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Bonds received steroids from lab: report

Vote Quimby

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Zorro

The numbers don't lie. Just take a look at the percentages.
Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do.
Hitting a baseball where someone isn't is kind of hard. Making contact is pretty easy.
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


Well-Known TRIBEr
Human Growth Hormone Tests Eyed in Greece


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - A test for human growth hormone is almost complete and most likely will be introduced at the Athens Olympics.

Human growth hormone, which was previously undetectable, is considered one of the most widely used banned substances in sports. Even if the test is not ready for Athens, officials will be able to retest samples later to punish cheaters retroactively.

"We've never been so close to having a test in our hands," Olivier Rabin, science director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said Thursday.

Human growth hormone, or hGH, works like an anabolic steroid, building muscle mass and helping athletes recover from training faster.

Although hGH has been around for decades, standard doping controls haven't been able to distinguish between the naturally produced hormone and the synthetic version used by cheaters.

Attempts to devise a test for hGH have dragged on for years, with a number of projects stalled by lack of funding.

Rabin said WADA is in the final phase of validating two hGH tests developed by scientists in Britain and Germany. Both involve blood, not urine, tests.

WADA will not announce when or if the test is ready, preferring to keep the drug cheats guessing. Rabin said WADA could also have new tests for blood-based oxygen carriers, illegal blood transfusions, insulin and new steroids.

"There will be new substances detected in Athens, there's no question about that," Rabin said. "We hope hGH is one of them. But we don't want to tell the athletes when it's coming."

Rabin stressed that if a test is not used in Athens, it will be put into practice shortly after the Olympics. The Athens samples will be stored and reanalyzed for hGH once the test is completed, he said.

Retesting of drug samples took place in several sports last year following the unmasking of the steroid THG.

Rabin said WADA had evidence that at least one other steroid devised specifically to avoid detection was circulating in sports.

"We are asking labs if they see any unusual readings to keep the samples and retest them to identify any unique pattern," he said.

Also Thursday, basketball's world governing body became the 24th summer Olympic federation to adopt WADA's anti-doping code, which sets out uniform rules cutting across all sports and countries.

Under the accord, NBA players eligible for Olympic teams will be subjected to out-of-competition drug tests before Athens just like athletes in other sports.

Soccer, cycling, volleyball and badminton are the four sports yet to formally enact the code, but WADA director general David Howman expects all to sign up as required before Athens.
2004-01-29 19:50:02 GMT


TRIBE Member
I'm pretty sure there is a way to test for it. I'm pretty sure it's part of the gamut of testing for the olympics. But it's not really as big an issue at the moment because it's not an illegal substance.

And just on another follow up note of juiced up wrestlers, in the mid 90's when WWF was being meticulous in their steroid testing and firing of wresters who stayed on the juice, the guys got noticably much smaller in the mid 90's. The mid 90's were also the worst years business wise in the history of wrestling.

Although no one can prove that the lack of juiced up wrestlers were the cause of the business drop off, oddly enough, WCW (who didn't test their guys and picked up pretty much every juiced up wrestler that WWF fired) started to do much better business wise.

I don't think it was a direct relationship. But I think it was in some way a contributing factor with having the so called "larger than life" monsters.

edit: I see that Postmod beat me to the HGH bit.


TRIBE Member
Originally posted by deep
Oh for fuck's sakes you crybaby, the flak you've caught has nothing to do with Tribe's shortcomings but your own.

You completely fail to recognize that maybe your behaviour or commentary has something to do with the way people are treating you. It has nothing to do with Tribecool or whatever other bullshit explanation you got.

You overreacted to a joke, but rather than laugh it off, you flipped out. So you got laughed at. Then instead of just saying "whups", you proceeded to defend your overreaction, blaming shit on other people, criticizing their character, criticizing Tribe, criticizing anything but yourself. So you got laughed at some more. Then you busted out some completely impotent threats when it was obvious no one respected your macho bullshit. And so you got laughed at some more.

