How Did Ric Flair Fall Through the Cracks of WWE’s ‘Wellness Policy’ Cardio Screening?

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Sad-sack pro wrestling legend Ric Flair – still slicing up his own forehead and taking “bumps” for other promotions in his 60s, three years after “retiring” from World Wrestling Entertainment and being inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame, and landing in deep debt– is the subject of a well-reported article at the sports website See “The Wrestler in Real Life” by Shane Ryan,

Flair has threatened to sue over the non-revelation that he has alcoholic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition. Inasmuch as Flair discussed his bout with this disease in his own autobiography, published years ago, he doesn’t have a ventricle to stand on.

Ever eager to appear to be telling it like it is while doing no such thing, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter rather comically speculates that Flair’s condition maybe, just maybe, got cleared up by medication and is a thing of the past.

Keith Harris of Cageside Seats isn’t buying it. He notes that the medical literature usually defines heart damage as permanent. According to the Wikipedia article on alcoholic cardiomyopathy, “Treatment will possibly prevent the heart from further deterioration, and the cardiomyopathy is largely reversible if complete abstinence from alcohol is maintained.” Given that Flair is still drinking to excess, “it seems highly unlikely that he doesn’t still have the condition,” Harris says.

Where does the WWE “Wellness Policy” fit into all this? Glad you asked.

Talent cardio screening is administered by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center supplement hucksters Drs. Joseph Maroon and Bryan Donohue. (The former, of course, also consults for the National Football League.) The first time she ran for the U.S. Senate, WWE co-founder and former chief executive Linda McMahon bragged that the company cardio program, started in 2006, had “probably saved the life” of a journeyman wrestler named MVP, by catching and treating an obscure congenital condition.

WWE and McMahon wellness-speak, however, has never explained Dr. Donohue’s supervision of 400-pound main event wrestler Eddie “Umaga” Fatu, who had an enlarged heart when he died of prescription drug toxicity in 2009 – six months after being fired by the company and just as he was in negotiations to return.

Below are links to coverage here of the Fatu-Donohue story. By the way, Donohue’s website still promises, after nearly two years, that content is “Coming Soon!” We can’t wait.


Irv Muchnick


Umaga Autopsy Turns Focus to Linda McMahon’s WWE Cardio Program and Docs


Eddie ‘Umaga’ Fatu Autopsy: 406 Pounds, Enlarged Heart


WWE Cardiologist Bryan Donohue’s Supplement Company Has PR Firm That Doesn’t Disclose His Equity Interest


Read WWE Cardiologist Bryan Donohue’s PR For Yourself


Muchnick Flashback: WWE Docs Governed by ‘Private’ Pitt Med Center Ethics Policy


More Cat-And-Mouse Website Games With WWE Doctor-Huckster Bryan Donohue


Timeline of Dr. Joseph Maroon’s Work As WWE Medical Director

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick