Archive for May 20th, 2009

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 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090512/ap_on_re_us/us_wrestler_dead_doctor.

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, http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Manny_Being_Canny_The_Myth_of_the_Ramirez_Drug_Suspension_6902.html.]
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 http://twitter.com/irvmuch, http://muchnick.net/babylon, and http://freelancerights.blogspot.com.

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:

U.S. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1550229028/ref=pe_11480_11961020_emwa_email_title_1

CANADA http://www.amazon.ca/Chris-Nancy-Murder-Suicide-Wrestlings-Cocktail/dp/1550229028/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241979367&sr=8-2

U.K. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chris-Nancy-Murder-suicide-Wrestlings-Cocktail/dp/1550229028/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241979448&sr=8-1

GERMANY http://www.amazon.de/Chris-Nancy-Murder-Suicide-Wrestlings-Cocktail/dp/1550229028/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books-intl-de&qid=1241979549&sr=8-2

JAPAN http://www.amazon.co.jp/Chris-Nancy-Murder-Suicide-Wrestlings-Cocktail/dp/1550229028/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1241979627&sr=8-3

ARCHIVE 5/8/09: Link to ‘Manny Being Canny’ at Beyond Chron:

Link to ‘Manny Being Canny’ at Beyond Chron:

May 8th, 2009

http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Manny_Being_Canny_The_Myth_of_the_Ramirez_Drug_Suspension_6902.html

ARCHIVE 5/8/09: Kitsch King Obama’s BCS BS (full text)

Kitsch King Obama’s BCS BS (full text)

May 8th, 2009

[originally published at Beyond Chron on May 5, http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Kitsch_King_Obama_s_BCS_BS_6885.html.]

By Irvin Muchnick

This is what happens when the president-elect goes on 60 Minutes to promote the creation of a college football national championship playoff. Last week Congressman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, held a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection on this urgent issue, questioning Bowl Championship Series coordinator and Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford in the opening volley for what Barton is calling the College Football Playoff Act of 2009.

Among Barton’s pearls of statecraft was the money quote: “They keep trying to tinker with the current system and to me it’s like — and I don’t mean this directly — it’s like Communism. You can’t fix it. I think they should change the name to the BES — Bowl Exhibition Series — or just drop the C and call it the BS system because it isn’t about determining a champion on the field.”

There was no word on whether the bill would get stuffed with such pork-barrel measures as improved health and safety standards for “student-athlete” gladiators who are pushed to the limit and beyond in 12-month-a-year training regimens, leading one to croak every couple of years.

Let’s not even get into whether these unpaid mercenaries are entitled to a fair share of the profits that their prime-time spectacles produce for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its members. No, the revenues are reserved for the “educators,” the coaches, and their shoe sponsors. To operate otherwise would be too much like — and I do mean this directly — Communism.

As it turns out, your correspondent knows a thing or two about the ways of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Two years ago the then-ranking minority member, Florida Republican Cliff Stearns, weaseled into the wall-to-wall cable TV news coverage of the murder-suicide of pro wrestler Chris Benoit by proposing legislation to force the wrestling industry to adopt Olympics-level testing for steroids.

Stearns acted after Mark Kriegel, a columnist for FoxSports.com, called for Congressional involvement in wrestling’s pandemic of occupation-related deaths. Kriegel quoted my just-published book Wrestling Babylon, whose appendix listed 89 deaths of pro wrestlers under age 50 from 1985 through 2006 — a list Wrestling Observer Newsletter publisher Dave Meltzer called understated. In his press release and media shots, Stearns cited the numbers from my book, without attribution.

The crusading congressman soon lost interest in the subject and moved on to the Telecommunications subcommittee, though not before making a televised appearance at a show at the Funking Conservatory, a wrestling school run by retired great Dory Funk Jr. in Stearns’ Ocala district. Funk gave Stearns a signed pair of wrestling boots.

The reformist baton was passed to the chair of the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush. Coincidentally, Rush is the only politician ever to defeat Obama, who challenged Rush’s reelection in the 2000 primary.

