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WWE drug crackdown
Steroid raid nabs 10 wrestlers


Current WWE wrestlers Booker T (far left) and Edge (middle left), along with deceased wrestlers Eddie Guerrero (middle right) and Chris Benoit (far right), are reported to have been clients of Signature Pharmacy, which authorities allege illegally distributed steroids to clients who had not by examined by doctors. (Sun Media flies)




NEW HAVEN, Conn. — World Wrestling Entertainment has suspended 10 of its wrestlers for violations of a policy that tests for steroids and other drugs, the company said Thursday.

Stamford-based WWE says it issued suspension notices based on independent information from the prosecutor’s office in Albany County, N.Y., which has been investigating illegal steroid sales.

Neither the WWE nor the Albany County district attorney’s office would comment on the suspended wrestlers’ identities Thursday. No criminal charges were filed, they said.

Under a WWE wellness policy instituted last year that requires tests for steroids and other drugs, a wrestler faces a 30-day suspension without pay for a first violation, a 60-day suspension for a second violation and firing for a third violation. Performers are tested at least four times per year.

The current WWE drug testing policy was instituted after the November 2005 death of Eddie Guerrero.

“We are very actively working to eradicate the use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs in the WWE,” WWE spokesman Gary Davis said. “Today’s action is part of that effort.”

WWE officials met this month with New York prosecutors investigating illegal steroid sales. Albany County prosecutor P. David Soares’ office has said that pro wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his family before hanging himself in June, and other WWE wrestlers had been clients of Signature Pharmacy of Orlando, Fla. Investigators say Benoit had a steroid and other drugs in his system at the time.

When Soares’ office began investigating the illegal sale and distribution of controlled substances, he said, his office sought the help of WWE after a number of its wrestlers appeared on customer lists of clinics connected with Signature Pharmacy.

Nine people, including three current or former physicians, have pleaded guilty, most affiliated with Internet and phone-order companies that filled orders for anabolic steroids and growth hormones through Signature and sent drugs to customers around the country, including Albany County.

Signature’s owners have pleaded not guilty.

The Benoit case prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask WWE to turn over any information it has on steroid and drug abuse in pro wrestling. The committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on the case.

The WWE declined to reveal who had been suspended, but did say that policy would be changing. "It has been WWE's practice not to release the names of those who have been suspended, but notice has been sent to all WWE performers that names of anyone who is suspended under the Wellness Policy as of November 1 will be made public," read the press release.

At the centre of the suspensions is the release of a client list from Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, which was raided by Albany County and Florida law enforcement agencies in February. Authorities allege that Signature Pharmacy illegally distributed steroids and other prescription drugs to clients who had not by examined by doctors.

In an article on ESPN.com, Shaun Assael reported the following current WWE wrestlers were named as clients of Signature:

Other current WWE wrestlers on the client list, as reported by the New York Daily News on its website are:

Also named in the ESPN article as Signature clients were Eddie Guerrero, Brian Adams (a.k.a. Crush) and Benoit.

In today's edition of the New York Daily News, the newspaper reported the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing in late September into performance-enhancing drugs in professional wrestling.

The chairman of the committee, Illinois Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush, told the Daily News that witness lists have not been compiled. Letters requesting information were sent to WWE, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance.

Through their website, Sports Illustrated released further information on the WWE wrestlers that, as noted in the article, "have received steroids and/or human growth hormone through the drug network."

In the article which was published and updated before 8:00pm Thursday evening, current wrestlers Copeland, Matthews, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Helms, Hennigan, Anderson, Funaki, Haas and Edward Fatu (Umaga), along with Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Adams and recent WWE releasee Sylvain Grenier were named as having received prescriptions.

As reported by SI, prescriptions included a variety of drugs such as anastrozole, somatropin, nandrolone, stanozolol and others in a time period that ran as early as November 2003 and as recently as February 2007. The types of drugs and dates of the prescriptions varied by wrestler.

WWE has about 160 wrestlers. WWE shares closed Thursday at $14.80, down 21 cents.

-- with files from SLAM! Wrestling wire services