Evening Benoit Update: WWE Confirms Daniel’s Illness, Says Chris’ Steroids Were from Legal Prescriptions; Chris and Nancy (Separately) Saw Chris’ Doctor Before the Murders; Bret Hart and Road Warrior Animal Interviewed


In a story broken by Alex Marvez, a syndicated sports columnist who has been posting Benoit updates over at WrestlingObserver.com, it has been confirmed by WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt that WWE has information confirming earlier reports that Daniel Benoit was indeed suffering from Fragile X syndrome, an inherited mental impairment/form of mental retardation that often is combined with autism. According to Marvez, “Chris Benoit’s personal physician [Dr. Phil Astin] met with him the day of the murder” and “Nancy Benoit spoke with Astin the day before her murder to try and gain information about treating her son Daniel.”

The latest versions of the Benoit story by the Associated Press, which can be found at Yahoo! News (most recent) and AccessNorthGA.com, include new details on the tragedy:

  • Astin, Chris Benoit’s personal physician who also says he was Chris’ friend, met with him the same day he allegedly killed his wife. Astin told the AP that Benoit “was in my office on Friday to stop by just to see my staff … He certainly didn’t show any signs of any distress or rage or anything … I’m still very surprised and shocked, especially with his child Daniel involved … He worshipped his child.”
  • According to Astin, he had prescribed testosterone to Benoit, who suffered from low amounts of the hormone, likely from previous steroid use. He would not say what medication, if any, he prescribed to Benoit the day of the visit.
  • In the first story (AccessNorthGA.com), WWE’s McDevitt told AP the following, regarding Chris and Nancy Benoit’s struggles with Daniel’s condition: “Him and Nancy were clearly struggling about this whole issue, about how to take care of Daniel … I don’t know what he confronted when he went back into the house … No one really knows that. We’ll have to see. Clearly this issue of the son was a stressor on both of their relationships for some time.”
  • The newest AP story (Yahoo!) includes this quote from McDevitt: “I think it’s fair to say that the subject of caring for that child was part of what made their relationship complicated and difficult, and it’s something they were both constantly struggling with … We do know it was a source of stress and consternation.” The story goes on to say that WWE learned from Chris and Nancy’s friends and relatives that these struggles included the question of where to send Daniel to school now that he had completed kindergarten as well as Nancy wanting Chris to be home more often to help take care of Daniel (but she reportedly didn’t want him to quit wrestling).
  • District Attorney Scott Ballard clarified that, according to the autopsy, there were no bruise marks on Daniel’s neck (later on MSNBC, Ballard said that there were, however, internal injuries in his throat area, and that the previously-reported ‘track marks’ on Daniel were old). This is leading them to assume by “process of elimination” that Daniel could have been killed by Benoit using a choke hold.
  • On the allegations that Benoit bought steroids from MedXLife, a company under investigation for selling steroids, HGH and testosterone over the Internet, MedXLife co-owner Dr. Gary Brandwein’s attorney Terence Kindlon said “I’ve only read that [his client’s company sold steroids to Chris Benoit] in the paper. I have no direct information about that whatsoever.” He added that Albany County, NY, prosecutors were trying to “distract everyone’s attention from the fact that their case is disintegrating.”
  • WWE attorney McDevitt said all of the steroids found in Benoit’s home were legitimately prescribed: “We know which doctor prescribed it … There’s no question, none of these drugs are out there, none of these drugs came from Internet pharmacies.”
  • The newest AP story closed quoting Dr. Todd Schlifstein, a clinical assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine, as saying “Just as you have the extreme high of when you’re on steroids, you can get the opposite … You can have a dramatic difference in mood swings. You can feel there’s no hope, there’s no future.”

    In other related news:

    – WWE.com has posted a story on Daniel and Fragile X syndrome here, which includes an interesting quote from “a co-worker and long-time friend of the Benoits” who “speculates that perhaps the pressures of home and Daniel’s illness had gotten to him, causing him to snap and take the lives of his wife and son before taking his own.”

    – Albert Ching of the Arizona Daily Star has a Chris Benoit blog up.

    – A local Georgia blogger writes about why he’ll “miss” Chris Benoit.

    – The Washington Post site has a story up entitled “WWE and USA Wrestle With Fallout From Chris Benoit Case.”

    – FoxNews.com has posted an in-depth story on Nancy Benoit’s wrestling career. On the O’Reilly Factor today on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly took the stance that Nancy should have left Chris after the “tell-tale signs” were there that this wouldn’t end well (citing the domestic abuse charges and the reports that Daniel was possibly injected with human growth hormone as reasons). A video of O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” on the subject can be seen here.

    – Also Fox News related, the Debra Williams story from earlier today was on the main FoxNews.com page. The Benoit story, covered pretty much everywhere, was also the lead story on CNN.com (thanks to Dr. Keith Lipinski for that).

    Forbes.com has a story on the tragedy and how WWE has handled itself so far.

