Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 1 — Dr. George Zahorian)

TODAY – Part 1, Dr. George Zahorian

Tuesday – Part 2, 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals

Wednesday – Part 3, 1994 Drug Trial

Thursday – Part 4, The Defense Lawyer, the “Fixer,” and the Playboy Model

Friday – Part 5, Aftermath

Saturday – Part 6, Waxman Committee Interview

Sunday – Part 7, Conclusion

In 1994 World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon – husband of Linda McMahon, current Senate candidate in Connecticut and former CEO of WWE – was acquitted  of federal steroid trafficking and conspiracy charges in a sensational trial on Long Island. This blog series, currently scheduled for seven parts (see post titles listed above), chronicles that episode and surrounding events.

The story begins in 1991, when George Zahorian, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, physician, became the first doctor convicted under the federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which prohibited the prescription of steroids for non-therapeutic purposes.

Throughout the 1980s, Zahorian was the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission-appointed ringside doctor at pro wrestling events in his region of the state. In the early part of the decade, this included the Allentown and Hamburg syndicated television tapings of what was then called the World Wrestling Federation. Zahorian was even fed on-camera roles in several TV story lines (known in wrestling as “angles”).

Dozens of steroid-abusing wrestlers utilized Zahorian, an easy-touch, heavy-duty connection. As the wrestlers lined up for their blood-pressure tests before Zahorian-administered shows in Pennsylvania, they and the doctor openly exchanged cash for bags of drugs. Federal investigators produced voluminous FedEx records of shipments from Zahorian’s office to WWF performers. At the trial, several of these wrestlers confirmed that their shipments had included steroids.

Two key recipients of Zahorian packages who did not testify at the trial were Hulk Hogan, WWF’s most famous wrestler, and Vince McMahon, who, in addition to being the kingpin of the industry, is an obsessed amateur bodybuilder.

Hogan was subpoenaed, but lawyer Jerry McDevitt succeeded in getting the judge to quash the subpoena on the grounds that it invaded Hogan’s privacy and harmed his business interests. Appearing on Arsenio Hall’s TV talk show right after the trial, Hogan denied that he had ever abused steroids – a contention so laughable that it would open the floodgates for accusers to go on record over the next year on a range of internal WWF scandals.

Unlike Hogan and the other wrestlers, Vince McMahon was not subpoenaed for the Zahorian trial. After the doctor was convicted and  sentenced to federal prison, McMahon instituted a steroid-testing program for WWF talent. In the course of announcing the program at a news conference, McMahon conceded that he personally had “experimented” with the anabolic steroid Deca-Durabulin.

Irvin Muchnick

NEXT: Part 2, 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals


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