Steroids Still Stalking Linda McMahon

Linda McMahon, the Republican wrestling impresario, has crept to within striking distance of Richard Blumenthal in the Connecticut Senate race. But news that a 29-year-old former WWE wrestler died over the weekend of heart failure is bound to be a setback because it puts a spotlight on an issue--steroids--that's McMahon's Achilles heel. Why is steroids a problem? Because professional wrestling is rife with steroid abuse that has killed, or probably killed, a small army of current and former employees of McMahon's company, WWE. (It's not clear that the wrestler who died, Lance McNaught, had abused steroids...but how many 29-year-olds die of heart failure who haven't?) The problem is serious enough that even Congress has gotten involved.

McMahon has tried hard to avoid talking about the issue, and probably for good reason. A recent and very good Weekly Standard profile of McMahon described some of the carnage--and it's enough to give anyone pause about McMahon's fitness for office:

[McMahon's] problem is that over the last few decades, professional wrestlers who worked for the WWE have been dropping dead at a terrifying rate... In 2007, WWE star Chris Benoit killed his wife and son before committing suicide. Benoit was 40. (Steroids were found in his house.) Eddie Guerrero, another former WWE champ, was found dead in a hotel room. The cause of death was heart failure. He was 38. Bam Bam Bigelow, Mike Awesome, Crash Holly, Umaga, Yokozuna, Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith, Rick Rude, Big Boss Man, Earthquake, Curt Hennig, Hercules, Big John Studd, Road Warrior Hawk, Chris Kanyon, Andrew "Test" Martin--all of these former WWE stars have died in recent years. None was older than 46. This is a partial list.

Keith Pinckard, a medical examiner who tracks pro wrestling deaths, has calculated that wrestlers have a death rate 7 times higher than the general population and are 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than other Americans in the same age groups.


Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In