Benoit doctor arrested; WWE hangs tough

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Federal authorities charged Chris Benoit’s personal physician with illegally dispensing drugs Monday, a week after authorities discovered that the pro wrestler had apparently killed his wife and young son before hanging himself.

The seven-count indictment of Dr. Phil Astin, of Carrollton, Ga, came the same day as Benoit’s employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, told Newsday in a statement that it “will make any improvements necessary” to its wellness policy, which tests WWE performers for steroids and other substances.

Astin is charged with dispensing drugs, including painkillers 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. Investigators have conducted two raids at Astin’s west Georgia office since last week.

Astin was expected to make an initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

Authorities in Benoit’s suburban Atlanta community last week found large quantities of prescription drugs, including anabolic steroids, in his home following their discovery of the bodies of Benoit, 40, his wife Nancy, 42, and their son Daniel, 7.

Police say Benoit likely strangled his wife and choked his son to death before hanging himself Sunday June 24 using the pulley cord on a weight machine.

Some experts believe steroids can cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as “roid rage.”

Shortly after the discovery, WWE officials said in a statement, “It is entirely wrong for speculators to suggest that steroids had anything to do with” the deaths.

In a statement released Monday, WWE stood by its drug testing policy, saying it is “one of the most aggressive of its kind compared to testing programs initiated by competitive sports organizations, and is unique for an entertainment company.”

While declining to address any specific criticisms of the policy, WWE said in its statement that it “will make any improvements necessary to maintain it as a state-of-the-art program to the utmost betterment of our performers, fans, and business partners.”

“It was designed to send a very clear message that WWE finds the abuse of drugs and steroids to be unacceptable,” the statement said.

However, some critics have said WWE’s wellness policy needs to be improved, including by having stricter standards on what constitutes a drug test failure, and by implementing psychiatric and neurological screening.


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