Rush huffed and puffed. In November 2007 the congressman promised hearings combining the wrestling issue with the findings in major league baseball’s just-released Mitchell Report. In February 2008, the subcommittee grilled the heads of all the legit major sports leagues and their players’ union chiefs — but not World Wrestling Entertainment chair Vince McMahon, who claimed his lawyer had a scheduling conflict.

“I am exceptionally and extremely disappointed,” Rush said. “… I want to assure Mr. McMahon that this committee fully intends to deal with the illegal steroid abuse in professional wrestling. And we hope he will be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

It was a bigger sham than WrestleMania. Though the public didn’t yet know, Rush himself had to know that McMahon had already given testimony to another Congressional committee — in a closed-door interview two months earlier with staffers of Congressman Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

At the time, the lead investigator for Waxman, Brian Cohen, reviewed the ground rules that had been negotiated. “Our intention was that you were able to come in here without having a media circus,” Cohen purred.

Never one to foster media circuses, Congressman Waxman proceeded a few weeks later to stage an internationally televised hearing to probe, among other things, whether an abscess on baseball pitcher Roger Clemens’ ass cheek was caused by repeated injections of human growth hormone by his estranged personal trainer, Brian McNamee. Clemens heatedly denied this but acknowledged that McNamee had given HGH to Clemens’ wife Debbie prior to a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. And the Republic survived the revelation, even if Clemens’ reputation didn’t.

Getting back to Obama and his high-priority war on the BCS, one of the questions arising from his first 100 days is exactly when, if ever, he will be held to account for his descents into frivolousness and bad taste. He certainly got away with yukking to Jay Leno that his poor bowling scores were like “Special Olympics.” (Obama also, deservedly, has gotten high marks for changing the tone of American foreign policy, and other achievements.)

Maybe the explanation is that the president is a fox, and his BCS BS is a diversionary tactic, to pacify yahoos like Congressman Barton while Obama hits one out of the park with his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Whatever the outcome, this is all about the uses and misuses of kitsch in an epoch of bread and circuses. The brilliant Czech writer Milan Kundera has defined kitsch as “the absolute denial of shit.” Kundera added, “Whenever a single political movement corners power we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch.”

America’s saving grace, so far, is that our kitsch is bi-partisan.

Regular Beyond Chron contributor Irvin Muchnick’s forthcoming book, 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. YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/WrestlingBabylon. Twitter page: http://twitter.com/irvmuch.

ARCHIVE 5/7/09: Benoit Author Muchnick on the Manny Ramirez Story — Tweet By Tweet

Benoit Author Muchnick on the Manny Ramirez Story — Tweet By Tweet

May 7th, 2009

Manny suspension: Read my ‘97 “Byrd Flies With Sports’ Newest Scam, ‘Hormone Replacement Therapy,’” http://snipr.com/hk868 [muchnick_net]

***

Chris Benoit got a “therapeutic use exemption” for testosterone injections because years of steroid abuse shut down his own production.

***

More from my ‘97 piece: “adult-onset hormone deficiency … about as rare in non-steroid users as [now common] torn triceps and pectorals.”

***

Peter Gammons of ESPN is lame on the Manny story — just as Gammons was in his interview of A-Rod. “Insiders” won’t do the grillwork.

ARCHIVE 5/5/09: ‘Kitsch King Obama’s BCS BS’ (at Beyond Chron)

‘Kitsch King Obama’s BCS BS’ (at Beyond Chron)

May 5th, 2009

Last week Congressman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, held a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection in the opening volley for what Barton is calling the College Football Playoff Act of 2009. Among Barton’s pearls of statecraft: “They keep trying to tinker with the current system and to me it’s like — and I don’t mean this directly — it’s like Communism. You can’t fix it. I think they should change the name to the BES — Bowl Exhibition Series — or just drop the C and call it the BS system because it isn’t about determining a champion on the field.”

As it turns out, your correspondent knows a thing or do about the ways of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Two years ago the then-ranking minority member, Florida Republican Cliff Stearns, weaseled into the wall-to-wall cable TV news coverage of the murder-suicide of pro wrestler Chris Benoit by proposing legislation to force the wrestling industry to adopt Olympics-level testing for steroids.


full text at “Kitsch King Obama’s BCS BS,”
today at Beyond Chron:

http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Kitsch_King_Obama_s_BCS_BS_6885.html


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