The New York Daily News says Nancy Benoit’s family claims Jim Ross wasn’t invited to the funeral, even though he attended, and talks with medical experts about WWE’s spin of the testosterone found in Chris Benoit’s boxy.
Ross responded to this in his blog:
I was asked to attend the services of Nancy and Daniel Benoit by the WWE to represent the company and I did so willingly. At no time did I want or attempt to create the alleged “media stuntÃ¢â‚¬Â that some ill informed journalist in New York City has written about. As reported, I did respectfully sit in the back of the church, but by no means was I the first to leave the church and walked out of the church, after the services had concluded, with Dean Malenko and Fit Finlay along with Vicki Guerrero. I did wear my hat, as I usually do when I leave my home for trips, but obviously not in the church. I spoke perhaps 60 seconds with the media as I was getting out of the car and out of the rain, while putting on my jacket, before entering the church and did not have a “press conferenceÃ¢â‚¬Â nor had I planned on even talking to the media. I may have answered 2-3 questions at most. The media wanted to talk to me again after the service and I declined. I did not bring up the “steroid issuesÃ¢â‚¬Â but merely answered the very first question out of the media’s mouth and attempted to dispel that topic quickly as I was not there to discuss anything, much less “steroidsÃ¢â‚¬Â. It has been written that “sources sayÃ¢â‚¬Â I was not an invited guest to attend the service. That is true but I never realized one had to be invited to attend any funeral service. In my last blog, I wrote of my true feelings and emotions of this experience. If I am made a scapegoat or a villain by the media thru “sources sayÃ¢â‚¬Â then so be it. I honestly and sincerely went to Daytona to pay respects to Nancy, a long time friend, who I had known since the 80’s, and to her son Daniel who I had known since his birth 7 years ago. I will have lasting memories of this service forever and I still cannot articulate how badly I feel for Nancy’s family and friends over their loss. If my attending this service was an inadvertent distraction to the family, then I apologize, but I can assure all who matter, that my intentions were honorable and I was not sent to Daytona to do “damage controlÃ¢â‚¬Â as some have speculated. I do know that Nancy would have appreciated my paying respect to her memory. Nonetheless, some have “piled onÃ¢â‚¬Â yours truly for simply doing what I thought was best. Selected letters and comments by some fans on wrestling websites recently inferring such are hurtful and just plain wrong. I know what is in my heart and I know what my intentions were in attending the service so let others say what they wish, as I know the truth.
The rest of his latest blog entry, including Ross’ response to reader feedback on a variety of issues, can be read here. Another notable excerpt:
The likelihood of a “wrestlers unionÃ¢â‚¬Â as you mention is about as likely as old J.R. waking up tomorrow weighing in at a nifty, buck sixty five. You saw how former wrestlers act when they are given a chance to communicate on one common issue, recently on the infotainment news shows. It has been, at times, embarrassing. I do think that more services can be made available to all wrestlers by their respective companies and feel that the system in place to assist all talents will be ever evolving. Financial planning, the management of wrestler’s schedules, the physical and mental well being of all performers, etc should be a focus just as it is in other entities such as the NFL, MLB, etc., none of which are without issues.
In other news, WWE Champion John Cena was on Larry King Live on CNN after the toxicology reports were released, and had this exchange with the show’s host:
[LARRY KING:] …Investigators say that Benoit had steroids, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and a painkiller in his system last month when he did the killings. According to the tests, his body had 10 times the normal level of testosterone. His wife tested positive for therapeutic levels of Xanax and painkillers. And his son had a high level of Xanax, indicating he likely was sedated at the time of his death.
What do you make of that, John?
JOHN CENA, WWE CHAMPION & SUPERSTAR, WORKED WITH CHRIS BENOIT: I make that the media kind of jump to conclusions. You can see that Dr. Kris Sperry said that there were elevated levels of testosterone. Chris tested clean for all anabolic steroids. Granted, the testosterone levels were high. But Kris Sperry also went on to state that even with his elevated levels of testosterone, there is no link between high testosterone level and the behavior that happened in the Chris Benoit murder.
This is — this is one of the things where the media, when the people seized — when the authorities seized Chris Benoit’s house, they found anabolic steroids. So immediately the media wanted to latch onto that. Now the theories on whether or not Chris sedated his children — or his child or his wife before suffocating them both, that is what it is. It’s just theory.
Like I said, Larry, the last time I was on the show — and thank you very much for having me back — what we have is an unexplainable tragedy. And people will theorize about this for as long as they want to, similar to the murder of president John F. Kennedy. But it will be just that.
