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Report: NBA Says Donald Sterling Tried to Cover Up Racism Scandal

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Donald Sterling attempted to persuade his girlfriend V. Stiviano to say that he was not responsible for inflammatory comments made on a leaked audio recording, according to a formal allegation the NBA is using to try to throw Sterling out of the league seen by the Los Angeles Times.

The now infamous recording in which Sterling makes racist comments in a conversation with Stiviano was leaked to TMZ on April 25, leading NBA commissioner Adam Silver to issue a lifetime ban for Sterling on April 29.

According to the L.A. Times, the NBA alleges that Sterling’s wife Shelly and then-Clippers President Andy Roeser helped Sterling try to convince Stiviano to tell the NBA that the voice on the recording was not Sterling’s and that she had altered it.

The charges were in part based on an interview chief NBA investigator David Anders held with Stiviano, the L.A. Times reports. The allegations issued on Monday accuse the Sterling-led Clippers organizations of “destroying evidence relating to the recording, providing false and misleading information to Anders in connection with the commissioner’s investigation of the recording and issuing a false and misleading public statement on April 26 regarding the authenticity of the TMZ recording.”

Roeser allegedly received a copy of the recording on April 9, long before it was leaked to TMZ, and asked an employee to delete the recording along with related text messages from a phone. When the tape leaked, Roeser issued a statement for the team: “We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or if it has been altered.” The NBA maintains that that statement, which was created with the Sterlings, “falsely question[ed] the legitimacy and the authenticity of the recording.”

The report also says that Sterling and his wife are not estranged, as Shelly Sterling has claimed, and that the couple appeared publicly together for two days after the recording became public. Shelly Sterling is fighting to keep ownership of the team, despite the ban imposed on her husband.

The NBA says Sterling must respond to the allegations by May 27. On June 3, Sterling is scheduled to present his case to the 29 other NBA owners. They can remove him from the league with a three-fourths vote at that time.

[L.A. Times]

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com