I know you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer so I'll spell it out : you brought shit on yourself. If you were half the man you feign to be, you'd just recognize this rather than crying like a bitch about how big bad tribe hurt your widdle ol' feelings for no reason at all.

As for your macho posturing, do something. I double dog dare you motherfucker. See what happens. You're the one who brought out shit about bitchslaps, not me. You're the one flipping out over shit on a message board, I've so far just laughed it off. You say you know what I look like. You've got the advantage. So put your money where your mouth is. See what happens.

Or try being a man about making a mistake instead of a whimpering little bitch blaming others for your ridiculousness. In all honesty man I've never met someone who thought they were such a hardass but got their feelings hurt so easily.

Last word's yours, I know your fragile little ego desperately needs it.

(How's that for testosterone in a steroid thread?)

If ignorance is bliss. You must be in your happy place.
tribe cannabis accessories silver grinders


TRIBE Member
It's about time somebody in the media has Barry's back.
Greatest player of our time.

Let's get it straight from the beginning.

This feeding frenzy, the 'Roid Outrage, expressed, by us, about whether Barry Bonds used performance-enhancing dietary supplements or anabolic testosterone-based steroids, is a case of dry and bitter Sour Grapes. Period.


Well, I'll tell you why.

The numbers speak for themselves: Bonds is closing in on Ruth and Aaron.

It's not like you can all of a sudden sneak up and have 700 home runs in the big leagues. There is nothing, absolutely nothing on this green earth that you can eat drink, sniff, inject or rub on yourself that can make you hit 700 home runs in the Show. That product exists only in our collective imagination, and if he did drink the spiked Kool-Aid, so to speak, this would include Bonds.

Because if that were the case, in spite of all the "outrage," bottles of the stuff would be getting knocked back by just about everybody. People who are currently "outraged" would not only use it, they'd have their kids on it.

That's how much baseball, and baseball myth, and money, mean to us.

But you know and I know, deep down inside, there is no such product.

We also know Barry Bonds has 658 home runs. And counting.

The Bonds/steroids issue changed in the last week, with the new San Francisco Chronicle reports that he was sent steroids by Greg Anderson and/or BALCO. There's still a leap from that to him actually taking them, and, if he did, for how protracted a period.

So is that really what all this 'Roid Outrage is about?

Bonds' Gift
Steroids don't help you hit a curveball or determine what pitch is coming next.

So, where does Barry Bonds' genius at the plate come from? In a Sept. 21, 2001, article in ESPN The Magazine, Bonds explained the art of hitting and how his instincts were helping him track down Big Mac's single-season record.

I think so. Want to look in a mirror and see? Let's.

* * * * *

Let's start with Syd Thrift, former general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates when Bonds first came up. Sixteen years ago I went to do a story for Sports Illustrated on Thrift, and on the success of the young Buccos, who were doing well in spite of a low payroll, with players like catcher Spanky Lavalliere, second baseman Jose Lind, outfielder Slick Van Slyke and infielder Bobby Bonilla -- all of whom, it should be noted, are no longer player big-league baseball, which flies in the face of the theory that whatever Bonds has accomplished is chemically-induced. Don't steroids eventually break you down and cause terrible physical problems, rip the tendon from bone and swell organs up and cause muscles to screw and malfunction rather than extend and contract as they do naturally?

But isn't Barry Bonds is out there every year, year after year, performing at the highest level? Where's Jose Canseco? Where is Ken Caminiti? Where is Brady Anderson? Where is Mark McGwire? Isn't that strange, for a man abusing even so much as food, or alcohol, or tobacco, or illegal pharmaceuticals, or certain other alkaloids, to have such longevity? Is Barry Bonds, by all accounts an egotistical sort, secretly sneaking around washing down monster steroids with water from the Fountain of Youth?

Bonds attacks the pitch like it's coming to him in slow motion.

Now back then I didn't know Barry Bonds from the man in the moon. It was Thrift, notorious for poor-mouthing the talent, who keep alluding to Bonds: if Bonds did this he'd be better than Rickey Henderson; if Bonds did that he'd be better than Reggie Jackson; if Bonds did the other he might outhit Willie Mays. Thrift kept coming back to Bonds so much, I began watching him.

