Wrestling Reality Check: Steroid Smackdown

"Fair warning."

That's how a spokeswoman for the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. described Thursday night's announcement that 10 wrestlers were suspended for drug violations and the WWE's subsequent decision to alter the league testing policy so that as of November, any "talent" who fails a drug test will be publicly identified.

"We've alerted our talent, basically, you've got fair warning," Jennifer McIntosh, a spokeswoman for the WWE, told ABC News. "We believe that publicly announcing the names of performers moving forward is going to act as a deterrent."

McIntosh confirmed that the suspensions, which could last between 30 and 60 days, grew out of cooperative work with the Albany County, Fla., district attorney's office, which has been investigating Florida-based Signature Pharmacy in connection with the fraudulent online prescriptions of steroids and other drugs. The NFL and NBA have also been working with the same prosecutors, McIntosh said. Additional WWE suspensions may follow.

McIntosh would not explicitly tie the punishments and policy change to the high-profile murder-suicide involving Chris Benoit in June, but scrutiny of the rules and regulations of pro wrestling has intensified in the months since the bodies of Benoit, his wife and son were discovered in his Georgia home.

The backlash against pro wrestling has been so great that at the end of September, a congressional subcommittee will hold hearings on the topic. An aide to the House Energy and Commerce Committee told ABC News that Congress has requested documents from the WWE and two other major professional wrestling organizations Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance.

As of today, the WWE had supplied Congress with some of the requested documents, while the TNA and NWA had not yet produced the information for the commerce, trade and consumer protection subcommittee that will hold the hearing. The hearing was called, according to the congressional aide, to take a deeper look at the leagues' drug policies, as well as the enforcement of those policies.

"The extremely high death rate for young men in this sport is pretty shocking," the aide said. "Chris Benoit's death and the whole scenario alerted people that more action could need to be taken."

Rep. Cliff, Stearns, R-Fla., the ranking member of the House subcommittee that will hold the hearing, has come out on the topic in the past, citing the deaths of 89 professional wrestlers between 1985 and 2006 who died before the age of 50.

"Of course, not all of these deaths can be attributed to steroid use," Stearns said. "However, this abnormally high number of deaths of young, fit athletes should raise congressional alarms."

The WWE, citing its previous steroids policy, will not identify the suspended wrestlers. Thursday, Sports Illustrated identified 12 wrestlers who have been tied to the Florida pharmacy under investigation by Albany County, N.Y., District Attorney David Soares.

The reporters who wrote the story had gained permission to accompany federal and state drug enforcement agents when they raided the Orlando, Fla., pharmacy compound in February. Four people were arrested and six doctors were indicted on online prescription drug charges.

It's not clear whether the wrestlers named by the magazine are the same as those suspended, but the New York Daily News reported nine of the same names as clients of Signature Pharmacies.

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