July 17, 2007 / 8:51 PM / 13 years ago

Steroid found in body of dead wrestler Benoit

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and son before hanging himself, injected steroids not long before he died and his son had been sedated, a medical examiner said on Tuesday.

Joel Lynch (L) and Barbara Mann look at the floral tributes left at the home of professional wrestling superstar Chris Benoit in Fayetteville, Georgia, June 26, 2007. Benoit, who killed his wife and son before hanging himself, injected steroids not long before he died and his son had been sedated, a medical examiner said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Nicknamed “The Rabid Wolverine” and “The Canadian Crippler,” Benoit, 40, was found dead with his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son, Daniel, on June 25 in their suburban Atlanta home. Police labeled the deaths a murder-suicide.

Dr. Kris Sperry, Georgia’s chief medical examiner, said toxicology tests found drugs in all three Benoits — notably, elevated levels of steroid testosterone in Chris Benoit and the anxiety drug Xanax in his 7-year-old son, Daniel, an indication that he was sedated before he was killed.

Investigators said they could not conclude from test results that steroids contributed to the deaths.

There has been speculation that the murder-suicide by a bulked-up professional wrestler might be a case of “roid rage,” a theory that steroid users can become uncontrollably violent.

Investigators said they found anabolic steroids among prescription drugs in Benoit’s house and would try to determine if they played a role in the deaths. Testosterone can be used by athletes to improve performance and is considered a form of doping in some sports.

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., Benoit’s employer, said after his death that Benoit had passed a random drug test in April.

The testosterone in Benoit’s urine, about 10 times the normal level, indicated that he had injected the steroid within a “reasonably short period of time” before he died, but Sperry said he could not draw any conclusions from that evidence.

The elevated level “is an indicator that he had been injecting testosterone, but how much, how frequently, how often and for how long is something that cannot be answered through this,” he said.

Sperry said the results don’t shed light on what happened in the Benoit house and there was conflicting scientific data on whether steroids spark rage.

“This is a question that basically no one knows the answer to,” he said.

Traces of hydrocodone, a pain reliever, and Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, were also found in Benoit’s body at levels considered normal for therapeutic use. No other steroids were found.

Xanax and hydrocodone at therapeutic levels were also found in Nancy Benoit’s body, which had started decomposing when it was found.

Police said Benoit first killed his wife, who died of asphyxiation. Daniel was apparently killed as he lay in bed, hours before Benoit hung himself with a cord on his weight machine.

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