STONEWALL: Celebrity CTE Doctors Bunker Down

STONEWALL: Celebrity CTE Doctors Bunker Down

The doctor at the center of the conflict of interest controversy surrounding TauMark tells Breitbart Sports that he has renounced his stake in the mysterious company, which made widely-reported claims about diagnosing the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Tony Dorsett, Mark Duper, and other living football players.

“Neither I, nor any member of my family, [is] a stockholder, investor, Director, member, [or] paid consultant for TauMark, and have not received any financial re[mun]eration of any type from TauMark,” Bailes initially explained in a Tuesday email. He characterized his role as that of an advisor.

But when subsequently confronted with West Virginia government documents listing him as a partner in CTEM–the LLC that applied for the trade name “TauMark” in June and filed a trademark on “TauMark Better Brain Diagnostics” in August–the doctor who made glowing assessments of TauMark brain scans to the press conceded that he helped found the venture just eight months ago. The League of Denial talking head insists that, legal documents to the contrary, he has forsaken his ownership. Whether that happened before Breitbart Sports broke the story of the conflict of interest or after–or if it has officially happened yet at all–remains unclear.

“In the ensuing months following the filing of the original paperwork for CTEM, in which I was listed as a member, my status changed to purely advisory,” Bailes claims. “I have no financial interest in TauMark.”

But West Virginia’s Secretary of State’s office indicates otherwise as of this writing.

Despite updating the company’s status with West Virginia in June, TauMark made no filing indicating that Bailes–or Drs. Bennet Omalu, Gary Small, or Jorge Barrio for that matter–had left the partnership, a West Virginia official tells Breitbart Sports. 

“It’s a rather easy process,” points out Brock Burwell, a business and licensing specialist with West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office. The seceding partner would only need to fill out a two-page document, which could be done over the internet. Burwell notes that the change would “go up immediately” online. Burwell noted of Bailes Wednesday, “I do see that individual listed as a member.” And as of Friday, there was no indication that Bailes had changed his status with West Virginia’s secretary of state.

If West Virginia hasn’t been informed of the change in the partnership, Bailes may still legally be considered a partner in the enterprise. The CTE researcher referred future inquiries to TauMark, which has repeatedly refused to respond to basic questions about the company’s ownership or whereabouts. The area code and exchange for TauMark’s phone number points to an office in Natchitoches, Louisiana–Bailes’s hometown of 18,323 people–that his longtime associate Billy West occupies. But repeated calls to TauMark’s/West’s office remain unreturned.

In fact, the seven men listed as partners in CTEM in the articles of organization certified by West Virginia in March have rebuffed the efforts of Breitbart Sports to reach them by phone or email. Calls to the offices of famed sports agent James “Bus” Cook, who has represented dozens of NFL players including Brett Favre, and Bob Fitzsimmons, featured in PBS’ League of Denial as Mike Webster’s legal consul, went unreturned. Emails to Drs. Gary Small and Jorge Barrio, both of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and Dr. Bennet Omalu of the UC-Davis Medical Center, did not elicit responses of any kind. After being confronted with proof of his ownership stake in TauMark after initially denying it, Bailes indicated that he was done answering questions about the enterprise.

The silence represents an about-face in TauMark’s relationship with the media. In early November, Bailes and Omalu touted TauMark’s purported scientific breakthrough to the sports press rather than academic journals. Reports at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, ABC, CBS, and NBC all failed to note that government documents listed the doctors hyping TauMark’s scans as the owners of the company.

The popular press similarly overlooked a Bailes- and Omalu-authored article published in Frontiers of Neurology after the majority of players diagnosed with CTE were tested, but before TauMark incorporated, that conceded in the second line of its summary that “the diagnosis of CTE remains autopsy-based.” The peer-reviewed submission, co-authored by four other scientists, reiterated that widely accepted precept throughout the main body of the article. Similarly, TauMark’s website even admitted that definite diagnosis of CTE can only come through autopsy. A Breitbart Sports query on the contradiction preceded a scrubbing of the passage from the site.

Celebrity scientists Bailes and Omalu provided the controversial brain scans with much-needed credibility given that no independent peer-reviewed articles or FDA approval supports the validity of scan diagnoses of CTE in the living. ESPN reported Dr. Julian Bailes as dubbing the tests “a game changer.” The sports network quoted Dr. Bennet Omalu saying of the TauMark group’s findings that there is a “reasonable degree of certainty that this is CTE until proven otherwise.”

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game (Regnery, 2013)

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