NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — World Wrestling Entertainment has suspended 10 of its wrestlers for violations of a policy that tests for steroids and other drugs, the company said Thursday.
Stamford-based WWE says it issued suspension notices based on independent information from the prosecutor's office in Albany County, N.Y., which has been investigating illegal steroid sales.
Neither the WWE nor the Albany County district attorney's office would comment on the suspended wrestlers' identities Thursday. No criminal charges were filed, they said.
Under a WWE wellness policy instituted last year that requires tests for steroids and other drugs, a wrestler faces a 30-day suspension without pay for a first violation, a 60-day suspension for a second violation and firing for a third violation. Performers are tested at least four times per year.
"We are very actively working to eradicate the use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs in the WWE," WWE spokesman Gary Davis said. "Today's action is part of that effort."
WWE officials met this month with New York prosecutors investigating illegal steroid sales. Albany County prosecutor P. David Soares' office has said that pro wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his family before hanging himself in June, and other WWE wrestlers had been clients of Signature Pharmacy of Orlando, Fla. Investigators say Benoit had a steroid and other drugs in his system at the time.
When Soares' office began investigating the illegal sale and distribution of controlled substances, he said, his office sought the help of WWE after a number of its wrestlers appeared on customer lists of clinics connected with Signature Pharmacy.
Nine people, including three current or former physicians, have pleaded guilty, most affiliated with Internet and phone-order companies that filled orders for anabolic steroids and growth hormones through Signature and sent drugs to customers around the country, including Albany County.
Signature's owners have pleaded not guilty.
The Benoit case prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask WWE to turn over any information it has on steroid and drug abuse in pro wrestling. The committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on the case.
WWE said the company's practice has been to not release the names of suspended wrestlers, but the company has notified performers that starting Nov. 1 the names of those suspended for violating the policy will be made public.
WWE has about 160 wrestlers. WWE shares closed Thursday at $14.80, down 21 cents.