Congress Challenges WWE after Steroid Findings in Wrestler Murder-Suicide

The details of the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide tragedy have been publicly reported over all the major national media outlets over the past few weeks, but the aftermath could have much larger ramifications for the public than just the unfathomable family tragedy that occurred.

At the end of June, former professional wrestler Chris Benoit made national headlines by killing his wife and seven-year-old son before hanging himself on a weight machine. The discovery of anabolic steroids at the Benoit home, in addition to toxicology reports of registered steroids and other drugs present in Benoit’s system at the time of death, led many of the public to assume that the tragedy happened as a result of “‘roid rage.” Public speculation ran rampant as to the extent of steroid usage among professional wrestlers, a group of athletes well-known for their extreme physical attributes.

Now, in a move that promises to open up this case into a larger investigation of drug use among athletes, the United States Congress has become involved. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to submit a detailed copy of its drug policy, as well as to surrender relevant documents regarding steroid usage among its athletes, including any injuries, illnesses or deaths that might have been caused by steroid use. The Congressional inquiry comes on the heels of an ongoing investigation by Senator George Mitchell into steroid use among Major League Baseball players, including major stars such as Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds.

Committee Chairman Representative Henry Waxman of California and ranking member Tom Davis of Virginia addressed the Benoit case in a letter to WWE president Vince McMahon, asserting that this may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional wrestling. The tone of their letter was one of admonishment, as they urged McMahon and the WWE to remember its influential role in the lives of young people and to set a positive example for younger wrestlers at the high school and collegiate levels.

The Congressional probe isn’t the only fallout from the family tragedy. Shortly after the incident occurred, Benoit’s physician, Dr. Phil Astin, was charged with improper dispensation of drugs, including painkillers. At the time of the indictment, Benoit had not been included in the seven counts for which Astin had been charged. Federal officials had taken over the investigation into improper dispensation in regards to Benoit himself. It is known that Astin prescribed testosterone for Benoit, an excess of which was found in his body according to the toxicology reports.

Come back to Total Criminal Defense for updates on the investigation by Congress that might affect drug and steroid usage by athletes in professional wrestling and all major sports. And for other celebrity legal issues, visit our Celebrity Arrest Spotlight.