I watched his performance closely over the next 15 years, as he won six NL MVPs -- six! -- and p.o.'ed a lot of people in the process.

Now I'm supposed to think he swallowed something that did that for him? Give me a break. This frenzy, this 'Roid Outrage -- and that would include investigations and any political currency shrewdly gained by the current crop of politicans -- seems to me to be rather curiously timed to Barry Bonds being on the cusp of breaking the home-run records of the most iconic figure(s) in all of American baseball history. Really, though, wouldn't you agree, it's mostly all about him passing Babe Ruth, the mighty Babe, and then, oh-by-the-way, Hank Aaron? Isn't it about Barry Bonds breaking those records by "cheating"? Isn't it about fair play, and being "clean," and the "purity" of the game? Isn't it about whether Bonds' records are now "tainted"? Isn't it?

The Steroid Debate
Here's a look at ESPN.com's latest coverage of the BALCO scandal and the steroid debate:

Well, then, let me suggest this to you, and it doesn't matter if what I say now causes such outrage in your heart that you go Romo on me, want to throw your laptop and break my left orbital socket with it. Might be a good idea, as far as you're concerned, but it won't change the truth of it.

Ruth's records are tainted. Aaron's records are tainted.. They were each amassed by human beings performing in imperfect human systems. So of course they're tainted. But I do not blame Babe Ruth, hold it against him, that his records were amassed in a league that prohibited the participation of much of the skilled labor force, the black and the brown, the Latin American or the Asian, the African-Americans from the same land of origin.

I can't hold that against Babe Ruth's records, and I'm pretty sure you can't either. That wasn't his fault. I mean, was he supposed to hold a bus boycott or something? Wasn't his fault the game was not pure. I can't really blame Babe Ruth if his prodigious and voracious appetites for food and alcohol and sex cost him another 86 home runs, which he probably would've hit had he trained harder and taken better care of himself. These are the variables of any given human life. The book says he hit 714 in the big leagues. I can only go by that. For that is the nature of baseball. It is a game that relies on the Book of Numbers, not personal lifestyle choices, to define its champions. All of a sudden, all the pure-number guys, the sabermetricians, are just like everybody else, going off emotion, feel -- they plain don't like Barry Bonds.

How many homers would the Babe have hit if he'd stayed in shape -- or played against African-Americans?

If there was a "pure" era, it was the era between 1947 and, say, 1980, when performance-enhancing drugs became prevalent. That was the era occuring after Jackie Robinson opened up the game, the era of Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Clemente, and to some degree, Barry Bonds' father, Bobby. We all know how Mantle and Bobby Bonds badly damaged their careers with alcohol. We cluck and say what a shame it was -- we do in Mantle's case, anyway. But the book on Mantle says 536 home runs. It is what it is. Aaron says 755, although Aaron played in a stadium called the Launching Pad and hit the last 22 home runs as a DH.

Now we are definitely in an era of performance-enhancing drugs; no need for any of us to be on any high horse about it. Without Toprol or Lotrel, anti- high-blood pressure drugs, or especially Nexium, I'm sure I'd be curled up in a ball somewhere. Do you want to get into all the performance enhancers you take? And is not all of your work still valid? Or, not? Am I supposed to believe nobody actually uses Cialis or Levitra or Viagra, that the companies making them are going broke? Why is it when NFL football players are shot up in their ankles and calves and knees and rib cages and shoulders and necks with pain-killers to numb themselves and then go out and sacrifice their damaged limbs so they can perform for us, we have no outrage over that?

Why is that not "cheating"?

No, something else is happening here.

For some, this is simply an attempt to negate the accomplishments of Barry Bonds. I tend to agree with Bobby Valentine -- I've seen Bonds do things no other human being can do, just as Ruth and Ted Williams and Mantle and Mays and Aaron did things no other human being can do. Muscles don't play baseball. Hands and eyes play baseball. Longevity books it.

