When Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey about his suspected use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs is broadcast on Thursday, an investment banker will most likely be watching it very carefully (and nervously): Thomas Weisel.
Mr. Weisel is a legend in finance and Silicon Valley. He was the banker behind Yahoo's public offering and some of the biggest deals during the dot-com bubble. He famously sold the firm he ran, Montgomery Securities, for $1.2 billion in 1997. And he sold his next firm, Thomas Weisel Partners, for $300 million to Stifel Financial in 2010.
But it is Mr. Weisel's extracurricular activity that connects him to the news of the moment: he was Mr. Armstrong's biggest financial backer and the single individual most responsible for the money machine that propelled Mr. Armstrong's career.
Depending on what Mr. Armstrong says in the interview about his purported doping, Mr. Weisel, who was a co-owner of the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team through a cycling management firm that he helped found called Tailwind Sports, could be subject along with his partners to lawsuits from corporate sponsors seeking millions of dollars. Already, there is a False Claims Act case contending that Mr. Armstrong and the team defrauded the Postal Service.
Perhaps more anxiety-producing is what Mr. Weisel may have known, or should have known, about a team that for years ran "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.