Wrestling smacked down by latest steroids revelation

March 21, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- What's the world coming to when you can't even trust the phony sports?

The latest revelation to come out of the Albany, N.Y.-based steroid/human growth hormone investigation is that 11 professional wrestlers are among those whose names have shown up on the customer lists of pharmacies that have been busted for filling illegal prescriptions for banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Say it ain't so, Rey Mysterio.

No one was surprised to hear those lists contained the names of major league baseball players. That's almost old news. Baseball has been knee-deep in the steroid mess since Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti blew the whistle on the national pastime several years ago.

Certainly, no one would be shocked if the next set of names to come out includes football players and track and field stars. Those two sports have been under steroid suspicion for decades.

But please, not The Hurricane. Not former Olympian Kurt Angle. These guys are the fake heroes of a whole generation of kids - including my own - and now their names are being soiled along with all the sleazy mainstream professional athletes who have turned big-time sports into the public relations equivalent of a chemical spill.

Maybe I was just naive, but I kind of figured that if the sports that were supposed to be bastions of fair play were actually cesspools of performance-enhancing-drug abuse, then the one sport that unabashedly promotes bad behavior had to be on the up-and-up.

Think about it. World Wrestling Entertainment is totally about breaking the rules. It's about glorifying social misfits who sucker-punch their opponents and gouge at their eyes in a carnival of crass conduct meant to appeal to our basest instincts. What could be more honest than that?

When I was growing up near Los Angeles in the pre-WWE era, college kids from USC and UCLA would crowd into the old Olympic Auditorium to cheer on legendary bad guy Freddie Blassie.

"Bite, Freddie, bite!" they would chant, and Freddie would not disappoint.

The point I'm trying to make is this: Professional wrestlers are supposed to cheat. Even the good guys have to bend the rules to overcome the evil impulses of the their villainous counterparts, and that is all part of the traveling passion play that has generated billions of dollars for Vince McMahon and the shareholders of WWE.

When you watch those pumped-up giants throw each other around the ring like so many 300-pound potato sacks, it's not illogical to assume that they're all using human growth hormone - or maybe even inhuman growth hormone. I guess I just figured that if some of the wrestlers were actually cheating, they would just incorporate it into the show.

C'mon. Do you really think they'd hold congressional hearings to find out if some guy who dresses up like Hitler in a leather Speedo is on the juice? It's professional wrestling. There's a character called Boogeyman whose face is painted like that guy from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. There's the aforementioned Mysterio, who was known largely for his ridiculous-looking masks until his name was recently linked to the hGH scandal. It's not like somebody has to look out for the integrity of the game.

I realize that pro wrestling has faced this kind of suspicion in the past. McMahon once beat charges that he pressured wrestlers into bulking up on steroids, and drug abuse was linked to the death in 2005 of veteran wrestler Eddie Guerrero, whose name was among those revealed this week.

WWE dealt with the issue by instituting a steroid testing policy after Guerrero's death, which was as good as an admission that the psuedo-sport was riddled with steroid abuse.

I just chose not to believe it ... for sort of the same reason I chose not to believe Pete Rose when he recently admitted to betting on every Cincinnati Reds game when he managed the team. After all the lies and deception, why would anyone take anything he says at face value now?

Now, all my illusions have been shattered.

Pro wrestlers on steroids? Who knew?

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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