Great merit: Six MVPs and ... 756 home runs?

So Barry Bonds remorselessly and relentless marches on, beyond the 660 home runs of Willie Mays, on past the 714 home runs of Babe Ruth, and finally, by the 755 home runs of Henry Aaron. Barry Bonds will become the greatest home-run hitter in baseball history.

And apparently, that's what outrages many people, deep down inside.

It has nothing to do with any steroids. Please. Oh please.

A long time ago I wrote a funny little book called "Why Black People Tend To Shout." Now, if you hear that title and you don't laugh -- then you need to read that book! It is a humorous book. I was taught by the master, Mr. Mark Twain, that humor was the great leveler, that against the power of laughter, nothing can stand. Well, this 'Roid Outrage is funny to me.

What Barry Bonds has done is show great merit in the game. Unfortunately, when you are what is called "black," that can be inconvenient; often when you show merit, the rules on merit are changed to make them more obtuse.

When Aaron was approaching Ruth's home-run record in the early 1970s, all the stories were about how he had to endure all this racist hate mail and kidnapping threats against his daughter -- how he had to endure against the real protagonist, the Status Quo. It wasn't about how great a htter he was.

I'd say that's the part that's cheating. I'd say Aaron got cheated.

It's all fine and good to make up myths about so many events, athletic ones included, that don't contain any African-Americans, and I don't have to list them all here, and in fact don't have time, but sometimes I get the feeling some sports fans would like it better if all of sports history was rather like an episode of "Friends." Fine, when it comes to making movies, and giving out awards, and waxing nostalgic. But it seems to me when a man spends 20 years showing merit, in reality, not fiction, he ought to able to eat his grapes without people saying how sour they are, what a cheater he is, how impure his records are, how what he's doing doesn't count in the grand scheme.

No? That's exactly where he does count.

We don't judge Barry Bonds, friends.

I do fear we only judge ourselves.
Last edited:


TRIBE Member


TRIBE Member
on 3/7/2004

Raymond Fernandez, who was a WWF star in the 80s and a New Japan star in the 90s as Hercules Hernandez, was found dead on Saturday morning, having died in his sleep.

Dewey Robertson announced that Hercules had passed away at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet last night. We have since confirmed the story is true.

Fernandez was living in Tampa. At this point the cause of death is presumed to be a heart attack, pending an autopsy.

He was a heavy steroid user and partier during his wrestling days. He died at the age of 47


Dan Hawkins, 33, who used the ring name Danny Hawke in the central states area, passed away on 2/16/04 in Pusan, South Korea. His death was attributed to heart complications. Hawkins was a heavy partier and major steroid user, who had 3 heart operations over the past three years and his doctors told him it was due to his usage of steroids during his career.

Hawkins said his career highlight was working a few matches with WWF in 1994. He told his friends that at 5' 9" during that period, he believed he needed steroids to make it.

Unlike many, like say Road Warrior Hawk, where you can argue pros and cons, Hawkins, even with massive amounts, from 1992 - 2000, never made any money as a pro wrestler.


TRIBE Member
In today's New York Times there was a good article on Steroids, other drugs and early deaths in Pro Wrestling. It was purposefully timed to come out on the weekend of Wrestlemania.

Decent read none the less.

High death rate lingers behind fun facade of pro wrestling
By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY

Mike "Road Warrior Hawk" Hegstrand died from an enlarged heart caused by high blood pressure at 46. Mike "Crash Holly" Lockwood died from what a medical examiner ruled a suicide at 32. A lethal combination of painkillers was found in his system.

Mike Lozanski died from what his family says was a lung infection at 35. His relatives are awaiting an autopsy report.

All died in the last five months. All were professional wrestlers with bulging muscles on sculpted bodies. The deaths received little notice beyond obituaries in small newspapers and on wrestling Web sites, typical of the fringe status of the $500 million industry.

Yet their deaths underscore the troubling fact that despite some attempts to clean up an industry sold on size, stamina and theatrics, wrestlers die young at a staggering rate. Since 1997, about 1,000 wrestlers 45 and younger have worked on pro wrestling circuits worldwide, wrestling officials estimate.

