In a story that appeared in The Washington Post on 8/16 on drugs in professional wrestling called “Death Grip: Pro Wrestlers’ Grim Cycle: Pain, Drugs and Doom,” Dr. David Black, who conducts the WWE Wellness tests, commented on the amount of wrestlers who have tested positive on the tests since its implementation in February 2006. According to Black, “less than half” of its performers came back with positive results during the initial test in February 2006. Keep in mind, after Eddie Guerrero died and Vince McMahon announced that they were making a Wellness policy, he told the wrestlers to get off whatever they were using. So even with three months notice, “less than half” still failed the initial test. By that notion, the percentage of guys using stuff when Guerrero died must have been pretty high to say the least. Since then, Black estimates that there have been “sporadic” cases of positive tests, involving about 15 percent of performers. In a letter sent to Congress, WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt noted that 157 performers were tested in October 2006. A recent press release stated that WWE currently has 160 performers under contract. If what Black is saying true, at least 24 people have been suspended since the policy was implemented. However, that doesn’t even include released talent, which would make the amount of performers being tested in the policy’s history much higher, which would then increase the amount of suspensions that have occurred as well. So 24 performers having been suspended due to the WWE Wellness policy would be the low-end estimate. The performers flying under the radar likely involve wrestlers (or perhaps referees) on the low end of the totem pole in WWE. The mystery wrestlers were likely guys in developmental, in which case not too many people would have noticed, or wrestlers who often don’t appear on house shows anyway due to space limitations. This especially rings true for SmackDown and ECW stars because they have to share the card on all house shows, which leaves a lot of wrestlers off of them.
Without further ado, here is the list of the known Wellness Policy violations — fifteen in all. Expect ten more performers to be added to the list as early as this weekend.
Randy Orton – Suspended twice; in April 2006 and August 2006. What lead to Orton’s first suspension was when he decided to openly smoke a rolled marijuana cigarette backstage with people present at the March 28, 2006 SmackDown taping in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City the week prior to WrestleMania. An official (Bruce “Brother Love” Prichard) found out about it and notified other people in management. Orton was already in hot water with management over several past infractions and that action was the straw that broke the camel’s back. On April 4, 2006, Orton was suspended for 60 days for “unprofessional conduct.” While suspended, Orton spent four weeks at an anger management clinic in Atlanta. Orton returned to action on June 7, 2006 for a feud with Kurt Angle.
Orton was suspended again in mid-August 2006 for a Wellness Policy violation. After the liver enzyme deal broke out, which ruined a number of matches for the Great American Bash in July 2006, Vince McMahon made the decision to dock pay from all Wellness Policy violators for however long the suspension would last, while keeping them on the road in the meantime. McMahon wasn’t fond of the suspensions ruining ongoing storylines, so that’s why he made his decision. Violators would continue to work television, but be kept off house shows. At the time, Orton was in the midst of a high-profile feud with Hulk Hogan as they were building towards a match at SummerSlam, and there was no way that they were going to remove him from television. Orton kept appearing on television, but without pay. He was removed from house shows for a little over a month. His last match at a house show event was on August 12, 2006. He didn’t appear at another house show event until September 20, 2006 during a tour in Mexico. To save face, Orton claimed that his house show hiatus was due to him moving into a new home with his fiancÃ©e — which is actually true, however, he was indeed serving a suspension during this time frame as well.
It would appear that Orton has two strikes against him, but more than likely, only has one strike against him. In the original WWE drug policy that was introduced on February 27, 2006, when it came to marijuana, if not legally prescribed by a physician, any use of it would fit under violation of the new policy. The original policy stated, “Any Talent who is arrested, convicted or who admits to a violation of law relating to use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution of prohibited drugs will be in material breach of contract and subject to immediate dismissal.” Orton was indeed in possession of marijuana, seeing how he was openly smoking a rolled marijuana cigarette backstage at the SmackDown taping the week before WrestleMania 23. However, the company doesn’t test for marijuana, not to mention that the company labeled his suspension as “unprofessional conduct.” So well, it would appear as though that Orton’s first suspension was more of a conduct violation in WWE’s eyes, rather than a Wellness Policy violation because it didn’t involve law enforcement like in the case of Rob Van Dam. Orton doesn’t appear to be danger of being terminated from the company after what WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt said in a recent interview.