    – District Attorney Scott Ballard was on Good Morning America today (story) as well as on WTAM-1100 in Cleveland (story), discussing details of the tragedy. He’s also been on Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck (CNN/HN) as well as other news outlets answering questions. On Beck’s show, the host – like O’Reilly – suggested that Nancy Benoit was at fault for sticking with Chris Benoit and that her son’s welfare should come first. Ballard noted that there were posters and action figures of his father in Daniel’s bedroom, and that while they are still looking to confirm that there wasn’t “a third party” involved, he is pretty sure this is indeed a double-murder/suicide as originally stated. Jack Singer, PHD, a sports psychologist, was also on the Beck show, saying that steroids combined with painkillers can lead to an “organic psychosis” which can last for weeks. “This was a psychotic rage, not a normal person who decided he was mad at his family,” he said.

    – On the Nancy Grace show, Bret Hart (who Grace put over huge as one of the best ever) was interviewed, saying that everyone that knew Chris didn’t know him like this; “he was a real good loving man that was respected by everyone who knew him.” Bret said that “I never saw him lose his temper, he was always someone that was very caring, he was a good guy … any wrestler that I can think of anywhere loved this guy. If there was any sort of cry for help to any of these wrestlers they would have been there for him, including Vince McMahon I think.” When asked about steroids, Bret said that when all the facts come out, this will be more about domestic issues than steroids, which Bret stated WWE clamped down on after Eddie Guerrero, and that the company has what he believes is a “legitimate and honest program” in place. He says that this is about “someone who had something eating at him inside that maybe nobody knew anything about” and went on to talk about how he knew Chris since he was 10, knew he would be a wrestler when he was 15, that Chris “worshipped wrestling” but put “too much pride in his (wrestling) character” and “one of the pitfalls of being a wrestler is you live the character 24 hours a day and it’s hard to differentiate between” the wrestling character and real person.

    – On the Fox News Channel, in another interview, Greta Van Susteren interviewed Bret Hart, who covered a lot of the ground already discussed. One new thing was Bret saying he spoke with Chris Benoit’s other children, from a previous relationship. He said: “Well, they’re hanging in there. They’re a tough family and a strong family. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. They’re as confused by this as everyone else. [Benoit’s oldest son is] trying to stay strong. I already spoke to Chris’s sister. They are devastated by it, but they’ll get through it.”

    – On MSNBC, Dan Abrams spoke with Road Warrior Animal (Joe Laurinaitis, brother of WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis). Joe tried to steer the discussion to talk about the issues inherent in the wrestling business other than steroids that could have led to behavior like Benoit’s (and others who have died too young), such as workers not getting any time off, etc., but most of the interview was about steroids. According to a report of the appearance on PWTorch.com, when asked about “‘roid rage,” Joe said: “I’ve seen roid rage, and to me I think it’s a crock what O’Reilly is doing to try to get these ratings and calling it roid rage. I’ve never seen a 48 hour roid rage. Most roid rages i’ve seen have been five minutes and then you apologize for blowing up. You’re blood pressure is up and you’re blowing a cork. I just think there are so many contributing factors… I’ve seen Chris with his son Daniel. Chris loved that little boy. There was something else psychological happening to have him flip out and blow his cork like that and do what he did.”

    – A Pulse Wrestling reader sent in these notes from an interview that took place last night (Tuesday) on sports radio 810 WHB, Kansas City, of former Byte This producer and RAW writer Chris “Big Country” Gough on with Dave Borchardt:

    *Chris said that 80 percent of the guys in the lockerroom could’ve done this and it wouldn’t have been too surprising, this however he said was stunning and would’ve never expected it from Benoit.

    *Great guy, great family man. Always seemed to take pride in his family and that they were always exceptionally nice.

    *Talked to some friends at the WWE and to say that everyone in the company was shaken up when they first heard about, would be an understatement. Apparently, as soon as everyone found out, the writers obviously didn’t have the heart to write anything and were pushing for the CW to air a movie on Friday instead of having to write a Smackdown show.

    *Thinks WWE has handled it very well and RAW was damned if you, damned if you don’t. Clearly nobody thought that Benoit would’ve been a murderer, so they felt they were pretty safe airing a tribute just a couple hours after they found out.

    *Said that while Benoit might not have tested positive on April 10th, you really have to fail a drug test pretty badly because Vince sets the bar pretty high for a positive test. (Which surprised me, because I thought Vince washed his hands of that and had the 3rd party do everything, including setting the rules.)

    *Said all they test for is steriods, and HGH is not a part of the testing.

    *Agrees with the WWE that it doesn’t sound like ‘roid rage, but with the media it’s not going to matter to them. Believes the media will see it as If steriods, even legally, were there, it was ‘roid rage. If steriods are present in the tox reports, no matter how small amount, the media will still believe its ‘roid rage. No way to change their mind because it’s the easiest excuse and answer for them.

    Any reports from radio or television interviews relating to the Benoit tragedy can be sent to me by clicking the below feedback button.

  • Matthew Michaels is editor emeritus of Pulse Wrestling, and has been since the site launched.