USA TODAY's examination of medical documents, autopsies and police reports, along with interviews with family members and news accounts, shows that at least 65 wrestlers died in that time, 25 from heart attacks or other coronary problems — an extraordinarily high rate for people that young, medical officials say. Many had enlarged hearts.

Illegal steroid use in professional sports has gained plenty of attention: President Bush in his State of the Union address in January urged athletes and professional sports leagues to stop steroid use, and a federal grand jury has been investigating Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

However, it is pro wrestling where the problem appears to be the most pervasive and deadly. In five of the 25 deaths, medical examiners concluded that steroids might have played a role. Excessive steroid use can lead to an enlarged heart. In 12 others, examiners in medical reports cited evidence of use of painkillers, cocaine and other drugs.

The widespread use of drugs and the deaths associated with it raise questions about a largely unregulated business that is watched on TV and in arenas by an estimated 20 million fans a week, including children. Those fans will tune in Sunday for the industry's biggest event, WrestleMania XX.

Fifteen current and former wrestlers interviewed by USA TODAY say they willingly bulked up on anabolic steroids, which they call "juice," to look the part and took pain pills so they could perform four to five nights a week despite injuries. Some admit to use of human-growth hormones, a muscle-building compound even more powerful and dangerous than steroids. And many say they used recreational drugs.

"I experienced what we in the profession call the silent scream" of pain, drugs and loneliness, says wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, 49, who has been in the business more than 30 years. "You're in your hotel room. You're banged up, numb and alone. You don't want to go downstairs to the bar or restaurant. The walls are breathing. You don't want to talk. Panic sets in and you start weeping. It's something all of us go through."

Scott "Raven" Levy, 39, says he used steroids and more than 200 pain pills daily before he kicked the habit a few years ago. "It's part of the job," Levy says. "If you want to be a wrestler, you have to be a big guy, and you have to perform in pain. If you choose to do neither, pick another profession."

The costs are high. Wrestlers have death rates about seven times higher than the general U.S. population, says Keith Pinckard, a medical examiner in Dallas who has followed wrestling fatalities. They are 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than other Americans 25 to 44, he adds. And USA TODAY research shows that wrestlers are about 20 times more likely to die before 45 than are pro football players, another profession that's exceptionally hard on the body.

Some wrestlers bet among themselves on who will die next, says Mike Lano, a former wrestling manager and promoter.

Steroids-ingrained culture

Unlike amateur wrestling, which is a competitive sport in high school and college, pro wrestling combines sports, stunts and storytelling. The results are scripted.

Pro wrestling does not test for performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids. Nor are they banned by wrestling organizations as they are in pro football, basketball and baseball.

That is one reason, wrestlers and industry watchers say, that use of steroids and other drugs in pro wrestling has gone largely unchecked. It also has been ingrained in the culture for decades. Several of wrestling's biggest names, including Hulk Hogan and former Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, years ago acknowledged using bodybuilding drugs.

"There was a joke: If you did not test positive for steroids, you were fired," former wrestler and broadcaster Bruno Sammartino told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1991.

"That's a cop-out," says Vince McMahon, head of wrestling's biggest organization, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). "These guys took steroids because they wanted to.

"Because we are the most visible organization, we get the black eye," adds McMahon, noting that only two of the 65 deceased wrestlers died while working for his company. "It is alarming whenever young people pass away from these insidious causes, but you can't help someone if they don't want to help themselves."

Piper says he lived on a steady diet of muscle builders and painkillers for more than two decades.

The amateur boxer and wrestler left home in Canada at 13. A promoter noticed his "mean streak" and paid him $25 to fight the legendary Larry "The Axe" Hennig in Winnipeg. Piper made a lasting impression with his entrance: Clad in a kilt, he ambled to the ring as his bagpipe band played. Hennig pinned the 15-year-old in 10 seconds, the shortest of Piper's 7,000 matches, but Piper quickly was assigned to shows in Kansas City, Montreal and Texas.