McDevitt stated in an interview with Newsday last night that eleven wrestlers were being suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. McDevitt noted than ten of the eleven wrestlers were first-time offenders and that only one individual was a second-time offender. The second-time offender will be suspended for 60 days. He didn’t say anything about a possible third-time offender who would be in danger of being fired. Of the twenty-one wrestlers named as clients of the corrupt Internet drug firm Signature Pharmacy, only Randy Orton and Chris Masters have previous Wellness Policy violations on their respective records — at least that we know of. However, the only wrestler that has been confirmed of purchasing drugs over the Internet after the WWE Wellness Policy was implemented in February 2006 is Randy Orton. Masters wasn’t listed in the Sports Illustrated article so he’s not totally guilty yet. Sports Illustrated noted that Orton received Somatropin, Nandrolone and Stanozolol through Signature Pharmacy from September 2004 until the firm was busted in February 2007. Stanozolol and Nandrolone are anabolic steroids. Somatropin is a Growth Hormone drug. Considering that Sports Illustrated’s findings on Orton would be a direct violation of the WWE Wellness Policy, more than likely, Randy Orton is the second-time offender McDevitt noted that will be suspended for 60 days.
Orton was in hot water last April after causing $30,000 worth of damage to a hotel room in Germany while WWE was on tour. Orton was sent home from the European tour after he was found passed out in the wrecked hotel room. He was never suspended. He was simply ordered to pay restitution for the damage he had caused.
Chris Masters – Suspended in May 2006. Contrary to popular belief, he was suspended for painkillers, not steroids. He subsequently went to rehab. Masters was listed as being a client of Signature Pharmacy on Thursday night, so he could very well be facing a 60-day suspension for a second offense if he purchased drugs from the corrupt Internet firm after February 2006 when the Wellness Policy was implemented.
Joey Mercury – Suspended in May 2006. His suspension was due to painkillers. Due to the suspension, MNM was jobbed out and broken up at the Judgment Day 2006 pay-per-view. Mercury was forced to serve a 30-day suspension, although he stayed off television for six months because he was that much of a mess. He spent a lot of time in rehab during his six month hiatus. The week before WrestleMania 23, he came to work “messed up” at two consecutive house shows. He came to work in no condition to perform again at the 3/26 Raw taping and they had no choice but to fire him. Last month, Mercury was named Ohio Valley Wrestling’s new Head Trainer of the OVW/DCW Beginner’s Class Program, replacing John “Tank” Toland.
Rene Dupree – Suspended twice; in June 2006 and again in February 2007. After being out for several months with a reoccurring hernia injury, but just prior to his return to WWE (for the ECW brand) in August 2006, Dupree got suspended in June of that year for failing a drug test. On the February 20, 2007 edition of ECW, Dupree reformed La Resistance with Sylvan Grenier but the team’s reunion was short-lived after Dupree was suspended the very next day for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. He was also sent to rehab. Because it was his second offense, his suspension lasted for 60 days. He was released from his contract on July 26, 2007, although it is unknown if it was due to another WWE Wellness Policy violation, which would have been his third strike, which would result in a termination from the company.
Kurt Angle – Suspended in late June/early July 2006. Angle was suspended due to an expired prescription for steroids. The date on the prescription had expired, and that’s why he was suspended. Contrary to popular belief, he was never once suspended for pain killers nor was he fired over a failed test.
Rob Van Dam – Suspended in July 2006. WWE suspended Van Dam for 30 days as a result of his drug possession arrest on July 2, 2006. Even though its illegal, WWE doesn’t test for marijuana. Although, its technically banned in the WWE Wellness Policy, and when his arrest became public, the company felt that they had no choice but to suspend him. Sabu was arrested as well for being in possession of drug paraphernalia and nine tablets of Testolactone. He may have been fined by the company, but he wasn’t taken off the road as he worked two days later.
Kid Kash – Suspended in July 2006. The reason for his suspension remains unclear. The news of his suspension circulated on July 25, 2006. His last match prior to the suspension was at the Great American Bash pay-per-view two days before. He didn’t return to action until August 29, 2006. The company let him go on September 27, 2006. It is believed that his attitude was the reason for his release.
Matt Hardy – Supposedly suspended in July 2006, although this one’s unclear. He was reportedly informed of his suspension at the SmackDown taping on July 25, 2006. He worked that night’s SmackDown taping in a loss to Sylvester Terkay. He didn’t return until August 26, 2006 at a house show in Ocean City, MD — a little over 30 days later. That would have been the first show in which Matt would have eligible to return. Hardy claimed that he was taken off the road due to a staph infection, which was indeed true because he posted a picture online showing the infection on his chest.
