WWE downplays drug factor
Sources: Benoit ordered steroids from raided clinic
Posted: Tuesday June 26, 2007 11:25PM; Updated: Tuesday June 26, 2007 11:25PM
Since last summer Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim have been investigating an alleged illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated numerous pro athletes. On Feb. 27 the two SI writers accompanied federal and state drug enforcement agents on a raid of a Jupiter, Fla., anti-aging clinic that investigators allege conspired to fraudulently prescribe steroids, human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs over the Internet.
SI.com: What's the latest?
Llosa/Wertheim: Sources with knowledge of the multi-state steroid pipeline case confirmed to SI on Tuesday that pro wrestler Chris Benoit (a.k.a. The Canadian Crippler) was a customer of MedXLife, a Florida-based, anti-aging clinic that had two of its owners plead guilty in April to illegal steroid distribution. Benoit, of course, is alleged to have strangled his wife and suffocated his 7-year-old son over the weekend before hanging himself. On Tuesday, Georgia investigators revealed that they had found large quantities of prescription drugs in the home, including steroids. Speculation soon swirled in the media about whether 'roid rage had played a part in the tragedy.
SI.com: So how was Benoit linked to the drug distribution pipeline?
Llosa/Wertheim: According to SI's sources, three packages sent to Benoit originated at Signature Pharmacy, the compound pharmacy that was the primary target of the February raid in Orlando. And while investigators do not have prescriptions with Benoit's name on them and cannot name the exact drugs he received, they confirm that a package was sent in his name on Feb. 13, 2006, to an address linked to him in Peachtree City, Ga. Packages were also sent to him at a Marriott property in San Antonio in December 2005 and in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., in July 2006.
SI.com: Is Benoit the first wrestler to be linked to the multi-state investigation?
Llosa/Wertheim: No. SI.com reported in March that the names of multiple high profile wrestlers have surfaced in this investigation. For example, according to documents we reviewed, HCG and the steroid stanozolol were sent to WWE star Eddie Guerrero in early 2005. (Guerrero died on Nov. 13, 2005, in a Minneapolis hotel room due to what a coroner later ruled as heart disease, complicated by an enlarged heart resulting from a history of anabolic steroid use.)
In total, there were 11 professional wrestlers listed in the documents that we saw related to a previous raid. Some of these wrestlers are working as independents; some are out of the business entirely; others are first-tier stars.
SI.com: What's the WWE's reaction to the Benoit case?
Llosa/Wertheim: Reached on Tuesday night, WWE spokesman Gary Davis directed us to a statement the company released earlier in the day, which was titled WWE Shocked At Latest Developments In Benoit Tragedy, Concerned By Sensationalistic Reporting. The statement reads, in part, "Toxicology tests have not even been completed so there is no current evidence that Benoit even had steroids or any other substance in his body. In that regard, on the last test done on Benoit by WWE's independently administered drug testing program, done on April 10, 2007, Benoit tested negative.
"The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife's feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each [of the bodies] is also not an act of rage."
SI.com: What is the WWE's drug policy?
Llosa/Wertheim: In March, Davis pointed us to a Talent Wellness Program instituted in February 2006. As to whether anabolic steroids and HGH are banned, Davis sent us an email quoting the policy: "The WWE policy prohibits the use of performance-enhancing drugs, as well as other prescription drugs which can be abused, if taken for other than a legitimate medical purpose pursuant to a valid prescription from a licensed and treating physician. For purposes of WWE's policy, prescriptions obtained over the Internet and/or from suppliers of prescription drugs from the Internet are not considered to have been given for a legitimate medical purpose." Citing privacy issues, Davis declined to say whether WWE wrestlers have tested positive for banned substances since the policy was implemented.