Archive for May, 2009

CHRIS & NANCY Interview on WOC-AM, Davenport, Iowa

My interview about CHRIS & NANCY yesterday with Dan Kennedy of WOC-AM 1420 in Davenport, Iowa, is now up at the radio station’s podcast page. Go to

Irv Muchnick

‘Sex, Lies, and Moneyball’ at Beyond Chron

My new piece for Beyond Chron, “Sex, Lies, and ‘Moneyball,'” discusses the upcoming Steven Soderbergh movie, starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane.


Technical notes

After some hiccups, the Wrestling Babylon blog is back up and running on a new server. We even have the history of posts archived, albeit clunkily.

For now Wrestling Babylon is a no-frills site, but it will be adding some features. You can get here by either or

Also, our “mirror” blog, Chris & Nancy,, will mostly have the same posts as this one moving forward.

CHRIS & NANCY Pre-Orders

CHRIS & NANCY has an
October 2009
publication date. Pre-order
your copy now at
Or reserve your
autographed copy direct
from the author by sending
a $10 US deposit, via
PayPal, to Redesign

The site, the home page of CHRIS & NANCY, is in the middle of being redesigned with new features.

You are also invited to visit:

* CHRIS & NANCY blog

* Irvin Muchnick’s Twitter feed

* Irvin Muchnick’s YouTube channel

ECW Press Releases Cover of Irvin Muchnick’s ‘CHRIS & NANCY,’ Story of Benoit Murder-Suicide

See the new CHRIS & NANCY home


including pre-order information:


ECW Press releases cover image of Irvin Muchnick’s new book “Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro-Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death”

MAY 15, 2009. Toronto. ECW Press has released the cover image of its Fall 2009 book Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death by Irvin Muchnick.

“Chris & Nancy” is expected to be in stores around September 15th, 2009. An image of the front cover, along with the text of the back-cover blurb copy, can be viewed at

Exploring the steroid-fueled world of professional wrestling, this riveting chronicle uses public records, interviews, and investigative analysis to produce the authoritative account of how Chris Benoit killed his wife Nancy, their 7-year-old son Daniel, and himself. Equally revealing was the prelude – an industry lifestyle responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Benoit’s fellow performers, including his best friend, Eddie Guerrero. Eager for its profitable shows to continue without interruption, and desperate to head off calls for regulation, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment, a billion-dollar multinational corporation, published contradictory and misleading timelines of what it knew and when it knew it.

New York Post reporter Phil Muschnick writes in the book’s foreword, “The Benoit murder-suicide was one of the most sensational crime stories of 2007, and it cried out for the scrutiny of someone with a longer attention span and more intellectual integrity than the local authorities, the media, and Congress brought to bear on it. If you can read what Irv has dug up and continue to turn your head, then your powers of denial exceed mine.”

Irvin Muchnick ( is author of Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal, and co-author of Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror That Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport (both ECW Press, 2007).
Media contact:
Simon Ware,
Publicity Director
ECW Press

Meltzer: Other Astin Dead Patient Was Probably Sherri Martel

In the current Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer covers on the ten-year federal prison sentence of Dr. Phil Astin, Chris Benoit’s personal physician, for overprescribing medications. I earlier noted that the harsh sentence was driven in part by information from the prosecutors that two Astin patients other than Chris and Nancy Benoit had died as a result of the doctor’s practices, and that one of them was Mike Dunham (”Johnny Grunge”). Meltzer reports that the description of the other dead patient suggests that she was Sherri Martel, another former wrestling personality.

Meltzer also has this:

“Chris Benoit’s father spoke after the sentencing, saying he was hopeful that all of Chris’ medical records would be made available to him, which the government wouldn’t allow with the Astin case still pending. Michael Benoit has been convinced that Chris’ actions were entirely due to brain damage from repeated concussions. The Toffoloni side of the family has privately believed that it was more of a drug cocktail, the combination of steroids and other prescription drugs, perhaps with concussions playing a part, that led to the what happened.”

Irv Muchnick

ARCHIVE 5/12/09: Benoit Doc’s Sentence: 10 Years

Benoit Doc’s Sentence: 10 Years

May 12th, 2009

Dr. Phil Astin, who prescribed Chris Benoit a ten-month supply of steroids every three to four weeks, has received a ten-year sentence from a federal judge in Georgia after pleading guilty to 175 counts of overprescribing drugs to patients. See

Prosecutors said two of Astin’s patients died as a result of his actions, and that neither of them was Chris or Nancy Benoit.

