By Chris Kramer
August 2, 2007 - At the end of June, we detailed the tragic case of former wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and seven-year-old son before hanging himself on a weight machine. At the time, Total Divorce detailed reports indicating that Chris Benoit had a history of domestic violence and that his wife Nancy had once tried to file for divorce from her husband before withdrawing her divorce petition.
As the details of this tragic case came to light, it was revealed that anabolic steroids were located in the Atlanta home in which the bodies of the Benoit family were found. Investigators thus began wondering whether steroids had impacted Benoit's mental condition before the slayings and his suicide.
Toxicology reports later indicated that Benoit had steroids and other drugs in his system at the time of his death. Specifically, Benoit tested positive for elevated levels for testosterone. While some people assumed that the murders and suicide were a result of "roid rage," the toxicology reports did not prove that the steroids were behind the murders or offer any reason to why Benoit committed the acts.
The toxicology reports also indicated that Benoit's seven-year-old son Daniel was sedated with Xanax prior to being suffocated by his father. Even stranger, Daniel Benoit's arm featured needle marks, with their reasons for being on the boy's body unknown. Like her son, Nancy Benoit had Xanax in her system in addition to hydrocodone and hydromorphone, which was byproduct of her body breaking down the hydrocodone. There was no evidence of human growth hormone (HGH) in any of the three bodies.
Naturally, these findings prompted questions of steroid and drug abuse among professional wrestlers. With this context in mind, Congress is now asking World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to voluntarily submit documents detailing the wrestling organization's drug policy.
Specifically, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to not only explain the wrestling organization's drug testing policies but to also bring forth any injuries, illnesses or deaths to both former and current wrestlers that may have been attributed to steroid use or performance enhancing drugs.
Committee Chairman Representative Henry Waxman of California and ranking member Tom Davis of Virginia cited the Benoit case and admissions from other wrestlers in a letter to McMahon claiming that there may be a culture of performance-enhancing drug use in the wrestling industry. The letter also urged McMahon and the WWE to live up to its responsibility of removing such drugs from the sport and setting a good example for younger wrestlers at the high school and collegiate levels.
A WWE attorney could not be initially reached for comment about the letter. At the time of the toxicology reports, the WWE released a statement that Benoit had passed a drug test mandated by the wrestling organization in April. The statement said that Benoit was negative for anabolic steroids and testosterone during the April drug test and indicated that the wrestler appeared to have taken testosterone sometime in the period after that test and before his death.
We'll keep you updated on the latest developments with the investigation into steroid use in professional wrestling.