'Crush,' 'Edge' among those who received 'roids, HGH
Since last summer, Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim have been investigating an illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated pro athletes. On Feb. 27, the reporters accompanied federal and state drug enforcement agents on a coordinated raid of an Orlando compound pharmacy and a Jupiter, Fla., "anti-aging" clinic that investigators allege conspired to fraudulently prescribe steroids, human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs over the Internet.
With its rare confluence of hot button topics -- sports, kids, death, and drugs -- the double-murder, suicide case involving pro wrestler Chris Benoit and his family made for a cause celebre last summer. When the news cycle passed and the media turned its attention to a corrupt NBA referee and an NFL quarterback financing a dogfighting ring, investigators continued to explore the pipeline that enabled professional athletes to obtain steroids and human growth hormone through a chain of compound pharmacies, "anti-aging" clinics and venal doctors who often rubber-stamped prescriptions, sometimes without treating their "patients."
As the WWE is embattled by charges that its wrestlers die early and unexpectedly with alarming frequency, it must now counter evidence that the culture is awash in illicit drug use. That cause wasn't helped on Thursday, when, based on information provided to the WWE by the Albany District Attorney's office, the organization suspended 10 wrestlers for violating the company's drug policy.
While the WWE declined to release the names of the suspended athletes, SI has learned that a dozen professional wrestlers have received steroids and/or human growth hormone through the drug network. The WWE would not confirm which, if any, of the following wrestlers are among those suspended:
• Benoit, who died June 24, 2007, received nandrolone and anastrozole in February 2006. (Anastrozole is used by athletes to counter side effects of steroid use, such as water retention and breast enlargement.)
• Two weeks prior to Eddie Guerrero's death on Nov. 13, 2005, hewas sent nandrolone, testosterone, and anastrozole. Guerrero died in a Minneapolis hotel room due to what a coroner later ruled as heart disease, complicated by an enlarged heart resulting from a history of anabolic steroid use.
• Chavo Guerrero, who found his uncle Eddie dead in the Minneapolis hotel room, received, among other drugs, somatropin (HGH), nandrolone and anastrozole between April 2005 and May 2006.
• Between November 2003 and February 2007, Shane Helms, a/k/a The Hurricane, received, among other drugs, testosterone, genotropin (HGH) and nandrolone. (As previously reported by SI, he allegedly received HGH from an Arizona doctor in 2005.)
• Starting in September 2004 through February 2007, Randy Orton received somatropin, nandrolone, stanozolol.
• John Hennigan, a/k/a Johnny Nitro, a.k.a. Johnny Morrison, is the current WWE Extreme Championship Wrestling's heavyweight champion. Between June 2006 and February 2007 he was prescribed somatropin, anastrozole, testosterone, stanozolol and chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced naturally during pregnancy. (HCG is taken by anabolic steroid users to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is suppressed as a result of steroid use.)
• Ken Anderson, a/k/a Mr. Kennedy, lost to Eddie Guerrero in Guerrero's final match on Nov. 11, 2005. Kennedy received shipments of anastrozole, somatropin and testosterone between October 2006 and February 2007.
• Shoichi Funaki received somatropin in March 2006.
• Brian Adams, a/k/a Crush, who retired from the pro circuit in 2001, was found dead of unknown causes on Aug. 13. He received nandrolone, testosterone and Somatropin or HGH in December 2006.
• Charles Haas was prescribed anastrozole, somatropin, stanozolol, nandrolone and chorionic gonadotropin between August 2006 and January 2007.
• Edward Fatu received somatropin between July and December 2006.
• Between November 2004 and November 2006, Darren Matthews received stanozolol, somatropin, genotropin, and anastrozole.
• Adam Copeland, a/k/a Edge, received somatropin, genotropin (both HGH), and stanozolol between September 2004 and February 2007.
• Sylvain Grenier received somatropin, nandrolone, genotropin and stanozolol, starting in February 2005 through July 2006.
Through WWE spokesman Gary Davis, the applicable WWE wrestlers listed above declined comment.
In the wake of Eddie Guerrero's steroid-related death, the WWE instituted a "Talent Wellness Program" in February 2006. The policy "prohibits the use of performance-enhancing drugs, as well as other prescription drugs which can be abused, if taken for other than a legitimate medical purpose pursuant to a valid prescription from a licensed and treating physician. For purposes of WWE's policy, prescriptions obtained over the Internet and/or from suppliers of prescription drugs from the Internet are not considered to have been given for a legitimate medical purpose."
Under the Talent Wellness Program, an initial positive test triggers to a 30-day suspension and a second positive leads to a 60-day suspension. A third positive yields a termination.
After Benoit's death, Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) contacted the WWE requesting more information on the Talent Wellness Program. In addition to the rash of recent wrestler deaths, Congress has expressed concerned that the WWE counts more than more 500,000 kids among its weekly viewership.