Ryan Reeves – Suspended in July 2006. His suspension was reportedly due to steroids. After being a contestant for Tough Enough in 2004, even though he had never wrestled in a match, WWE signed him to a developmental contract in 2005. He was in WWE’s developmental system for a little over a year, but he never made the main roster. He was released last January alongside a slew of other talent who the company didn’t see much of a future in. At the time of his suspension, he was one of the most jacked guys under contract to WWE. He is 6’2″ and billed as being 275 pounds — pretty much all of rock solid muscle. Furthermore, if you type in the username he uses for his MySpace page and e-mail account (which he uses to take indy wrestling bookings) at Google.com, ‘silverback247’, one of the search engine listings points you to a site called www.Steroidology.com. The website is an information website on steroids and bodybuilding. Under the Anabolic Steroids discussion forum on the site, there is a post by Reeves. A person under the username ‘supergirl’ talks about going to one of those Fitness conventions. Reeves does a post asking the girl if she can send him her picture. He uses the same e-mail address he takes wrestling bookings with, so it’s obviously him. The post took place three years ago this weekend, just before he did Tough Enough 4. As if that isn’t enough, just after his suspension, Reeves formed a tag team in OVW with Jon Bolen (who has since been released) called “High Dosage.” It is unknown if Reeves is still wrestling as his name hasn’t come up on any indy wrestling shows to my knowledge.
Ryan O’Reilly – Suspended in September 2006. There were plans to call O’Reilly up to the ECW roster in October of last year, but those plans were nixed when he failed a Wellness Test. He was going be in a tag team with with fellow DSW wrestler Derrick Neikirk. The two worked a few ECW house shows that summer as a tag team. O’Reilly is still under contract to WWE and is currently in WWE’s Florida developmental territory.
Balls Mahoney – Suspended in September 2006. Mahoney was suspended for 30 days following a failed drug test. According to reports, the ECW wrestler had indications of the painkiller, Demerol, in his system. Despite the suspension, Mahoney wasn’t completely taken off the road as he continued working television, just not house shows. After the liver enzyme deal broke out, which ruined a number of matches for the Great American Bash in July 2006, Vince McMahon made the decision to dock pay from all Wellness Policy violators for however long the suspension would last, while keeping them on the road in the meantime. McMahon wasn’t fond of the suspensions ruining ongoing storylines, so that’s why he made his decision. Violators would continue to work television, but be kept off house shows.
Drew “Festus Dalton” Hankinson – Suspended in October 2006. Hankinson, who is better known as Festus Dalton these days, was suspended last October for failing a Wellness test. He was a developmental wrestler in Deep South Wrestling at the time.
Andrew “Test” Martin – Suspended in February 2007. Martin was suspended for failing a Wellness test — pretty much due to steroids. WWE actually held his suspension off for a little over a week so that he could wrestle in his scheduled ECW title match with Bobby Lashley at the Royal Rumble. Martin was released from his WWE contract on February 27 over some sort of disagreement with the company. In a recent post on his MySpace page, Martin argued that steroids shouldn’t be an issue in pro wrestling because it isn’t a sport. He also compared taking steroids to getting a tattoo. Martin has since surfaced in TNA under the name “The Punisher.”
Chris Kay (referee) – Suspended on at least two occasions. Chris Kay was a referee on SmackDown. He was fired in July 2007 due to repeated drug test failures. In the spring, he was under a 60 day suspension for his second drug test failure. Presumably, he failed a third test, which calls for an immediate dismissal from the company.
Jeff Hardy – Suspended in July 2007. He was definitely suspended, although it is unknown if it was due to failing a test. The reasons behind this suspension remain unclear. The story with the most truth seems to be that he was suspended due to behavior/maturity issues. The webmaster of his website said on Jeff’s behalf that he was taking time off due to a neck injury. He may have suffered a neck injury — he suffered a stinger in his last match (with Mr. Kennedy) before the suspension — but that wasn’t the reason he was taken off the road.
Starting with Hardy’s suspension, he was completely taken off the road, even if it ruined his ongoing storyline with Umaga. On the heels of the Benoit tragedy and Congress looking over their shoulder, WWE’s going to be a whole lot harder on violators when it comes to doling out suspensions, even if it means ruining ongoing storylines. Hardy was actually eligible to appear at SummerSlam because his suspension had ended a few days prior to the event, but they wanted to show to him and other wrestlers that they mean business by making him miss his huge pay-per-view payoff. It was estimated that Hardy lost $100,000 during his suspension because he’s out of all his house show money, his downside guarantee for 30 days, and of course the SummerSlam payoff — which can be tens of thousands. The idea is to send a message to talent that if you get suspended, not only are you out for 30 days, but you’re off TV and the PPV build-up as well, even if you are eligible to appear on the PPV by that point.