WWE & Drug Issues Coming Up In McMahon Senate Race

Matt Boone

The following is an article on Linda McMahon from The Wall Street Journal website:

A congressional investigation that began in 2007 revealed that when the company started a drug-testing program in 2006, 40% of its performers tested positive for steroids and other drugs—even though they had been warned the tests were coming. The committee began its work out of concerns arising from the death of Chris Benoit, a WWE star who killed himself, his wife and son in June 2007. The panel found that Mr. Benoit showed positive results in three of four tests for steroids before his death but received no more than a warning.

WWE has no legal responsibility to test wrestlers, but the panel’s chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), criticized it for failure to adequately police itself. The McMahons “tolerated and created an atmosphere in which steroids and performance-enhancing drugs were used by performers, even though those performers were role models for tens of millions of teenage boys who are most at risk for abusing steroids,” Mr. Waxman said in an interview.

Mrs. McMahon said the company never condoned the use of illegal drugs. A spokesman for WWE said Mr. Waxman was a “political blowhard.” The spokesman, Robert Zimmerman, added that the performer’s health was critical to the company’s success, and that its program now includes drug testing, rehabilitating performers and treating in-ring injuries.

Mrs. McMahon’s connections to the WWE came into play early last year, after Gov. M. Jodi Rell nominated her to the Connecticut Board of Education. At a confirmation hearing, one Democratic lawmaker said Mrs. McMahon was marketing “soft-sex entertainment.” Another compared WWE’s website to pornography. Mrs. McMahon won confirmation.

Now, Blumenthal campaign officials say they will highlight Mrs. McMahon’s leadership of WWE. “That experience involves marketing violence, sex and abusive treatment of women—aimed especially at children—while turning her back on steroid abuse,” said Mindy Myers, Mr. Blumenthal’s campaign manager.

Mrs. McMahon said WWE has changed and should be considered in its current form—as a provider, she said, of PG-rated programming, with robust anti-drug and wellness programs for its performers.

“It’s more important to look at where you are today and how you reacted to those issues as they became apparent to you, and the changes that you made and how you adapted and made things better,” she said. “Because, isn’t that what you really want to do in business, in government, and in your daily life?”

Last year, the company changed its drug policy so that a wrestler suspended for testing positive is barred from participation in WWE programs during the suspension. Previously, wrestlers with positive tests could perform if the company deemed it necessary to avoid disrupting a story line. Mr. Waxman had criticized that provision.

Check out the full article online at WSJ.com.

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