July 5, 2007
Benoit's mother has questions for drug cops

ATLANTA (Sun) -- Chris Benoit's mother said she wonders whether her son would still be alive if federal agents had been more aggressive when they discovered the professional wrestler was buying large quantities of steroids.

The Drug Enforcement Administration acknowledged this week that Benoit's name surfaced in an investigation before he killed his wife, son and himself. But Benoit wasn't charged, and his supply continued until at least May, a month before the murder-suicide, according to a review of records by a wire service.

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said "it's ridiculous for anyone to think we could have known that anything like that could have happened."

But Benoit's mother said she is also concerned by another disclosure that police were previously aware Benoit's doctor, Phil Astin, may have been improperly prescribing medications.

Asked if quicker action by authorities could have helped her son, Margaret Benoit said in a telephone interview from her home near Edmonton, "We would certainly hope so. We just don't know. We're dealing with so many things. It's incredible."

The case highlights the DEA's focus on drug traffickers rather than individual users, even when those users are star athletes and celebrities.

The targets of the BALCO investigation in San Francisco, for instance, weren't the baseball players and runners who allegedly bought steroids but the distribution network that sold them. Building those types of cases can take years.

"We can arrest and prosecute users, but they are not the target or focus of most investigations," Payne said.

"You don't run out and arrest a doctor for making one prescription that is questionable," Payne said. "There's just not enough evidence to arrest or bring charges. We want to bring charges that are legitimate. Cases take time."

Authorities found anabolic steroids in Benoit's home in Atlanta, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the killings that started June 22. Benoit strangled his wife and son and placed Bibles next to their bodies before hanging himself on the cable of a weight-machine, authorities said.

- with files from Sun wire services

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