Monday, January 5, 2009

Congressional Steroid Investigation - the McMahons

So the findings of the Congressional committee investigating the impact of performance-enhancing drugs in pro wrestling in light of the deaths of Chris Benoit and his family a year and a half ago, were released over the weekend - in particular interviews with the McMahon family - and let's just say that as per usual, they do not come off in the most flattering light. And as we are well-removed from arguable the best and most important work the McMahons do every year - the tribute to the troops show in Iraq - I feel relatively little compunction about bringing them to task on this.

First, and on a less offensive note, was Stephanie McMahon talking about how wrestling was an art form, claiming that Steve Austin - unarguably a gifted wrestler who became a huge star - was a bigger draw in his time than the much less talented Hulk Hogan. An arguable point - although she backpedalled later when she realized she was on the record (can't burn those bridges can we?). However a few things to keep in mind: firstly, let's not undersell Hogan's success, and he was fairly little more than a 'roid monster. His selling poing was his size. Secondly, Austin spent most of the peak of his career plagued by injuries and unable to perform at the level he became known for as a midcarder. While I won't speak to whether or not his recovery times were aided by steroids, painkillers, or anything else, it is also known that he at least had an alcohol problem, if not worse, which manifested itself in abusing his third wife, Debra Williams. Steve Austin is not exactly the person I'd hold up as a shining example of the drug-free environment of the WWE.

But more offensive is Vince McMahon. Upon responding to being asked whether or not he'd used Human Growth Hormone since his steroid trial in 1996, his answer was an unequivocal no. When asked if he'd used any other performance enhancers in that time, he refused to answer - his right, given it was a voluntary interview, but very bad PR. He also went on to explain that he was not subject to the "Wellness Policy" drug tests, as he was not a regular performer on WWE television (his 'injury' which got him off screen basically to this day being timed around those interviews notwithstanding). Again, possibly so - but the culture towards drugs in this industry starts at the top, and Vince's is unacceptable. Hopefully he'll realize eventually his anti-authoritarian, arrogant, 'I don't have to answer to you' attitude doesn't work in the real world, or at LEAST makes himself and the company he represents look bad; somehow though, I doubt it. Major disappointment in the McMahons, although I can't honestly cop to surprise.


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