July 3, 2007
Benoit doc chargedPrescribed steroids to wrestler?
By AJAY BHARDWAJ -- Edmonton Sun
The personal doctor of a pro wrestler who killed his wife and son before committing suicide was charged yesterday with improperly dispensing painkillers and other drugs to other patients.
The seven-count indictment said Dr. Phil Astin, physician to wrestler Chris Benoit, dispensed drugs including Percocet, Xanax, Lorcet and Vicoprofen between April 2004 and September 2005. The recipients were identified in the indictment by the initials O.G. and M.J.; Benoit's initials were not listed.
"It's so sad," said retired wrestler Bruce Hart, who got Benoit started in Stampede Wrestling. "I don't endorse what these doctors do but I also feel sad because I've been exposed to these wrestlers. A lot of them, I don't know about Benoit, I know about Dynamite Kid and Davey (Boy Smith) were going around to get prescriptions" from different doctors. They'd go to one doctor for one drug and visit a second for another drug, he said.
"I think the doctor will probably take some heat."
Astin was expected to make an initial court appearance yesterday afternoon.
Hart, now 51, saw the halcyon days of Stampede Wrestling, with its emphasis on wrestling and not on high-impact moves and eyeball popping bodies, wrap its show up in 1990.
With World Wrestling Entertainment squeezing its competition, wrestlers have fewer places to learn, let alone perform.
"There's hardly any guys who learn to wrestle and they have to be stars when they arrive," he said. "They've turned the business into a spectacle with muscleheads and stunt crap."
Pressure to perform, he said, is huge. Wrestlers in the show take chances, hurling themselves from tops of cages and ladders, often injuring themselves. That leads to the use of painkillers, downers to deaden the pain and then uppers to come out of the resulting fog before heading onto the mat.
Hart, who trained the likes of Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman and Benoit, said he feels "saddened" by their untimely deaths. All of them were good wrestlers and didn't need to take performance-enhancing drugs, he added.
"Our hearts, my brother Brett and me, go out to Benoit's family," he said, adding he was shocked by Benoit's death and the unthinkable tragedy that included the murder of his wife and seven-year-old son.
A separate criminal complaint made public yesterday said Astin had written prescriptions for about a million doses of controlled substances over the past two years, including "significant quantities" of injectable testosterone cypionate, an anabolic steroid.
The complaint by Drug Enforcement Administration agent Anissa Jones said the amount of prescriptions was "excessive" for a medical office with a sole practitioner in a rural area like Carrollton, about 60 km west of Atlanta.
The affidavit said he prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007. It says that during a probe of a company called RX Weight Loss, Benoit was identified as an excessive purchaser of injectable steroids.
The affidavit also said Astin was identified as the supplier of various controlled substances, including injectable anabolic steroids that were found in Benoit's home.
Astin has not been charged with supplying steroids to Benoit, though U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said that the investigation continues.
Federal drug agents have taken over the probe into whether Astin improperly prescribed testosterone and other drugs to Benoit before the killings and suicide in the wrestler's suburban Atlanta home last month.
Astin prescribed testosterone for Benoit, a longtime friend, in the past but has not said what, if any, medications he prescribed when Benoit visited his office June 22, the day authorities believe Benoit killed his wife and son.