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Proof WWEllness policy is working found in missing talent
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


Everyone loves a bit of scandal. Whether it's Mel Gibson going postal on the cops or 'NSYNC's Lance Bass making the Captain Obvious announcement of the month, nothing makes a news editor's day like some juicy celebrity drama.

For wrestling editors, the past few weeks have been like Christmas, Wrestlemania and a night of passion with Trish Stratus all rolled into one.

Steroid speculation, suspensions, fallen heroes and health scares -- the sensational stuff headlines are made of is rolling off the rumour mill on an almost daily basis.

It's all the result of WWE's wellness policy -- a triple threat testing initiative for drugs, abuse of prescription medication and general health issues amongst the in-ring talent of the McMahon empire.

Since the testing was implemented last spring, wrestlers have slowly started dropping from the WWE roster like flies.

Some of the disappearances are publicly acknowledged, such as Rob Van Dam's suspension after being busted with marijuana by Ohio State police while driving to a wrestling show last month.

Other absences have been kept on the down-low, with WWE bosses removing the wrestler from the fray without a word being said.

Kurt Angle vanished from storylines last month, with most fans assuming he was taking time off to heal some injuries.

But grappling insiders, such as the Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, claim Angle is actually on a 30-day suspension for a violation of the terms of the wellness policy.

Does that mean Angle is 'roided up or addicted to pain pills? Not at all. Angle's infraction could be as minor as an increase in natural testosterone levels or a forgotten prescription renewal.

But with no concrete information from WWE HQ, fans can't be blamed for assuming the worst.

Angle isn't the only wrestler currently MIA.

Chris Masters and Joey Mercury disappeared from WWE TV months ago, quietly stepping out of the spotlight to deal with 'personal problems.'

The Great Khali, Super Crazy and even WWE referee Jimmy Korderas all disappeared from the Smackdown brand last month, a result of what were believed to be a series of worrying results in their physical exams.

Matt Hardy and Tatanka are reportedly next in line for suspensions and with more big name disappearing acts reportedly on the way, the internet buzz over who did what isn't likely to stop anytime soon.

But hidden somewhere beneath the rumours and speculation is the real news story in all of this -- WWE has a wellness policy and it seemingly knows how to use it.

Even though it has resulted in lost income, decimated pay-per-view lineups and a series of minor scandals, WWE is sticking to is guns on the health and safety of its wrestlers.

This wellness program may not be the perfect solution. It may not always red flag the right guys.

Heck, it has more loopholes than the Calgary smoking ban but it's still a step in the right direction.

And that's the kind of news headline everybody loves to see.


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