I don’t know the second, but one would seem to be Benoit’s good friend and ex-wrestler Michael “Johnny Grunge” Dunham.

Irv Muchnick

ARCHIVE 5/11/09: ‘Manny Being Canny: The Myth of the Ramirez Drug Suspension (full text)

‘Manny Being Canny: The Myth of the Ramirez Drug Suspension (full text)

May 11th, 2009

[originally published at Beyond Chron on May 5,]
By Irvin Muchnick

Don’t buy that hill of beans from the Beantown-centric baseball media on the supposed flaky innocence of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez, who yesterday was suspended for 50 games for failing a drug test.

ESPN’s Peter Gammons, who must have practiced in front of a mirror to keep from bursting into laughter while delivering his lines, said this was “not steroids” but rather “a personal medical issue,” and “I thoroughly believe him.” Major league baseball, Gammons averred, “has a very tough drug policy.”

So after enabling a generation of cheating, the Lords of Baseball overnight decided to bust their most charismatic performer on a technicality? Not since the dregs of Camelot hustled up to Hyannis Port to prep Ted Kennedy for his Chappaquidick speech has a New England hero received such fawning instant analysis.

Gammons added that before the Ramirez story officially broke, he checked the rumor with someone in the front office of his former team, the Boston Red Sox, which “he does not have good relations with,” and the official said he didn’t believe “for a second” that Ramirez could have done anything wrong. As if the Red Sox, regardless of the tone of their divorce from Manny last summer, were eager to volunteer information that would taint their 2004 and 2007 World Series championships.

Two months ago, after the first leaks of Alex Rodriguez’s steroid history from Selena Roberts’ book, Gammons allowed A-Rod to wiggle in an exclusive interview with a Pinocchio account of how he fooled around with a performance enhancer, whose name he didn’t even know, only from “around” 2001 through 2003.

Hint: When you want the goods on a baseball scandal, don’t look to insiders like Gammons, a nice guy who built his career on his vaunted “access,” marinated with Boston and baseball and Boston-baseball sentimentality.

For the facts on Ramirez, try another ESPN source: Mark Fainaru-Wada, the former San Francisco Chronicle writer who, along with Lance Williams, authored the Barry Bonds book Game of Shadows. Fainaru-Wada also co-authored a report yesterday identifying Manny’s illegal drug as HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, “a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle.”

Like pitcher Paul Byrd, Ramirez appears to have been caught with his hands on his gonads. In the 1990s, the rationalization of choice was what was known as the “Brian Bosworth excuse,” named for the football linebacker who, when nabbed red-handed, spun it as use of “corto-steroids” – therapy for an athletic injury – rather than “anabolic steroids.” Hulk Hogan, that sterling character witness, tried the same lame defense after the federal trial of a Pennsylvania ring doctor uncovered FedEx records of his many shipments to Hogan.

Today we’re at a new stage of these lies. A generation of “former” steroid and human growth hormone abusers, who may have done it when it was “legal” and then stopped, now have diminished natural production of testosterone by their own endocrinological systems. They need help … in the bedroom. And as we all know, you have more confidence on the field if you scored the night before.

I discussed this piece of legerdemain in my October 24, 2007, Beyond Chron article, “Byrd Flies With Sports’ Newest Scam: Hormone Replacement Therapy.” Spontaneous male adult-onset hormone deficiency at the ages of professional athletes, I noted, “is about as rare in non-steroid users as the torn triceps and pectorals that are so widespread today because unnaturally massive muscle groups overload tendons and give out.”

I was writing four months after pro wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and their 7-year-old son before killing himself. Benoit had repeatedly passed drug tests under World Wrestling Entertainment Orwellian-labeled “wellness policy.” Later investigation showed that Benoit actually tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone (his post-mortem toxicology reports registered astronomical levels), but was given a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of a “therapeutic use exemption,” or TUE. The doctor issuing WWE’s TUE’s, Tracy Ray of Dr. James Andrews’ famous sports medicine clinic in Alabama, later would acknowledge to staffers of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that “there was shadiness in almost every case.”

But let’s not blame Manny Ramirez. He isn’t a fake wrestler who made $500,000 a year and couldn’t get it up any more. He’s a wacky real baseball player who makes $25 million a year and can’t get it up any more.

Follow Irvin Muchnick – author of the forthcoming Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death – at,, and

ARCHIVE 5/10/09: ‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Amazon Pre-Order Links for Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan

‘CHRIS & NANCY’ Amazon Pre-Order Links for Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan

May 10th, 2009

CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and  Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death is now available for pre-order through Amazon in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, as well as the United States. Here are the complete current links:






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May 2009