World Wrestling Entertainment’s CEO Linda McMahon appeared on GMA this morning to discuss the Benoit family tragedy this morning. Robin Roberts said that at first steroids were being focused on as the possible cause, but that Danie Benoit suffered from Fragile X syndrome may not be a factor. She then said, “We’ve also learned that Benoit was about to be demoted by the WWE” (I guess the movement to ECW, since it’s a third-tier brand, could be seen as a demotion) and went to Linda.
Linda was asked if Benoit was about to be “demoted from a main wrestler to a lower role as a coach.” Linda said no and she wasn’t sure where that came from. She noted that Chris was a big part of one of their three brands. She said that we have to go by the facts as they get them. She said the actions of Benoit were out of character for those that knew him or worked with him. Linda described Benoit as a “mild manner guy, no one had ever seen him get angry. He was private but he was a good friend, he was a locker room leader, he was supportive of the young men who came in the organization.”
Linda said that over the last 48 hours the company has become aware of Daniel Benoit suffering from Fragile X syndrome. When asked if they were previously aware of it, Linda said they weren’t, nor were they aware of any tension in the home. Linda said they weren’t even aware that Nancy had filed for divorce in 2003, saying they were never aware of any strife between Nancy and Chris because it didn’t manifest itself in WWE’s presence. .
When asked if they knew Chris had been served with a 2003 restraining order, Linda said, “Absolutely not. The only time we’ve ever seen Chris with Daniel or with Nancy, and I had personally, I sat next to a breakfast table at one of our events, Wrestlemania and he was a loving and kind father. He was with another wrestler and his wife and family. The boys were playing. This was absolutely, we don’t know what snapped inside of Chris…” and said they are just learning now that the investigators are starting to focus on the management and school and rearing of Daniel Benoit. “We’ve learned that Nancy wanted Chris home more but his job was on the road. We have found that Chris would fly home for 4-5 hours just to be with Daniel. All of this is so totally incongruous to what we knew.”
Linda was asked if, when looking back now, if there was any emotional turbulence of mood swings. Linda said in 2006, Chris asked for time off and was given four months. Linda said they were happy to do that that anytime their talent say they need time off, they are “welcome to do that.”
The comments by Steve Austin’s ex-wife Debra Marshall were brought up. Linda was asked what the company was doing about steroid abuse in wrestling. Linda said that within their profession, she can only speak of WWE, commenting, “We have always had a drug policy since the late 80s. We’ve morphed from street drug testing to steroid testing to more comprehensive testing which we have now. Our Wellness Policy, as we call, was put into policy in February 2006 and we test for steroids, we test for drugs of abuse, we test for misuse of prescription drugs, it’s very comprehensive. In addition to that, we utilize the services of New York Cardiologists to make sure that we are checking and helping our talent who live this very rigorous lifestyle so they can be as healthy as they can be.”
Linda was asked, is there a problem with steroid use and responded, “I can tell you, we’ve had some positive tests and our goal is to eliminate that. Steroids used improperly without a prescription are illegal. 75%? No. We’ve had some positives that would range in the 4-6% and it’s a three tier approach. First time, you are suspended without pay for 30 days. Second time, 60 days. Third time, you’re out.” She didn’t mention that in many cases of late, wrestlers are working without being paid while under suspension.
Roberts thanked Linda for her time and she thanked them for the opportunity.