTON, INC. - “INFLUENCE GAME: Cyclist’s allies turn to Congress,” by AP’s Pete Yost: “The foundation created by seven-time Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong has mounted a lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill in an effort to counter accusations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs ... The foundation recently hired one of Washington’s most venerable and powerful law and lobbying firms, Patton Boggs, to represent it. The foundation, which provides support for people affected by cancer, was founded in 1997 by Armstrong, a cancer survivor.” http://bit.ly/Mk4Oe6
--PLAYBOOK BACKSTORY: Patton Boggs and Jon Yarowsky of Patton Boggs will soon register on behalf of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. USADA has been using lobbyists for years and paying for them at least in part with federal dollars (two-thirds of USADA’s budget comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy).
On the Politico Web site, Allen’s “BACKSTORY” analysis is no longer available.
What could have gone wrong here? Perhaps the facts. Annie Skinner, USADA’s media relations manager, says that, contrary to Allen’s contention, not a penny of federal funding supports USADA’s lobbying activities.
“We have very specific ways that the money is divided,” says Skinner, pointing out that federal funds for USADA go strictly toward conducting anti-doping programs, educating athletes about the problem and testing.
Any monies that fund lobbying, contends Skinner, come from private sources, contrary to the suggestion in Playbook. “Nobody from that organization bothered to verify it before sending that out,” lamented Skinner. Playbook has just appended a correction to its posting.
The correction explains the matter of how USADA funds its lobbying initiatives. What it leaves unexplained, however, is why the Papa of Playbook decided to carry water for this great superstar celebrity cyclist. Allen hasn’t yet responded to a question about that. Perhaps the written record will shed some light on his relationship to the story.
A year ago, Allen wrote a piece on the cyclist titled “Exclusive: Lance Armstrong takes on feds,” which essentially republished a briefing in which Armstrong’s lawyers attack federal prosecutors. And in February 2011, Allen wrote a
story press release pegged to Armstrong’s retirement: “Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor and record seven-time winner of the Tour de France, will announce his retirement from competitive cycling on Wednesday, a top adviser tells POLITICO.” That ”top adviser” was quoted heavily.