WORLD Wrestling Entertainment has suspended 10 of its most popular stars for violations of a policy that tests for steroids and other drugs.
WWE said yesterday that it issued suspension notices based on information from the prosecutors investigating illegal steroid sales.
The clamp-down on performance enhancing drugs - which are believed to be widely used by wrestlers to bulk up - was prompted by the murder-suicide of star Chris Benoit.
Benoit killed his fellow-wrestler wife and seven-year-old son before hanging himself in June, in a murder-suicide believed prompted by his prolonged steroid use.
He and several other WWE wrestlers had been clients of Signature Pharmacy of Orlando, Florida.
Under a WWE drug-testing policy introduced last year, wrestlers face a 30-day suspension without pay for a first violation, a 60-day suspension for a second violation and dismissal for a third. The company has about 160 wrestlers, and they are tested at least four times a year.
Actor and former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said yesterday he hopes the company continues to lay the smackdown on performers who are using muscle-building drugs.
Sports Illustrated's website listed 14 wrestlers who were sent drugs through the mail. Three of those performers - Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Brian Adams - are dead. Ten are still with the WWE, which is facing congressional scrutiny following Benoit's death.
Johnson said he wasn't happy to hear that the industry in which he thrived before shifting his acting skills to Hollywood still struggles with steroids.
"These guys have to be armed with the knowledge and understanding of how bad these drugs are and the dangers of mixing these drugs with the lifestyles they lead," he said.
Johnson wrestled in the WWE earlier this decade at the same time as Benoit.
"I was blown away," Johnson said of the tragedy.
"I had a chance to work with Chris on many occasions. He was a great guy and I knew his wife very well. "The guy I knew wasn't the guy who committed these heinous crimes.
"I've stopped trying to figure it out because Chris had wiring that allowed him to do that where anybody who was sane couldn't fathom doing that."