U.S. Congress Asks WWE for Drug Info (and my thoughts)

ESPN.com is reporting that “In a three-page letter dated Friday, Rep. Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Tom Davis, its ranking minority member, asked [WWE Chairman Vince] McMahon to provide a series of documents intended to give the committee and its investigation a detailed look at WWE’s drug-testing policy, including information about the results of performance-enhancing drug tests on pro wrestlers.” For the initial story click here, for AP’s story on Congress asking WWE for information by August 24 and click here.

WWE has posted the following on its corporate Web site:

WWE Statement On Congressional Letter

The media has provided us with a copy of a letter from the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. We are reviewing this letter and will respond accordingly.

My initial thoughts on this…

  • WWE shouldn’t give them specific names of individuals. Sure, they have no union like MLB, but there’s something to be said for privacy.
  • That being said, I would imagine that WWE’s lawyers have a detailed list of wrestlers, test results, what the punishments were, etc. At least two or three wrestlers I’ve heard about were released due to Wellness Policy-related issues, we’ve read about tons of suspensions, and even before February 2006, people like Eddy and Jeff were reportedly sent to rehab or fired until they cleaned up drug issues.
  • What angle is Congress taking here? They aren’t accusing WWE of distributing illegal steroids, like the gov’t did in the 1990s. If it’s an employee health issue, well… these guys aren’t employees, but independent contractors. If it’s simply a public health issue (“steroids are bad and kids will do them and we can’t have WWE wrestlers doing them and setting a bad example… oh and they’re dying”), what can Congress do really? With MLB, they can threaten to take away their anti-trust exemption, but WWE’s not in the same boat here. I guess Congress can threaten to pass laws regulating the industry, but why stop at wrestling? Are the modeling (unhealthy eating disorders to fit an image), food (rampant drug use to maintain an edge and… stay awake) and other industries next on its list? And besides, wouldn’t something like this fit under the auspices of STATE government, not the Fed?

    I’m not being a wrestling apologist here either, and as upset as I was after Eddy Guerrero died, the Benoit family tragedy had an exponential impact on me as a wrestling fan. Let’s face it, those running the ship at WWE, TNA and all other wrestling organizations need to look in the mirror realize that change needs to happen, and it’s up to them to take the necessary steps to make the industry better (although I believe the big problem is a lifestyle that leads to drug use, rather than simply the drugs themselves). And maybe by threatening wrestling, Congress will force the industry to make changes more quickly than it would have without a little bit of pressure… but it’s mind-boggling to me that Congress would rather put on a show while pretending to care about the health of performers in a niche industry than, I donno, figure out a way to make routine healthcare more accessible to those in this country who need it.

    I posted these thoughts prior to reading the letter sent by Congress to WWE (now available here if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader).