ARCHIVE 9/26/07: Congressional Wrestling Investigations Intersect with ‘Operation Raw Deal’

Published May 13th, 2009, Uncategorized

Congressional Wrestling Investigations Intersect with ‘Operation Raw Deal’

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

“Congressman demands action” (http://sports.yahoo.com/top/news;_ylt=Ar8rP5eMW.FuvH7u2gqqKRo5nYcB?slug=jo-rawdeal092507&prov=yhoo&type=lgns) is the headline over Josh Peter’s latest follow-up at Yahoo Sports to his report on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Operation Raw Deal,” the biggest steroid and human growth hormone bust ever.

The Congressman is Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia, ranking minority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — one of two committees probing drugs and death in pro wrestling.

DEA is developing a database of the customers of the more than 50 steroid manufacturers and distributors caught in this dragnet. Davis is advocating for those lists to be shared with sports leagues and cross-checked with their athlete rosters. Of course, this is a huge story beyond wrestling. But here’s why the timing of the latest development and the Congressional pressure for transparency at the user level could prove especially dangerous for World Wrestling Entertainment.

Of the 67 male wrestlers listed on the current WWE three brands, 12 were linked to the recent Signature Pharmacy investigation by the Albany, New York, district attorney’s office, points out Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Three major league baseball players were also on the list, along with one National Football League player (plus one assistant coach). But there are 700 current MLB players and 1,700 NFL players.
Meltzer’s take: “As soon as someone brings up baseball or the NFL and says [steroid abuse exists] in all sports, and wrestling is no different, the answer is yes and no. Yes, it does occur in all sports. Yet, NFL and MLB players are far higher profile, but … WWE wrestlers’ names keep coming up with more frequency.”

After the Signature Pharmacy names became public, WWE suspended many performers under its “Wellness Policy.” (Mysteriously, wrestler Randy Orton, who last year was suspended for failing a WWE drug test and who was revealed to have received Signature shipments as recently as February 2007, was not one of those in the latest round of suspensions.) And henceforth WWE has promised to begin naming wrestlers who violate the “Wellness Policy.”

Irvin Muchnick