Soon Piper had become one of the industry's best-known villains. By the mid-1980s, he was the foil to Hogan, the WWF's golden boy. Wrestling had become a pop-culture phenomenon. Both moonlighted as movie and TV stars, had their own action figures and hobnobbed with celebrities.

Even so, Piper never forgot what he heard as a penniless teenager. "A promoter said to me, 'If you die, kid, die in the ring. It's good for business.' "

A 'rock god' lifestyle

Despite, or because of, its testosterone-fueled danger, wrestling attracts mostly young men to a circuslike life built on outsized personalities, "ripped" bodies and death-defying stunts. Newcomers dive headfirst into the rough-and-tumble profession. Current and former wrestlers interviewed say they live on the edge and see few career options. Only a handful of stars have more than a high school education. During a typical 15-minute match, combatants exchange choreographed body slams and punches. Some leap from top ropes onto cement surfaces outside the ring.

In more physical "hard-core" matches, wrestlers are smashed through tables, whacked in the head with steel chairs and punctured with barbed wire and tacks. Those antics are not fake. "Wrestling is sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll because we have a rock god kind of thing going," Levy says.

Top performers make more than $1 million annually. Millions of youngsters pine to become the next Mick Foley. He parlayed death-defying stunts — he plunged more than 20 feet from steel cages and was frequently bloodied — into a multimillion-dollar wrestling career. He has since written books on wrestling that made the USA TODAY best-seller list.

But for every star, scores of others toil in obscurity at run-down gyms. "Strongman" Johnny Perry, 30, who died of cocaine intoxication in North Carolina in 2002, moonlighted as a repo man. Curtis Parker, 28, accidentally killed in practice in St. Louis in 2002, also worked at a Jack in the Box.

Some, like Hegstrand, fade from being headliners at sold-out football stadiums — as he was in the early and mid-1990s — to performing at high school gyms and armories. For nearly two decades, Hegstrand — a hulking figure with wrecking-ball biceps who died in October — freely admitted he indulged in hard living. Though he didn't specify what he took, he made it clear that pro wrestling was fraught with steroids, pain pills and recreational drugs. Then came the sobering news: Years of excess had created a tear in his heart.

"I'd put just about everything (drugs) in me that was humanly possible during my wrestling career," Hegstrand told wrestling radio talk-show host Lano in April 2003.

Hegstrand spent his last few years barnstorming in wrestler-turned-evangelist Ted DiBiase's "Heart of David Ministry" promotion. When he died, traces of marijuana were found in his body, according to his autopsy report.

Others, like Lozanski, wrestle despite serious injuries. More than 18 months after he took a nasty fall that damaged his lungs during a match, Lozanski traversed North America, wrestling for small promotions. He died unexpectedly in his sleep in December.

"That's the nature of the business," says Chris Lozanski, 31, Mike's brother and a former wrestler. "Mike felt he had to keep working. I left the business because I want to see my 11-month-old son grow up," he says.

Since he could walk, Lockwood wanted to be a wrestler. What the 5-foot-8 Lockwood lacked in height, he made up for in determination and tireless training, his mother, Barbara, says. "Everyone laughed when this kid said he would make it, but he did."

Lockwood won more than 20 titles in the WWE and a cult following from 1998 to 2003.

With fame came sacrifices. Lockwood was in constant pain and began using prescription painkillers 18 months ago. He also gained noticeable bulk and was irritable — two signs of steroid use. But when Barbara asked, her son denied using them.

Lockwood was released from his WWE contract after five years on July 1 because it did not have "further plans for his character," the WWE said in a statement.

He was about to move back to California, where he planned to reunite with his high school sweetheart and their 7-year-old daughter. He planned to perform in Japan and train young wrestlers. "He was on his way home, but he didn't make it," Barbara says. Lockwood died in November in Florida. He was 32. A medical examiner ruled it a suicide from an overdose of painkillers. But Barbara thinks it was an accident. "Mike had too much to live for," she says.