The toxicology report is out and it’s obvious. Even with elevated levels of testosterone, Chris tested clean for anabolic steroids.
KING: All right.
But it’s obvious, also, to assume, John, that he must have — and maybe in an act of kindness in this weird case — given the 7-year-old Xanax so that he would be relaxed and sedated.
CENA: No, you’re right, Larry. But like you just said, it’s an assumption. And like with most of the details in this case, just because there was no — there was no note. This is not a telltale suicide. This really was an act that came out of left field. And because there’s no answer, the media wants to point to an answer. And that’s why the steroid issues comes up. That’s why the painkiller issue has come up. That’s why all these things have come up.
But like I said, this really came out of left field and I think this toxicology report proves it.
KING: What are your confreres saying, the other people in wrestling, your pro-wrestling partners and the like, what are they saying about this story?
CENA: Larry, we’re doing the best we can to make sure our life go on and my livelihood and our business goes on. The only one thing that has really hurt me and really that I take so sour about this whole situation is how the media shifted its focus from this horrible tragedy to our business, and has gone on degrading our business and how we handle our business.
The WWE has a substance abuse testing policy. It tests for performance enhancing drugs and illegal narcotics. Chris Benoit tested in April 2007 and was clean. So, by the toxicology report, what should have happened between April and the day that these acts were committed is Chris supplemented testosterone. That’s all. That’s it. Plain and simple.
But it’s a shame that the media has shifted its focus to the WWE, which tries so hard to protect and maintain the integrity of its athletes.
KING: In fact, the WWE’s statement is, on Mr. Benoit’s last drug test in April, administered by Aegis Labs, A-E-G-I-S: “He tested negative for anabolic steroids and for testosterone. Given the toxicology report of GBI released today, it would appear that Mr. Benoit took testosterone sometime after his April 2007 tests.”
How often are you tested, John?
CENA: I — since the testing began in February 2006, I’ve been tested six times. It’s a — the drug testing policy is administered so that each athlete, each performer gets tested four times a year. So I’m probably due for another two tests before the year’s at end. But it’s done at random, so at least I could be tested four times. At most, you could be tested any amount of times.
But the bottom line is four times per year guaranteed.
KING: Any penalty for testing positive?
CENA: The first penalty is a 30-day suspension and a clinical discussion about rehab. The second penalty is a complete six to eight week rehab program. The third penalty is finding another place to work, which I do appreciate because the WWE is not just kicking their talent to the curb. If they have a problem, the WWE is trying to make steps to fix it rather than just eliminate it. So they’ll try twice to help you out and if you can’t be helped, then obviously you have to go elsewhere for work.
KING: What do you make, John, of the large amounts of testosterone?
What do you make of it?
CENA: Obviously, Chris supplemented testosterone between April and the time of the tragedy. Now —
KING: I mean but why?
What do you take — what do you take it for?
CENA: I don’t — I’m not a doctor. Larry, I don’t know. And that’s something that I’m really uneducated about. I wish I could help you out there, because maybe that would help us. Maybe that would give another theory to what’s happened.
But as far as testosterone supplementation, I — I can’t give you an educated answer, so I don’t even want to theorize.
KING: John, thanks, as always, for joining us.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
CENA: No, thanks for having me back, man.
I appreciate it.
KING: John Cena, the WWE champion and superstar.
By the way, we did a whole show on this last week with John, Brett “The Hitman” Hart, Chris Jericho and others. If you missed it or wanted to see it again, it’s available by pod cast and you can download it at cnn.com/larryking or on iTunes.
The full transcript to the show can be found here.
Cena also spoke with Fox News Atlanta, who claimed that 10-20 years ago was when the wrestlers were all partying “like rock stars” and implied things are different now, with WWE being more of a business, with stockholders to keep happy. He said he’s never had pressure to take steroids or pain medication and has been tested several times this year by Aegis Science.
Other WWE superstars are now speaking out, including some of Chris Benoit’s best friends. For my thoughts on Chavo Guerrero’s recent appearance on Fox News, click here. William Regal spoke to Fox Atlanta about his own past addictions as well as the Benoit family tragedy. In the segment, Regal says that Benoit was given four months off when he requested it last year, and he could have taken care of any problems he had in that time. “He could have asked for help. If he chooses not to ask, there’s nobody else that can help him,” said Regal, who also claimed that many of today’s drug issues started in the now-defunct WCW, and that in a past era, drug tests were easier to pass. He said that he hopes to wrestle for three more years, until he’s approximately 42 years old, and then transition into commentating.