As this article talks about it, steroids are coming under scruitny in many sports, after the Chris Benoit murder and Barry Bonds /baseball BS

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Professional wrestling it’s called, is an oxymoron laughable enough to rival any of the tough guy slapstick routines that go on in these staged matches. If professional is supposed to mean masterful or legitimate, well someone has the wrong sport. That would be, ironically enough, the altogether serious and gimmick-free pursuit of amateur wrestling, a noble sport in the Greco-Roman tradition.
Professional wrestling — really, where’s the prefix “un” when you need it — used to be a harmless enough mix of faux sport and more genuine freak show. The competitors, er, performers make for a beefed up, buffed up carnival act more than anything else. Entertainment with a touch of athleticism made for a very popular and lucrative business, all right.

Only now there’s this problem in a world where regulation is little more than a rumor. Steroids are present in wrestling, too, just like in other sports with real rules and some means of enforcing them.

Abuse of anabolic steroids are at the center of the investigation of the self-destructive rampage that wrestler Chris Benoit went on last month, killing his wife and 7-year-old son and then hanging himself. Mr. Benoit had almost 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system. Testosterone is, of course, a synthetic version of the primary male sex hormone. It is regarded as an anabolic steroid.

No, that doesn’t automatically mean that steroids are what drove someone to kill his family. But it does require taking another, deeper look at the dangers posed by such substances.

“I can see no valid reason why anybody would be taking that much testosterone. He abused controlled substances,” says Dr. John Xerogeanes, who teaches sports medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and is the team orthopedic doctor at Georgia Tech. “And then you put that with the probable mental issues he had.”

Not so compatible with the family fun niche that the outfit known as World Wrestling Entertainment covets. Its statement, in the wake of new information about the deaths of Mr. Benoit and his family — that he didn’t test positively for steroids when he was screened in April — is of very limited significance.

“All it means is that scientifically, it’s now known that sometime between April 10 and when he died, he had treatment with testosterone,” says Jerry McDevitt, a lawyer for World Wrestling Entertainment. “That’s all it establishes.”

But that’s quite enough. Professional wrestling now has this in common with sports where such a designation comes entirely more naturally. Outside authorities need to look ever closer at abuse of substances that can tarnish the integrity of games and, worse, ruin the lives of those who play them.

 

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