Wrestling on trial

When anabolic steroids were cast as a controlled substance in 1991, federal law made purchases and possession of them illegal except for medical purposes. Two grand jury investigations shortly thereafter resulted in admissions of steroid abuse by a handful of big wrestling names and the 1991 conviction of a urologist, George Zahorian of Harrisburg, Pa.

He was convicted of 12 counts of selling steroids and painkillers to a body builder and several WWF performers, including Piper (whose real name is Roderick Toombs) and Hogan (Terry Bollea).

"The doctor had shopping bags with our names on them that were filled with steroids and prescription drugs," Piper says.

Shortly thereafter McMahon was indicted. But he was acquitted of charges of conspiring to distribute steroids to wrestlers.

The probes led to stringent drug testing in the WWF, but only for a few years. A few stars were suspended for flunking tests. By late 1996 the program was scrapped because of the expense — and other wrestling organizations didn't test or were lax in enforcement, the WWF said at the time.

Jerry McDevitt, the outside legal counsel for McMahon's wrestling organization, contends testing "just doesn't work" because wrestlers can fake urine tests or use designer steroids that are undetectable. "Anybody who wants to beat it can beat it. The only ones who are caught are stupid," he says.

Last year, the WWE — the WWF changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment after a copyright dispute with the World Wildlife Fund in 2002 — let go star performer Jeff Hardy for refusing to undergo drug rehab treatment. Within weeks, several wrestling organizations lined up to hire him.

Major promoters say the industry has moved on from its "Wild, Wild West" days of the late 1980s.

Young wrestlers take better care of themselves. "The new guys play PlayStation in their hotel rooms," wrestler Sean Waltman, 31, says.

WWE, the largest wrestling organization in North America with 125 wrestlers, says it tests for recreational drugs if there is probable cause. If a wrestler refuses rehab, he is booted. It has cut weekly performances to three or four, down from about five in the mid-1990s. And it has improved training techniques to minimize injuries.

"Steroids and painkillers (aren't) a professional choice but a lifestyle," says WWE wrestler John Cena, 26, who at 6-1 and 240 pounds is the size he was when he played college football. "I've learned to play in pain. If it's a serious enough injury, I take time off."

McMahon says he requires only that his wrestlers are in shape, not that they're "the size of monsters," as many were in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. "We're not looking for bodybuilders," he says.

The No. 2 wrestling employer, NWA-TNA, is considering mandatory drug testing. In November it began offering medical coverage for injuries inside and outside the ring to its 35 contracted wrestlers — the first time a pro wrestling organization has done so. It is considering medical and dental coverage.

But such reforms help only those wrestling for the top two organizations, leaving hundreds of wrestlers largely working under the same conditions as years ago.

Not much has changed on the regulatory front, either. Attempts by wrestlers to unionize have flopped. They have no player associations, as do football, basketball and baseball players.

In most states, oversight of pro wrestling is left to local athletic commissions. They usually have lenient prematch requirements. In New York, for example, performers are subject to little more than a blood-pressure test.

"No one is standing up. Either they don't know what's going on or they're terrified of being blacklisted," says wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, echoing the sentiment of others.

For now the only one standing up seems to be Piper. He says he forfeited hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential earnings because his outspokenness about rampant steroid and drug use got him fired from the WWE in June.

The WWE denies Piper's allegations. It says the two were unable to negotiate a contract.

Piper doesn't allow any of his four children to watch wrestling — or harbor dreams of being a wrestler. He is sober, living on a 12 1/2-acre spread near Portland, Ore. He is hardly down on his luck. He's been in 26 movies, such as They Live, and TV's The Love Boat and The Mullets since 1978. He has agreed to appear in the movie Fish in a Barrel with Burt Reynolds.

Yet he clings to hopes of another big payday in wrestling. He suggests he and McMahon take their feud over Piper's dismissal to the airwaves.

"It would be great reality TV: two strong personalities going at it over a topical issue," he says, wistfully. "Maybe we could save lives in the process."