Friday, August 31, 2007

The Gas

So the latest steroid-related shoe has dropped at WWE - as of right now, 18 current and past performers have been fingered in the latest Benoit-driven scandal. At least the 18 named wrestlers had been customers of Signature Pharmacy in Florida, which is apparently a major source source of muscle enhancing drugs in the athletic world.

Currently on the active roster:

Chavo Guerrero
Shane Helms
Randy Orton
John (Nitro/Morrison) Hennigan
Ken (Kennedy) Anderson
Sho Funaki
Charlie Haas
Eddie (Umaga) Fatu
Adam (Edge) Copeland
Darren (William Regal) Matthews
Anthony (Santino Marella) Carelli
Robert (Booker T) Huffman
Chris (Masters) Mordetsky)

Deceased:

Eddie Guerrero
Chris Benoit
Brian Adams (retired six years ago)

No longer with WWE:

Sylvain Grenier (released about a month ago)
Mike Bucci (retired, he's a trainer now at WWE's "farm team" in Louisville)

The one thing I will say in defense of some of these performers is that in most of the articles on this so far, when dates are given virtually none of them have purchases after this past winter (I may have missed one). Many are farther in the past. What this shows is that for years, steroids, HGH, and related drugs were incredibly common in wrestling. After Eddie Guerrero died in November 2005, a lot of performers either stopped or cut back their usage. And after roughly a years worth of the WWE "wellness policy" in place (since February '06), most of them had made their last purchases. I do suspect that the problem is getting somewhat better.

What this shows more (to me) is that there's a slippery moral slope in this area, and that steroid users don't fit into the neat stereotype of "muscle freaks". William Regal (I use his ring name because more people know it) is known for having overcome serious drug and alcohol addiction problems, and is serious about it to the point that he will not even step foot in a bar. Yet he was buying steroids by mail. Sho Funaki, Mike Bucci, and Santino Marella are small guys without very muscular physiques. Regal's not a chiseled and toned guy. Umaga is a big fat Samoan how even uses his fatness as part of his gimmick. It really takes all types. Also, some of these guys (we'll see) have admitted to past steroid use (Edge, Helms, Kennedy), typically in the course of rehabbing injuries. No new news about Edge or Helms there, but Kennedy claimed to have stopped using them when WWE put their policy in place, yet he continued to buy them until this past winter (he could probably argue that he was using them as part of his rehab - he was out injured much of 2006 and may be able to show a scrip). It's possible that a few of them will be able to show legitimate use. I doubt many.

There is, though one factor to the WWE investigation in general that bugs me. In case nobody's paying attention, pro wrestling is not a sport. It's a performance, but more like circus or theater. The results are pre-determined, and audience entertainment is the reason they perform. It's not like real sports, where the use of steroids has a real effect on the results (say, a guy like Barry Bonds breaking the all-time home run record, for instance). As much as I would like to see steroids out of wrestling, I'd much rather see them out of real sports first. Let's have our priorities straight.

Next: my solution to steroids in wrestling...

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