WWE

WWE TLC: Time for WWE to show how steroid abuse is being tackled

Barnaby Read 22/06/2016
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WWE owner Vince McMahon.

Back in 2006 the WWE implemented a Talent Wellness Program that aimed to take better care of its Superstars.

The move was a welcome one for many observers who had seen the wrestling world lose many of its biggest names, Eddie Guerrero’s untimely death being the catalyst for change.

Finally, there were measures in place to address steroid abuse and the health risks associated with this kind of artificial bulking that has plagued the industry for decades.

But a decade later, it is hard to see any real evidence of change within the culture of wrestling and this week one of the WWE’s biggest names was suspended for violating this policy.

Roman Reigns had lost his WWE Heavyweight title just a couple of days before the announcement that he would be barred from the company for the next 30 days for breaching its policy.

It must be said that no details have been released to say Reigns’ was a drug violation – the WWE confirms names and suspensions but not specific offences – but ten years on from the Wellness Program’s creation it raises questions.

Harking back to the infamous Hulk Hogan trial that implicated owner Vince McMahon in regimented steroid abuse, through the deaths of Guerrero, Chris Benoit, the Ultimate Warrior, Mr Perfect and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and the jacked-up days of the Attitude Era, there’s always been a problem.

All the sudden deaths are alarming for a single profession; the affect of steroids on the heart are unavoidable as exemplified by many of the above, while the mental health issue in the case of Benoit is also one to cause grave concern.

It is a serious problem that seemed like it was being seriously addressed, but how much people are actually adhering to the program must be explained.

When asking WWE Superstar Jack Swagger in Abu Dhabi a year ago about the WWE’s stance on steroids – as part of a feature on how wrestlers train – you could hear a pin drop in the room.

Swagger explained that there was better education and that wrestlers were more aware of the dangers of steroid abuse.

It was a perfectly reasonable answer and one that was encouraging, without going as far as showing a definitive end in sight to such abuse.

However, in return, we were asked not to use the answer and taken to a room that night and told that WWE has no problem with steroids and that we had no right to be asking such questions.

The official in question was interrupted by a more senior member of the WWE team who was more co-operative once we questioned how outrageous that level of censorship was.

It is not something to be taken lightly, the WWE must not only instigate but actively demonstrate real change in order to end the health risks that threaten to take away Superstars who are beloved the world over.

These Superstars must also take responsibility, knowing that they are idols to so many kids that look up to them and are now well aware of the lengths they go to in order to possess such an immense physique.

Much like the photo shopping of images and the threat body image can have on young women in the modelling world, aren’t these male role models as accountable for the message they put across?

Wrestling will more than likely remain a profession that openly and regularly utilises drugs and maybe the best we can hope for is this “medical use” of drugs that so often sneaks in otherwise prohibited substances thanks to a doctor’s certificate and murmurings of pain control are so frequent in this so physically demanding world.

Until then, the education must continue from top to bottom and some more transparency should be given to instances such as this.

Maybe Reigns instead fell foul of cardiovascular testing, maybe he didn’t.

Maybe Brock Lesnar isn’t “juiced up to the gills” like his UFC 200 opponent suggested, maybe he is.

For the sake of wrestlers’ well beings and the example they set to their adoring, largely young, male audience, the discussions must begin to take hold and the education continue more vocally.

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Top superstar and former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns was suspended for 30 days for a violation of the WWE Wellness Policy.

Shortly after the announcement, Reigns took to Twitter to apologise.

The WWE Wellness Policy was put into place in February 2006, shortly after the death of Eddie Guerrero.











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