WWE: 5 Flaws in the Wellness Program

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WWE: 5 Flaws in the Wellness Program

WWE's latest version of its Talent Wellness Program was introduced in February of 2006, just three months after the death of main eventer Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero was seemingly clean at the time but died of heart failure caused by arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, found in the coroner's report that also revealed Guerrero had enlarged organs synonymous with excessive long-term steroid abuse.

Although an admirable move by WWE, they were understandably accused of locking the gate after the horse already bolted—being reactive, rather than pro-active. After Dr. George Zahorian's 1991 conviction for dealing steroids and other drugs to WWF wrestlers, Vince McMahon attempted to alleviate the pressures on him by introducing testing to his WWF and his WBF bodybuilding venture.

Having spent millions of dollars on the failed WBF venture—an experience that wouldn't faze McMahon in pursuing the XFL project a decade later—Vince found that the bad publicity was so damaging it was costing the WWF too, hence the drug testing procedures conducted by Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc. The boss himself was, of course, brought to trial anyway in 1994, but he was not found guilty of any conspiracy to influence his stars to abuse steroids via Zahorian.

Incredible Hulk television star Lou Ferrigno left the WBF following the introduction of their drug testing program, which was arguably the finishing blow to the troubled enterprise. Similarly, the WWF struggled to hold on to top names around this time, including Sid Justice, British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, the Ultimate Warrior, and even Hulk Hogan—who jumped to rivals WCW, which did not appear to conduct thorough testing.

While McMahon tried to promote a "New Generation" of stars with smaller physiques and greater skills— including Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels—the WWF ironically became so browbeaten that it quietly abandoned its drug testing initiative in 1996.

With a rule of "three strikes and you're out," WWE's current Wellness Program, now six years old, should be applauded—not least for identifying potentially life-threatening illnesses in wrestlers such as MVP.

But there are problems with it, so much so that it can be as much a curse as a blessing for the professional wrestling industry.

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