Archive for December 22nd, 2009

Linda McMahon’s Husband Vince Fought the Law, and the Law Lost (Part 2 — 1992 Drug and Sex Scandals)

Monday – Part 1, Dr. George Zahorian

TODAY – 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 1992 some of Hulk Hogan’s former wrestling colleagues exposed him as an abuser of both steroids and recreational drugs, in a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times and in an article in People magazine. As a West Coast stringer for People, I reported the latter piece, which was collected in my 2007 book, WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal.

Revelations of WWF drug abuse – spurred by the federal conviction of wrestlers’ steroid connection Dr. George Zahorian, and by Hogan’s lies about his relationship with Zahorian – were soon followed by allegations of both heterosexual and homosexual harassment of company talent and employees. In the latter category, two former wrestlers and key front-office employees, Terry Garvin and Pat Patterson, were implicated.

Another man, Mel Phillips – who supervised setting up the rings at WWF arena shows and also served as a backup ring announcer – was exposed as a pedophile who habitually used his position to exploit hangers-on from broken homes.

Collectively, the WWF scandals had one persistent media forum: the sports and media columns of Phil Mushnick of the New York Post. Thanks to Mushnick’s reporting, a federal grand jury began investigating WWF.

(I am not related to Phil Mushnick, a friend of many years’ standing who wrote the foreword to my recently published book, CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. In 1993 Vince McMahon sued Mushnick and the Post for libel, and McMahon’s lawyers served me with a subpoena. Citing California’s journalist shield law, my attorney got the subpoena dropped. Later the libel suit itself was dropped.)

The most disturbing allegations against Garvin, Patterson, and Phillips were leveled by a former teenage ring attendant, Tom Cole. When Cole sued WWF, and Mushnick and others reported the allegations, all three named WWF figures were separated from the company.

Just before the filming of an episode of the Phil Donahue Show focusing on the scandals, Cole settled his lawsuit. Under the terms, Cole was given back his old WWF job. A short time later he wound up leaving WWF again and for good, claiming that the company had reneged on commitments to him. The last time I spoke to Cole, in 2000, he was married and owned a small business.

Patterson, McMahon’s right-hand man for matchmaking and story lines, had quietly returned to his job as a creative eminence grise just a few weeks after his 1993 resignation. Patterson, now retired, still consults for WWE.

Irvin Muchnick

NEXT: Part 3, 1994 Drug Trial

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December 2009